The Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, the National Fair Housing Alliance and eight other fair housing organizations across the nation secured a settlement win against Redfin, a real estate broker based in Seattle.
The lawsuit was filed by the New York City-based law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel and Seattle-based firm MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in the federal district court in Seattle. The plaintiffs, including MMFHC, alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color, perpetuating racial segregation and contribute to the racial wealth gap.
The complaint also alleged that Redfin offered no service in non-white zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in white zip codes in metropolitan Milwaukee and other cities covered by the lawsuit, such as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas, Long Island, Louisville, Memphis, Newark and Philadelphia.
The parties agreed to a settlement that included Redfin paying $4 million, eliminating its national minimum home price policy and expanding real estate services for lower-priced homes in 10 metropolitan areas, including Milwaukee.
“We are glad that Redfin has agreed to change its policies in ways that will enable people of color to have equitable housing choices, as fair housing laws require,” William Tisdale, president and CEO of MMFHC, said in a statement. “Hopefully, more real estate companies will look critically at their own practices and ask themselves how they can be part of a solution, instead of using policies that reinforce the harm that illegal housing discrimination has created in our region.”
The settlement proceeds will be used to monitor Redfin’s compliance with the agreement, invest in programs that expand homeownership opportunities in metropolitan Milwaukee and other cities covered by the lawsuit and pay for litigation and investigation expenses.