Coldwell Banker to pay $30K to settle housing discrimination claims

The brokerage is accused of discriminating against Black, Hispanic, and other homebuyers of color on Long Island

Real estate brokerage Coldwell Banker Realty has agreed to pay a $30,000 settlement related to allegations of discrimination by the brokerage against Black, Hispanic, and other homebuyers of color on Long Island, according to an announcement issued on Wednesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Coldwell Banker will pay $20,000 in penalties and $10,000 to Suffolk County, which will go toward promoting the enforcement of and compliance with fair housing laws. The brokerage also agreed to provide fair housing training to its agents and will include a discrimination complaint form on its website as part of the settlement.

“There is zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind in New York state,” James said in a statement. “My office’s investigation into Coldwell Banker uncovered a persistent pattern of prospective homebuyers receiving different treatment because of their race.”

The New York Attorney General’s office began investigating the company’s practices following a 2019 Newsday investigation into allegations of housing discrimination by Coldwell Banker.

The investigation by the AG’s office probed into the practices by five New York-based Coldwell Banker agents who allegedly engaged in misconduct, which included “warning” white potential homebuyers about the racial demographics of certain neighborhoods, but did not do the same for Black or Hispanic homebuyers.

The agents “may have subjected prospective homebuyers of color to different requirements than white homebuyers, directed homebuyers of color to homes in neighborhoods where residents predominantly belonged to communities of color and otherwise engaged in biased behavior,” James’ office said in the announcement.

One incident highlighted by the New York AG’s office included two homebuyers — one white and one Black — who asked an agent to show them homes near Garden City. According to the AG’s office, the agent showed listings to the white homebuyer in neighborhoods that were 83% white. Conversely, the agent showed the Black homebuyer properties in Freeport, a neighborhood that is more racially diverse.

Another documented incident included an agent telling a white potential homebuyer that “you don’t really know in certain areas what you’re going to get next door” when speaking about a more diverse neighborhood, according to the AG’s office. However, the agent did not convey the same criticism with a Black potential homebuyer.

This is not the first New York-based brokerage to come under fire with the AG’s office recently. Late last year, Attorney General James and Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Keller Williams Greater Nassau, Keller Williams Realty Elite and Laffey Real Estate agreed to pay settlements related to allegations of discriminatory practices in violation of state and federal fair housing laws.