5 Tips For Using More Inclusive Language This Pride Month And Beyond
Pride Month is in full swing, and it’s important for agents to not only think about how they can celebrate this vibrant community but welcome them as clients. A 2021 survey from the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance reported that “10.6 percent of survey respondents said they experienced discrimination from a real estate professional during the renting or buying process.” While the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination over sexual orientation and gender identity, these instances unfortunately still occur and slip through the cracks.
To help make your business and the real estate industry more inclusive to all people, take a look at these five steps below.
1. Don’t Assume, Ask
The biggest piece of advice to keep in mind when you’re trying to be as welcoming as possible is to avoid making assumptions about your clients. You won’t come off as rude if you inquire about how they identify or want to be referred to—they will see you as caring about communicating in a way that centers their needs.
2. Communicate Client Preferences With The Team
In a real estate transaction, there can be up to a dozen or more cooks in the kitchen. To ensure that your client is comfortable and treated with consistent respect, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Once a client has communicated a preference to you, make sure that all members of your team understand and use that information. As with any business standard, communicate your expectations with your colleagues ahead of time. The same is true for any of your finance partners—in my own experience as a queer homebuyer, it was a letdown on my otherwise-joyous closing day to have to explain that my fiancée wasn’t the “he” the lender kept referring to.
3. Consider Your Paperwork
Everything in your business should be a reflection of the relationship and trust you want to establish with your clients. This includes the way that you communicate with them on paper and in DocuSign too. According to the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance survey, “13.8 percent of surveyed Alliance members have had to sign a real estate form or document that didn’t ‘adequately represent their life experience.’” Commitment to inclusion in these areas won’t go unnoticed!
4. Look At Your Real Estate Language
As a property professional, you know the ins and outs of architectural language. You can tell a turret from a tower, a duplex from a detached space, and your ability for description allows you to accurately represent a house without relying on language that while well-intentioned can be exclusionary. As an agent, you know that getting your clients to picture themselves living in a space is key to unlocking an offer. Avoiding gendered language and top-grading helps invite more people to think of themselves as welcome in the property you’re representing.
5. Let The 'Love Letter' Go
There are a million stories out there about how “love letters” from buyers to sellers have sealed the deal. Love letters, or offer letters, have been used throughout the years as a means of appealing to the seller in a competitive market. However, while many people still try to use these letters to give their offer an edge, they can (intentionally or otherwise) lead to discriminatory housing practices.
The FHA, established by the US Government in 1934, prohibits housing and housing-related discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. While having a client write a letter to someone they want to buy a home from, or reading letters from prospective buyers for your listing, may seem harmless; the reality is it violates this law. By disclosing details like family status, or any other personal details—these letters could be unintentionally appealing to any bias a seller has.
Housing and generational wealth are rights that everyone should have equal access to. So, no matter how well-intentioned you may be, we encourage you to not send offer letters in an effort to create a happier, more equitable world for everyone.