Office Hours with Professor Bill is a multimedia learning experience covering fundamental real estate concepts.

In Episode 10, Professor Bill responds to questions about:

  • advertising guidelines.
Read the transcript of Episode 10

Student: How does the Federal Fair Housing Act affect advertising?

The printing or publishing of an advertisement for the sale or rental of residential property that indicates a wrongful discriminatory preference is a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act (FFHA), which we’ll call the FFHA.

The discriminatory preference rule applies to all brokers, developers and landlords in the business of selling or renting a dwelling.

Student: What entity issues guidelines for real estate advertising?

Real estate advertising guidelines are issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or HUD.

The guidelines are the criteria by which HUD determines whether a broker has practiced or will practice wrongful discriminatory preferences in their advertising and availability of real estate services.

The selective use of words, phrases, symbols, visual aids, and media in the advertising of real estate may indicate a wrongful discriminatory preference held by the advertiser.

When published, the preference can lead to a claim of discriminatory housing practices by a member of the protected class.

Words in a broker’s real estate advertisement that indicate a particular race, color, sex, or other protected classification are considered violations of the FFHA.

To best protect themselves, a broker refuses to use phrases indicating a wrongful preference, even if requested by a seller or landlord.

Let’s go over a brief example of prohibited words or phrases that indicate a preference. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but are some of the more common expressions you need to be sure to avoid:

  • “perfect for newlyweds”
  • “country club nearby”
  • “Christian community”
  • “ideal bachelor pad”
  • “walking distance from the synagogue”
  • “Hispanic neighborhood” or
  • “adult building.”

Preferences are often voiced in prejudicial colloquialisms and words such as:

  • restricted;
  • exclusive;
  • private;
  • integrated; or
  • membership approval.

HUD issues guidelines that require real estate brokers selling or renting single family residences to display a fair housing poster.

The fair housing poster is available at any HUD office and may also be printed online from HUD’s website.

A broker marketing a dwelling for sale or rent is to display the fair housing poster where they can be easily seen in two locations:

  • in the broker’s place of business; and
  • at any dwelling offered for sale, other than single family residences.

Student: Why are single-family residences an exception to this guideline?

A broker holding an open house at a SFR listed for resale is not required to display the fair housing poster.

However, if a dwelling is marketed as part of a residential development, the fair housing poster is to be displayed by the developer during construction of the development.

Later, the poster is to be displayed in the model dwellings whether or not the dwellings are sold through a broker.

The fair housing poster openly assures potential sellers/landlords and buyers/tenants the broker does not unlawfully discriminate in the services offered.