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Why Saying "Fisherman's Retreat" Could Land Realtors in Trouble

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Today's New York Times lays out a list of words real estate brokers are cautioned never to use.

Christine Haughney writes:

It shouldn’t take a lawyer to know that it is illegal to use phrases like “no Chicanos,” “no blacks” or “not for handicapped” in a real estate listing.

But at some real estate firms, brokers are also forewarned not to include in listings, or even mention in conversation, phrases that even the most prejudiced New York landlords would be hard pressed to think up, like “no Appalachians” or “no Hungarians.” They also are cautioned to never, under any circumstances, call a home a “fisherman’s retreat.”

Haughney points out that there is no centralized, official list. However, "most brokerages and newspapers, including The New York Times, keep some kind of list, often a version that has been distributed for more than 15 years by the Oregon Newspaper Association."

Here are a few other forbidden terms:

  • Healthy only
  • Sophisticated
  • Family (Some brokers call it the “F word,” said Barbara Fox of Fox Residential Group)
  • Executive building
  • AIDS, no
  • Newlyweds
  • English only
  • Retarded, no

As for the restriction on referring to a listing as a "fisherman's retreat," attorney Neil Garfinkel says, “If a fisherman’s retreat is a way of describing ‘men’s only,’ ” it could be read that “you’re expressing a preference for men versus women.”

(For the rest of the Times' list of words off-limits to real estate brokers, click HERE...)
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