You may have noticed the real estate sign in front of 379 South Main Street, Sharon as you drove along Route 27 this summer. It was a sign that proclaimed “WICKED MAN CAVE” and “TOTALLY UPDATED” on its riders. How could you have missed it? You may be even able to hear a person from 1986 proclaiming that something was “totally wicked”, right?
I’m not writing in an effort to embarrass the former listing agent of 379 South Main Street. I’ve known the listing agent for many years through business. The listing agent was able to help the seller of South Main Street sell the property for $425,000 on September 7th and it sounds like it was a fair deal for both the buyer and the seller.
I had the nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right with the sign. It finally occurred to me, after driving by it a few times, that the sign may have violated the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is a federal act intended to protect buyers or renters of dwellings from seller or landlord discrimination. That seems fair, right?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states on its “Fair Housing – It’s Your Right” page that it’s illegal to:
Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
That clarification by HUD makes even more sense.
I got angry when I realized the real estate sign may have violated the Fair Housing Act.
I got angry that the real estate agent couldn’t lawfully advertise a term because it’s considered to be a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which was first enacted in 1968. We’re in a post Fair Housing Act society. Society is more aware that every person should be treated equally and fairly and society is more likely to police itself with the prevalence of cameras and the advent of social media. Maybe I’m too optimistic?
Agents should be able to legally advertise when any particular property in Sharon may be located close to: the First Baptist Church, which is located at 2 South Main Street; the Islamic Center of New England which is located at 74 Chase Drive; or Temple Israel which is located at 125 Pond Street. I don’t find it discriminatory to write, for instance, that “this property is located on the same street as the Islamic Center of New England“. That’s a fact.
What’s even more complicating and strange is that this individual blog post may be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Here are some terms that may violate the Fair Housing Act:
- active community
- desirable neighborhood
- family room
- handyman special
- located in the Cottage Street Elementary School district
- perfect for students
- Section 8 accepted
Getting back to the “man cave”… How am I going to know if a property has a “man cave” if a real estate agent isn’t legally able to advertise that feature of a property? A “man cave” is a very appealing feature to me. I’m a man.
Below is the map of condominiums and single family properties located close to 379 South Main Street, Sharon that are listed for sale through the MLS. Like one? Let’s talk…