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The illegal process of advising or directing clients to avoid or going to a specific geographical market on the basis of a neighborhood’s race, religion, or ethnicity.


Steering is the guidance of prospective buyers to stay away from certain areas or neighborhoods which is based on race, religion or national origin of either the buyer or citizens of a neighborhood/community. It is based on the idea that a realtor may believe a certain individual will be inharmonious with their potential neighbors or that a community will exude disapproval in regards to their new member or members, which is all constructed from a difference in race, religion or national origin.

The awareness of steering and its impact resulted in legislation actively prohibiting any act that perpetuated inequality in the housing market. Congress was eventually called on to find a solution, when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968 it also included the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act was created so that any racial or religious discrimination against potential home owners would be thwarted. Due to the complicated nature of figuring out which phrases or movements may be seen as violating the act, it is vital to understand that the real estate industry is based on information that covers a wide array of factors that are taken into account by prospective buyers. The difficult part enforcing this act is uncovering what specific factors are racially motivated. If any part of a contract or transaction revolves around race, it is seen as a violation.


If an act by a realtor is seen as discriminatory law enforcement is put in a place that forces them to make a decision on what type of action they are going to take. The Fair Housing Act holds three ways to enforce the act which are:

Administrative proceeding

Civil action

Action carried out by the United States Attorney General

In order for one of these actions to take place, the individual or individuals that were on the receiving end of steering must write a complaint that is created within one hundred and eighty days after the act of steering took place. The letter must be filed with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development which is also known as HUD. The secretary is then required to confront the alleged discriminator with a formal investigation into the matter that must take place within 30 days of

Why It’s Important

To properly provide every individual with a level and fair opportunity in the housing market, the eradication of racially prejudice acts is pivotal in meeting the standards of not only the Fair Housing Act but the Civil Rights Act as a whole. The courts must follow the procedures closely as the language and terms used could easily be overlooked in an industry that is built around terms and conditions. The individuals directly impacted by violations that are committed must be tended to in order to remedy any wrongdoing brought upon them by their race, creed, or religion.