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After Ortega couple claims housing discrimination, realtor says cases of racism in housing industry still exist

Realtor Nathan Montgomery has been selling and showing homes for six years and says he's had some uncomfortable conversations with clients.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — House hunting can be stressful, even for the realtor working with those looking to land their dream home. 

"A lot of times there's subtle little comments and things that are made to us as realtors that we have to navigate through," said realtor Nathan Montgomery.

He is a licensed realtor in the state of Florida. He's been selling and showing homes for six years and says he's found himself in some uncomfortable conversations. 

"I had someone ask me what was the demographics of the community and specifically were there any Muslims that lived in the neighborhood? With federal fair housing laws, and our code of ethics as realtors, that's not something that we address or deal with," he explained.

He has even dropped clients after talking with them about buying or selling. One man was hesitant to sell to minorities.

One couple in Ortega said they noticed the appraisal for their home went up significantly after they removed all evidence of a Black family living in the home. The couple said their home was initially given a much lower appraisal compared to other homes in their neighborhood. 

“I saw the appraiser interacting with my husband [outside] and everything seemed normal," Abena Horton recalled. Then "he came inside to look at the rooms and whatnot, and his attitude, I feel, started to shift."

After removing family photos and images of prominent Black figures, Horton said the appraisal jumped up by 40 percent.

Montgomery just completed a certification in diversity training, calling it eye-opening.  

"When you read some of the case scenarios that have been brought with ethics violations or ethics complaints, that this stuff, unfortunately, does occur," Montgomery told First Coast News. 

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits the discrimination of the sale, rent and financing of housing based on gender, national origin, race and religion.

But, Montgomery says there are clients who are not shy in sharing their preferences about their next-door neighbors.

"One of the best pieces of advice that I ever got was to be the source to the source, but never the source.  So, if people have questions about crime or school ratings, to direct them to the places that have that," he said. 

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