Despite fair housing laws and greater industry sensitivity, the real estate business continues to be split into a "black market" and a "white market," preventing black real estate brokers and agents from getting a full share of the business, spokesman for the brokers maintains.
William R. Morris is executive director of the National Association of real estate Brokers, a 5,000-member, Washington-based group that is the largest minority trade association in the housing industry. Members of the orginization call themselves "realtists."
"Rcial feelings play a major role today in the selection of housing by whites and by blacks and that generally limits the market area of black brokers to areas here blacks are living," Morris said in a recent interview. "They do not have access to the total housing market in the metropolitan area as do their white counterparts.
"There is a dual housing market in this country the likes of which you do not have in any other from of American life."
Part of the problem, Morris said, is that business deals are often intermixed with social relationships.
"There are areas in commercial real estate, such as leasing and sales, that only a handful of blacks in this country ar involved in," he said. "This is where the major decisions are being made.
"We're not a part of the country club environment. It would be foolish for anyone to recognize that understandings and agreements and large scale deals are consumated in the offices of people. Its out that where they socialize and mingle."
Morris estimated that 90 percent of all housing and real estae activity is in the private sector without any federal subsidy or involvement. He said that by giving case-and-desit authority to the Justice Department and HUD that federal agencies could asure more fairness in the conventional market place.Such fairness, he noted, would make black brokers and agents more competitive and less reliant on federal programs.
"Our people have been so dependent on HUD-subsidized programs that whenever the politcal winds dictate cutting back subsidies our people are knocked out of business. Mary of them have not recovered yet from the 1973 moratorium imposed by President Nixon. And we find that the mood of the country and the mood of the Congres with this Proposition 13 fever is causing sharper cutbacks in housing subsidies than we had under the Nixon administration."
Morris said that les than 2 percent of all realty agents and brokers are black. His organization represents about a fourth of all black people in tindustry; about half of his membership also belongs to the National Association of Realtors, on organization with more than 700,000 agents and brokers. Nationally, the total number of licensees is estimated to range between 1.2 and 1.5 million.
Morris said the National Association of Realtors has "expressed great interest in having us merge into their organization as a subsidiary so there could be one single voice" in the industry.
"We have recognized that their doors are open to blacks and other minorities in the real estate business to afiliate," Morris added. "They have vastly more to offer in the way of assets, educational programs, and the indentification" of being part of a major group.
However, Morris said, his organization preferred to remain independent.