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Beat Fair Housing Fatigue With These 5 Coaching Questions

Lee Davenport, Ph.D Fair Housing Leave a Comment

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Lee Davenport, Ph.D

By: Dr. Lee Davenport, Ph.D

Fair Housing month is over, but that doesn’t mean our efforts should stop. You might find that you and your team are a little fatigued on the constant work that is fair housing, though. Steven Tyler’s siren squeal to Dream On is my favorite way to start a talk on fair housing fatigue and help audiences renew their hope. Perhaps, my talking points as shared below, can help you and your team if fatigue is on the rise.

How’s everybody doing? That’s a question I ask during trainings but it’s also a quesion beloved Sesame Street character, Elmo, recently asked on X, formerly known as Twitter, and I feel like the reaction sets the right tone for this piece.

A picture of Elmo's post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that states, "Checking in! How's everybody doing?"

The post, which garnered over 20,000 responses, went viral and the responses were overwhelmingly that of palpable fatigue. It seems that as a collective, fatigue is a common thread right now, and that can apply to advocating for fair housing as well. 

As I check in with audiences as we advocate for fair housing, I have noticed the common question from real estate pros (real estate sales, mortgage professionals, appraisers, and others in the housing sphere) is often similar to what we hear on long road trips: “Are we there yet?!”

That question is exactly why I love to invoke Aerosmith’s iconic mantra to Dream On. There are two realities of the real estate industry that are vital to how we approach our careers:

  1. There is never a dull day in real estate (which anyone in this business for at least two years likely realizes)
  2. Advocacy work is a journey, and fair housing is important advocacy work

“Progress is a process,” says author Valorie Burton. 

“Forward is a pace,” is the often repeated catchphrase during the Peloton classes I take.

Likewise, progress is a journey, not a destination. 

Thus, the Socratic coaching question that I want to challenge us (myself included) with when we face fatigue is to flip“Are we there yet?!” to  “What’s next?” and “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”

In other words, the way I coach teams to dismantle fair housing fatigue is to dream – Aerosmith’s siren has been spot-on for 51 years… “Don’t stop believin’!” One of the easiest ways to come to terms with the journey is to take a look at the past.

Interestingly, federal fair housing became law finally after years of delay on the heels of a famous dream:

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Lest we forget, the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act of April 1968 was predicated on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s cataclysmic assassination just days before its enactment. Within hours of Dr. King’s horrific assassination, President Lyndon Johnson and Civil Rights leaders agreed to refocus efforts on the highly contentious Civil Rights bill that included more comprehensive federal fair housing protections to grant basic access and opportunity to anyone, no matter one’s race, color, religion, and national origin. “President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man’s life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta“.

In short, those leaders dreamed of what was next. And, so it was. That was 1968. Initially, there were only four protected classes—color, religion, race and national origin—at the federal level at that time, and still much opposition at local levels.

What if the dream of fair housing for all stopped in 1968?

Thankfully, we will never know! In the 56 years since, those who have continuously asked, “What’s next?” have helped fair housing laws evolve to now include almost two dozen different protected classes at the federal and local levels. Examples include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex 
  • Familial status 
  • National origin 
  • Disability (this has evolved to “a person that uses an assistive device”)
  • Religion 
  • Age 
  • Ancestry 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Gender identity 
  • Marital status 
  • Military status 
  • Domestic violence victims 
  • Source of income 
  • Genetic information 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Criminal record history

Your Turn

Dreaming is what many of us do at the start of a year in the form of goal setting and vision boarding.  Some even go the extra mile of setting goals on a quarterly or even weekly cadence. Why? Because dreaming – imagining what’s next – is the antidote to being stuck or disheartened.

Typically, during conferences, I ask audiences to form breakout groups to brainstorm these dreams. I encourage you to gather your team for accountability and to imagine:

  • If you could change anything about the home buying process (from sales to lending to appraisals, etc.) to encourage more fairness, what would you change?
  • If you could change anything about the home selling process (from sales to lending to appraisals, etc.) to encourage more fairness, what would you change?
  • If you could change anything about the home leasing process (from credit reporting to the application process, etc.) to encourage more fairness, what would you change?
  • What else? How would you finish this sentence in regards to fair housing: “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”
  • What would the world look like if we accomplished all of our current dreams in the arena of fair housing and lending?

Include any needed/ideal resources in your responses to accomplish your dreams to keep fair housing top of mind. Then post it, making it visible next to your other goals. 

Afterward, check in with your team from time to time (as often as you check sales goals) on ways to manifest those dreams. 

Dream on, real estate friends!

Dr. Lee Davenport is an Atlanta-based real estate coach who trains agents, teams, brokerages, and other business organizations on how to use today’s technology to work smarter. Join Lee’s free RE Tech Insider’s Club by visiting LearnWithLee.REALTOR

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