We sent the following letter written by CEO Glenn Kelman to Redfin’s customers.
Dear Redfin Customers,
Almost a year ago, we sent a message about our commitment to serve customers of every race. We stood with Black Americans against violence then; we’re taking the same stand now with Asians and Pacific Islanders. We’re proud that many of our customers and colleagues are Asian. Your fight is our fight. The people of our company love you and support you.
Discrimination Against Asians Has Been Common in Real Estate
Anti-Asian violence may seem unrelated to real estate but real estate is exactly where xenophobia starts and maybe how it ends. Asians will always seem foreign to people who grow up in mostly segregated communities. One reason most major cities have a Chinatown or an “international district” is because the surrounding neighborhoods had covenants preventing home sales to Asians. A K-town or Japantown isn’t just a fun place to grab a bite; it’s a relic of racism.
Bias Is Still an Issue Today
Even today, Asian homebuyers have to worry that their offers will be viewed as a foreign investment regardless of their birth country or citizenship. Any effort to negotiate the price of the home or the commission paid to an agent can be dismissed with a stereotype. Language and cultural barriers can make Asian immigrants wonder if their own agent is really on their side; other Asians who grew up speaking English can sometimes be presumed not to understand the homebuying customs of a country that’s their only home. And of course, Asian immigrants working at nail salons, as janitors, at restaurants and as landscapers still struggle to afford housing.
What Redfin Is Doing
At Redfin, we’re working to promote more Asian employees to leadership positions, and to recruit more Asian agents and lenders who speak the languages of our customers. Our executives’ bonuses depend in part on the success of these diversity initiatives. Compared to the populations of America and Canada, Asians are underrepresented in lending and real estate, but well represented at Redfin. We’ve committed more than a million dollars to Redfin Rise, which supports equal access to housing for low-income communities and people of color. There’s still much more that we can and will do.
Our Goal: To Give You Access to the Most Exclusive Neighborhoods
But as we said last year to our Black customers, our first obligation is to fight for you the Asian homebuyer—and also the veteran homebuyer, the Latinx homebuyer, the gay homebuyer, every homebuyer—using all our capabilities as top-producing local agents and lenders, and all of our technology to give you an advantage when buying a home, especially in neighborhoods where you’re still wrongly seen as an outsider.
If We’ve Treated Anyone Unfairly, We Want to Know About It
Just providing our service to people of all races may seem like the least we can do, but it’s what’s most important, and we don’t take it for granted. If we ever fail to treat you fairly, I want to know about it. You can contact me directly, and we’ll make it right. We believe that everyone in America and Canada belongs wherever you want to be.
Glenn (at) redfin (dot) com