Redfin and realtor.com say they’re removing crime data from their home listings amid growing concern that the statistics could help to perpetuate racial inequity.
Redfin Chief Growth Officer Christian Taubman said in a blog post his company is taking a stand against crime data being included on real estate websites. He said it feels, after surveying users and evaluating that research, that the data does not provide accurate answers to questions regarding the safety of an area around a home. In addition, he said that given the long history of redlining and racist housing covenants in the U.S., there is a danger that such inaccurate statistics could reinforce racial bias.
Taubman explained that since most data on crime is culled from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, it mostly reflects reported crimes only. That means crime data on listings typically exclude unreported crime or those that are reported but go unsolved.
“The fact that most crimes are missing creates a real possibility that the crimes that do show up in the data set skew one way or another,” he explained. “And the fact that most reported crime goes unsolved means that some of the crimes being reported in fact may not be crimes.”
As for realtor.com, it said it was removing its crime map from search results in order to “level the playing field”. It said it is reassessing what safety means to buyers and renters and what information it should share about it on its listings, going forward.
Realtor.com Chief Executive David Doctorow said the company will work to “reimagine how we integrate safety data on realtor.com” and that its goal is to “ensure we are providing consumers with the most valuable, fair and accurate neighborhood data”, so they can make informed decisions on where to buy or rent a home.
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