Top Three Takeaways from the 2023 360° Summit: Leading with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

On Thursday, June 22, we got together for the 360° Summit: Leading with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The 360° Summit was named because forward-thinking DEI requires a 360-degree view of where we’ve come from, where we are and where we’re going.

We discussed how to recharge, empower and champion diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our industry. Here are three important takeaways.

#1: It’s Not You, It’s Your Implicit Bias

During the session, The Past, Present & Future of Race and Homeownership, Matt Difanis, RE/MAX Realty Associates, addressed the racial wealth gap in Chicago and potential solutions to make an impact for the better.

One of the biggest problems for REALTORS®, he said, is implicit bias. According to the National Institute of Health, “Implicit bias is a form of bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions and behaviors.” Implicit bias is something that is within us all that can play a role during the real estate transaction, and we must acknowledge it and address it.

Difanis suggested that all REALTORS® should take the National Association of REALTORS® Bias Override training, an online workshop to help members avoid implicit bias in their daily business interactions. This training explains how our brains’ automatic, instant association of stereotypes with particular groups can cause us to treat those who are different from us unfairly, despite our best intentions and often without our conscious awareness. These concepts are then applied to the everyday work of REALTORS®, and the training offers strategies to override bias to convey respect, ensure fairness and improve business relationships.

#2: Don’t Be Afraid to Speak to Appraisers

The panel, Unfair Housing Values: What Are the Solutions to Creating Equality in Equity, looked at discrimination and bias in appraisals and its impact on homeownership rates and wealth-building opportunities.

While Scott Rueter, Freddie Mac, shared that Freddie Mac has an ongoing commitment to research in appraisals, REALTORS® are welcome to help appraisers during the transaction. Alexia Smokler, National Association of REALTORS®, agreed with this, adding that REALTORS® are more than welcome to speak and work with an appraiser during the transaction. Feel free to do your research, and email or bring a packet with details on the home, including upgrades, and accurate comps.

Also, remember that if an appraisal comes back low, there are actions you can take. You can request a Reconsideration of Value, which is a request to the appraiser to reconsider the analysis of their appraisal based on information not presented on the appraisal report, or a complaint can be filed through HUD.

#3: There’s A Difference Between Being Included & Being Welcome

Jamie Zapata, Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS®, shared her experience as the first out and proud transgender REALTOR® in San Antonio, Texas. During her vulnerable discussion, she described a conversation with a boss, where Zapata thanked her boss for always making her feel included, something she felt was missing throughout her life. Her boss then replied that she was more than included, she was welcome. While being included is important, the act of being welcomed, or fully embraced by your peers, is incredibly impactful for those who may have felt unwelcome for most of their lives, and you never know the difference that can make for those around you.

On the topic of being fully embraced by those around you, T. Dallas Smith, founder and CEO of the commercial firm T. Dallas Smith and Company, shared his trials and tribulations when it came to finding his place as a Black commercial REALTOR®. To find out more about his story, check out his book In the Black: Changing the Dominant Narrative in the Commercial Real Estate Industry.