At least two home buying sites have eschewed including crime maps for neighborhoods on their websites over concerns that the crime data available is biased against minorities.
Realtor.com and Redfin both announced on the same day in December that they will no longer provide crime data for neighborhoods on their websites over racial bias concerns.
On December 13, Realtor.com’s CEO David Doctorow wrote in a blog post that the company has been working to “break down those hurdles” relating to discrimination in home ownership.
“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,” Doctorow wrote.
Doctorow added that Realtor.com will now “reimagine” how to provide safety data for buyers.
“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,” the Realtor.com CEO added.
The company does not have anything further to share at this point beyond the initial blog post announcing the crime map would be removed, Stephanie Singer, Realtor.com’s senior director of corporate communications, told The Daily Wire.
Redfin said the company recently decided not to add crime data to its real estate buying website because doing so could reinforce racial bias.
Christian Taubman, Redfin’s chief growth officer, wrote in a December 13 blog post that Redfin is aware 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 wrote.
Taubman said Redfin considered using data from both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, but both of those data sources had 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,” Taubman explained.
Redfin will continue to add more data to its site, 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,” Taubman wrote.
Both Realtor.com and Redfin rank in the five most trafficked real estate websites in the U.S. as of October.