Real Estate Websites Drop Crime Data Maps Claiming ‘Racial Bias’

A few home buying websites have forgone the inclusion of crime maps for the neighborhoods on their websites by stating their concern that the issued crime data that is available is severly biased against minorities.

Redfin, along with Realtor.com, both put forth announcements on the same day back in December that their sites will no longer display or gather any crime data for the neighborhoods covered within them due to racial bias concerns.

Back on the 13th of December, David Doctorow, the CEO of Realtor.com, stated in a blog post that the company was working to “break down those hurdles” relating to discrimination in homeownership.

“For example, earlier this month, we removed the crime map layer from all search results on Realtor.com to rethink the safety information we share on Realtor.com and how we can best integrate it as part of a consumer’s home search experience,” stated Doctorow.

Doctorow went on to add that Realtor.com will now “reimagine” how to give safety data to their clients.

“In the weeks and months ahead, we plan to examine closely what neighborhood safety means for buyers and renters who use our site so we can reimagine how we integrate safety data on Realtor.com. Our goal is to ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data so they can make informed decisions about where they want to rent or purchase their next home,” concluded the Realtor.com CEO.

As of writing, the company does not have anything else to share past the initial blog post stated that the crime maps would be taken down, stated the senior director of corporate communications, Stephanie Singer.

Redfin stated that the company recently made the decision to forgo the use of crime data on its real estate buying website by stating that the use of it could reinforce racial bias.

The chief growth officer for Redfin, Christian Taubman, wrote in a blog post, dated for the 13th of December, that Redfin was entirely aware that people want to know “whether they’ll feel safe in a given home or neighborhood,” but “the data available don’t allow us to speak accurately to that question, and given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there’s too great a risk of this inaccuracy reinforcing racial bias.”

“We believe that Redfin–and all real estate sites–should not show neighborhood crime data,” Taubman stated.

Taubman went on to state that Redfin considered using data released from both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics but instead decided that both of those sources had severe issues such as missing, unreported crimes.

“In the 2019 survey, people reporting crimes were more likely to describe their offender as young, male, and Black than would be expected given the representation of those groups in the population,” explained the executive for Redfin.

Redfin stated it plans to continue to add more data for its users, but “in this case we’re confident that the crime data that are available today ought not to be on Redfin or any other real estate site,” concluded Taubman.

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