Realtor.com has removed crime data from its website, and Redfin has decided not to publish such data over concerns that it may drive racial inequity.
Christian Taubman, Redfin's chief growth officer, said that the company decided not to add crime data to its platform. Taubman added that the company had debated whether it should include crime data in searches ''because one of the metrics that consumers consider when looking for a home to purchase is how safe the area around that home is,'' the Washington Examiner reported.
''Given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the United States there's too great a risk of'' the data being inaccurate while ''reinforcing racial bias,'' Taubman wrote.
Taubman cited that an inaccuracy of data — say, from the Uniform Crime Report provided by the FBI — indicates that a large majority of crimes either go unsolved or unreported.
''The fact that most crimes are missing,'' Taubman continued, ''creates a real possibility that the crimes that show up in the data set skew one way or another. And the fact that most reported crimes go unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported in fact may not be crimes. If you're extracting data at the neighborhood level, the risk of these gaps leading to inaccuracy becomes high.''
Taubman is concerned that reporters of crimes may have a racial bias that would leach into the data.
''And there are troubling signs of this: 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,'' he added.
On the same day that Redfin published a statement on its search policy on crime data, Realtor.com did as well.
David Doctorow, CEO of Realtor.com, said in a blog post that the crime data in searches had been removed from the website ''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.''
Doctorow cites the company's reasoning to remove the data was to''level the playing field'' and ''reimagine how we integrate safety data.''
''At this time of complexity in real estate,'' Doctorow wrote, ''our team has been energized by our purpose to simplify real estate choices, especially for first-time homebuyers. Yet we keep bumping up against one very old and persistent problem: the ability to afford and own a home can be unjustly limited by one's race, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics.''
''As a relative newcomer to the real estate industry, I've been struck by how entrenched this problem is. Stories abound about Black, Hispanic and Asian homebuyers receiving unequal treatment, starting with their ability to see whatever homes they like, and continuing through to the appraisal and mortgage processes.''
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