DENVER — Kentwood Real Estate cut ties with Team Denver Homes, the company’s self-proclaimed #1 selling unit, after the real estate agents made a hip-hop video criticized as tone-deaf in a city struggling with gentrifying and a housing crisis.
The video featured real estate agents dancing and rapping to a spoof of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme where they bragged about selling luxury homes in “Den-vair’s” hot housing market.
“We have a 38-year record of being an inclusive, equitable, professional, and empathetic culture,” said Kentwood CEO Gretchen Rosenberg, in a statement to 9NEWS.
“I remain steadfast in my commitment to maintain that culture on behalf of our Broker Associates, clients and community,” Rosenberg said.
Kentwood did not say whether the decision to terminate the relationship was due to the video itself or Team Denver Homes’ handling of criticism from the community.
The video prominently features Little Man Ice Cream. The popular ice cream shop said Thursday that Team Denver Homes filmed inside their shop without permission after falsely claiming they had pre-approval.
Partner Mor Zucker initially defended the video Wednesday, saying that she didn’t know why anyone would find it problematic.
“What’s it that’s causing people so much anger?” Zucker said. “We didn’t make fun of any minority.”
Online commenters noted that the team appeared to be all-white.
Zucker acknowledged that Team Denver Homes didn’t have any people of color on its staff but she noted that she has friends who are.
“Basically, I’m a minority,” Zucker told 9NEWS. “I’m a Jewish person.”
The video was removed from YouTube and the team’s website Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, Team Denver Homes posted an apology on its Facebook page but proceeded to spar in the comments with community members who challenged the team’s lack of diversity.
“We never had anyone apply,” Team Denver Homes posted in reply.
Kentwood cut ties with Team Denver Homes Thursday evening, shortly after Little Man Ice Cream released a public statement saying its employees had been tricked into allowing the video shoot.
“We never gave permission for the filming,” said Director of Operations Loren Martinez.
Martinez said the video crew falsely claimed they had clearance to be allowed inside the ice cream shop.
“We agree that this video demonstrates lack of awareness and an important understanding of our community and find it distasteful that we were used in this way,” Martinez said.
Zucker did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Little Man’s claims and Kentwood’s decision to drop the team from its roster.
Bree Davies, whose podcast Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? discusses issues including gentrification, was among the first to bring the video to public attention on social media.
“The Kentwood realtors didn’t do anything we haven’t been seeing in Denver for years now,” Davies said Thursday night. “Real estate agents co-opting the communities they are displacing is part and parcel for many in the industry.”
“This video hit a nerve with many of us who have cared deeply about Denver for a long time,” Davies said. “I don’t think it’s outrage as much as exhaustion.”
“There’s a reason the people in that video maybe didn’t see a problem with it,” Davies said. “Everyone in their bubble looks like them.”
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