By Geeta Rajpal
Approximately 10 days ago, we sent a message to our client community about the importance of educating ourselves on how to better take a stand against racism of any kind.
While my husband Rajiv and I have many conversations on issues of inclusion, race and diversity with our 12-year-old son at home along with our two adult daughters, I was thinking about how we can make an impact when it comes to the business we are in. The housing market impacts every single person in the city. Everyone needs a roof over their heads.
Having a racially diverse team does not automatically absolve us from calling out acts of a racist nature.
In real estate, one area that has seen implied and sometimes even express racism is leasing. As a leading Re/Max real estate team in the GTA, we have the ability to offer leasing services to both landlords and tenants. While not common, and not any of our own clients, we hear stories of landlords weeding out applications based on names and ethnicity.
While we understand that people gravitate towards familiarity, it can no longer be a reason or basis to disqualify other equally qualified candidates. This seems to ring true for job hiring as well but being qualified to speak as a Realtor, I will limit my comments to real estate.
A step in the right direction for the team, the industry and our city is to ensure that we call out any client that voices hesitation to work with any tenant based on race alone with no regard to the merit of the application.
I will go a step further to say that Team Rajpal would not work with anyone who deems it okay to share their “preferences” with the team, but not before having an open conversation to hopefully change the inbuilt prejudice that many times people don’t realize exists.
This is not to create divisiveness. On the contrary, starting conversations is a great step forward in peeling away layers of inbuilt biases against or for certain races.
It’s not perfect. And it’s just one aspect of the business. But it’s a start and we will continue to look for opportunities within the industry to collaborate and partner with other Realtors and the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board to encourage change at this level of real estate activity.
Renting a property is the first experience in real estate a potential future buyer will have. The players may be different when leasing, buying or selling but the playing field is still real estate.
I would invite fellow Realtors to have an open discussion around this conversation. We can all learn from each other. Because I am certainly no expert and am looking for ways to improve as a mentor to our team, an example for new Realtors and a spokesperson for clients.