Licensed Minnesota real estate agents train to reduce racial inequities in homebuying

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced on Tuesday that nearly 28,000 real estate agents and brokers licensed in Minnesota have completed training to help eliminate racial inequities in homebuying under a two-year program.

Beginning in 2021, The Minnesota Department of Commerce required brokers and agents to complete a class called “The History of Diversity in Homeownership” to renew their license. The curriculum explored how individual bias may interfere with fair practices and spotlighted organizations that work to eliminate racism in real estate.

Commerce staff will promote these efforts to reduce inequities in homebuying at the Twin Cities Diversity Homeownership Fair on May 20 in Brooklyn Center.

All brokers and agents licensed in Minnesota must also complete a follow-up training before July 1 called “Practical Application to Inclusive Representation.” Attendees will learn the importance of promoting equitable homeownership and avoiding discrimination in submitting or receiving sales offers.

“Commerce and the real estate industry are both aware that the history of real estate in Minnesota contains many examples of redlining and other unjust practices,” Commissioner Grace Arnold said. “We know that some past government practices had the effect of institutionalizing racism in real estate. Commerce is committed to reducing economic barriers and racial disparities for all Minnesotans when they are trying to buy or sell a home.”

Research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 2022 found that prospective homebuyers in the Twin Cities who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) are denied mortgages at higher rates than white applicants even after accounting for credit scores and income.

Another 2,000 property appraisers who work in Minnesota have been trained to recognize and eliminate valuation bias in real estate transactions. Valuation bias includes the practice of undervaluing homes in neighborhoods with more BIPOC families, which widens the generational wealth gap between those families and white families.

The anti-bias training, required under legislation passed in 2021 and overseen by Commerce, must be completed by August for most licensed appraisers in Minnesota.

“Commerce requires continuing education for many of the businesses we regulate to ensure continuous improvement that benefits Minnesotans,” Arnold said. “Training thousands of professionals on diversity, equity and inclusion is a lever that helps us dismantle discriminatory systems.”

The Minnesota Department of Commerce licensing unit administers an application and renewal program for more than 275,000 licensees working in real estate, insurance, financial institutions, and other businesses.