As Pride Month celebrations take place (virtually) across the country, CREA is proud to announce a new partnership with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance to raise awareness of the challenges facing LGBTQ+* home buyers and sellers.
CREA’s new partnership with The Alliance aligns with the our commitment to fostering a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist environment for employees, volunteers and members. The collaboration will allow the partners to raise awareness of the challenges LGBTQ+ home buyers face in their homeownership journey and promote an understanding of the cultural nuances involved in working with the diverse LGBTQ+ community.
“We here at CREA are pleased to kick off Pride Month by announcing our partnership with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance,” said Cliff Stevenson, Chair of CREA. “We are excited to come together as champions of LGBTQ+ homeownership and provide learning, networking, and referral opportunities to our REALTOR® members across Canada.”
The Alliance advocates on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community on a variety of home-related topics. A U.S.-based non-profit, it also provides its membership with a variety of learning and business opportunities. It began accepting members in October 2020 and has more than 50 chapters across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Their mission includes celebrating diversity and inclusion in members and allied partners while advocating for fair housing for all.
“There are a number of specific housing issues that are faced by the LGBTQ+ community that need more time and attention from our industry and from governments. The LGBTQ+ Alliance provides a forum where these issues can be discussed, and solutions identified. These issues include eliminating discrimination against members of the LGBTQ2+ community to homeownership, renting, and obtaining mortgages,” said John King, an Ottawa broker, REALTOR® and Alliance member. “The rate of homeownership for members of the LGBTQ+ community is also below that of the general population; so, we need to understand the reasons for this anomaly and take corrective action. Members of the LGBTQ+ community deserve the same access to housing as other members of society.”
Why is an Alliance like this so important for the real estate industry?
King noted Canadians are protected against discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, meanwhile there are at least 27 states in the U.S. where discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is still legal. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ+ community has disproportionately faced homelessness in Canada.
CREA recently published a white paper featuring research which shows how homeownership contributes both financial and non-financial benefits to homeowners and the broader society.
“We are pleased to partner with CREA and expand our reach in Canada,” said John Thorpe, President of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. “We look forward to collaborating with CREA and their members, raising awareness of LGBTQ+ housing issues and fighting to eliminate discrimination as a barrier to homeownership across North America.”
CREA’s REALTOR® Code states a REALTOR® won’t deny professional services or be party to any plan to “discriminate against any person for reasons of race, national or ethnic origin, religion, colour, sex, family status, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, marital status or disability.” But being inclusive is just a routine part of business for many real estate professionals.
“I have always tried to make my clients feel comfortable, heard, and understood. That goes for all my clients no matter their background, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation,” says King.
There may be some issues that can be sensitive for LGBTQ+ members to discuss, such as whether a local neighbourhood is diverse and welcoming to members of their community, and what services may be available nearby.
“Making your clients feel comfortable asking their questions is a challenge for all REALTORS®, but you just have to listen and be sensitive to their needs and understand what is really important to them,” says King.
For REALTOR® and Alliance member Steven Lubiarz, it’s about building a safe community.
“This Alliance promotes a safe space for consumers and industry members to connect without judgement. As an openly gay REALTOR® myself, having such an Alliance allows me and my fellow industry members to continue building a strong, healthy and vibrant LGBTQ+ community,” he says. “The Alliance allows consumers the opportunity to search for industry members in their geographic community that they can work with when buying or selling a home without prejudice or judgement.”
How can REALTORS® be better allies?
The partnership with the Alliance will open more doors to learning opportunities for REALTORS® to better understand the clients they serve. Learning about barriers they may face or concerns you may have to address will help you provide more inclusive services.
“Remember to challenge your practice by continued discussion, conversation, and education. Not only when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but for all walks of life. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved and accepted and of course, to find a place to call home,” says Lubiarz.
King notes being an ally is simple.
“In general, I think the REALTORS® in my city of Ottawa do a fantastic job of serving the LGBTQ+ community, but we can always do better. Just be a good listener and be sensitive to the needs of your clients.”
CREA is committed to fostering a diverse, equitable, inclusive and anti-racist environment for all our employees, volunteers and members. Learn more about our DEIA commitments.
*CREA uses the acronym LGBTQ2+ to recognize the two-spirit (or two-spirited) community.