What is Steering in Real Estate? Why is it Illegal And How To Avoid It

Steering is a form of housing discrimination that violates the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

It occurs when real estate agents, brokers, or landlords influence the housing choices of prospective buyers or renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.

Steering can limit the opportunities and choices of people who belong to protected classes and perpetuate segregation.

How Does Steering Happen?

Steering can happen in different ways, depending on the intention and method of the person who is steering.

Some common examples of steering are:

  1. Showing homes only in certain neighborhoods or areas that match or differ from the buyer’s or renter’s demographic characteristics.
  2. Providing false or misleading information about the availability, price, or condition of homes.
  3. Making comments or suggestions about the quality, safety, or suitability of certain neighborhoods .
  4. Refusing to work with or provide services to buyers or renters who express interest in certain neighborhood.

Example of steering

An example of steering in real estate is when a real estate agent shows or avoids showing certain properties or neighborhoods to a potential buyer based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics.

For instance, if an agent only shows homes in predominantly white neighborhoods to white buyers, or discourages Black buyers from buying in certain areas, they are engaging in steering.

Steering is a form of housing discrimination that violates the Fair Housing Act and harms individuals and communities.

How to Identify and Avoid Steering?

Steering can be hard to detect, especially for first-time homebuyers who may not be familiar with the housing market or their rights.

What are the Impacts and Consequences of Steering?

Steering is not only illegal, but also harmful to individuals and society. Steering can have negative impacts and consequences, such as:

  • Reducing the housing options and choices of buyers or renters who belong to protected classes.
  • Increasing the housing costs and prices of buyers or renters who belong to protected classes.
  • Creating and maintaining segregated and unequal neighborhoods.
  • Violating the civil rights and dignity of buyers or renters who belong to protected classes.

How to Avoid steering?

To avoid steering, you should follow these tips:

1.Do your own research on the neighborhoods or areas that you are interested in, using reliable sources such as the [U.S. Census Bureau], the [National Association of Realtors], or the [Department of Housing and Urban Development].
2.Ask your agent, broker, or landlord to show you a variety of homes in different neighborhoods or areas that meet your criteria and budget, regardless of their demographic composition.
3.Be aware of your rights under the Fair Housing Act and report any suspected violations to the [HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity] or the [U.S. Department of Justice].
4.Seek legal advice or assistance from a fair housing organization or an attorney if you believe that you have been a victim of steering or any other form of housing discrimination.


Steering is a serious and illegal form of housing discrimination that affects the housing choices and outcomes of buyers or renters. or national origin.

Steering can be prevented and challenged by being informed, vigilant, and proactive about your housing rights and options.

If you encounter or experience steering, you should report it and seek help from the appropriate authorities or organizations.

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