Today I was doing a Google search to see if any of my listings would pop up. While I was doing this, an ad from a local competitor came up. I know him a little and he seems like a good and honest person. However, at the top and at the bottom of his ad was a verse from the Bible from which the Golden Rule originated. Certainly a nice thought and great words to live by.
In our local real estate magazine there is a company that has picked for its company name what most people would identify as a prominent book of the Bible and has a cross displayed at the top of the page. Again, these people are very nice and I have always enjoyed working with them.
Anything wrong here? Well, if HUD received a complaint about it, there might be. If you check with HUD you will see that we cannot "make, print, publish, or cause to be made, printed or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or any intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination". Section 804 of the Federal Fair Housing Law
Now, I am sure my colleagues I mentioned do not know about these rules. But, if at some point they are accused of discriminating based on their customers' religion, I would think that these symbols and words in their ads might be used against them. I remember that a while ago we received a flyer, perhaps from one of the associations about this very topic.
I know that no one here would ever discriminate against a customer. Nor would the two people I mentioned above. But perhaps in our eagerness to create a special identity for ourselves in our ads, we may be offending a person or group, and end up unintentionally breaking the law.
So it may pay to take a look at your ads to see if they comply. I have never had a problem with HUD, but from what I have heard, when they find that someone has violated fair housing laws, they do not slap you on the wrist. I have read and been told that they take violations very seriously and their fines can be horrendous.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida