I just recently heard of this term from a realtor. It’s hard to imagine something like this (“blockbusting”) still happening in the 2000’s — but has anyone out there seen this?

Per Wikipedia:

Blockbusting is a practice used mostly by real estate agents and developers to encourage white property owners to sell by giving the impression that black people are moving in to the neighborhood.

First an agent or developer persuades white people to sell their houses at low prices by telling them that black people are moving into their neighborhood, exploiting their racism and fear of lowered property values. Then, the real-estate agent raises the price of the house and sells it to a black person.

The term may have originated in Chicago, where, in order to accelerate the out-migration of economically successful residents to better neighborhoods outside ghettos, people were hired to create a visual presence in the restricted neighborhoods, encouraging residents to sell their properties and move to still more restrictive suburbs. For example, black women were paid/encouraged to push baby carriages in exclusive white neighborhoods to encourage white residents to sell their properties, on the premise that property values would decline with an increase in the visible social differences that characterized neighboring ghettos.

In a variation, a real-estate agent would refer African-American families interested in buying a home to a particular neighborhood that, while mostly white, was less expensive than other neighborhoods. Even prosperous black families were steered to the targeted neighborhood. When a black family bought a house, the broker would then place business cards in the mailboxes of neighboring houses. A developer may also buy properties in a neighborhood and leave them empty, to give the neighborhood an empty feeling to encourage holdouts to sell to him.

Courts have ruled that towns cannot prohibit the placing of outdoor “for sale” signs by homeowners to reduce the effect of blockbusting. Linmark v. Willingboro, 431 US 85 (1977)], because doing so would infringe upon freedom of expression.

I have NEVER seen it.

I can’t even imagine a realtor, or a especially a developer ($$$$) that would even CONSIDER exposing themselves to the virtual UNLIMITED LIABILITY this tactic would present them with.

Just think about the BEAUTIFUL opportunity this practice would present for a local TV news station!!! I can just see the hidden camera and mic recording a realtor or developer telling a scared family that they better get out of dodge because a new “neighbor” is moving in.

I think the guy you heard this from must be wearing a pointed hat at local cross burnings when he’s not attending realtor training classes.

Just to give you something to compare this too…We have a local HVAC supplier in Providence who simply asked a Spanish speaking customer if he could see his proof of citizenship. THAT DID IT!!!
ACLU, Local Latino Politicians, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, picket lines (for both sides of the issue) and on, and on, and on… I can’t even IMAGINE the uproar a “Blockbusting” story would create.

Oh…and in case anyone was wondering were I stand on the HVAC supplier story…

They don’t call them ILLEGAL ALIENS because the term sounds good. THESE PEOPLE ARE BREAKING THE LAW and SUCKING THIS COUNTRY DRY. Nice piece last week on ABC about Pregnant Mexican woman swimming the Rio grande to give birth FOR FREE in American Hospitals. The hospital in the story LOST $200 MILLION last YEAR because they are REQUIRED BY LAW to provide FREE MEDICAL CARE TO ANYONE!!! Guess who eventually pays for THAT loss???

And WE ALLOW IT to continue, so who do you blame???

Definition of blockbusting from the NC textbook on agent licensing:

Blockbusting (also referred to as panic peddling) is the act of encouraging the sale or renting of property by claiming that the entry of a protected class of people into the neighborhood will negatively affect property values. A key element of blockbusting is the profit motive.

Also, blockbusting was common practice primarily in the 1950s and 1960s.

I believe that it would be rare today to see an out-and-out blockbusting type scam going on today. More common would be an agent “suggesting” to a seller that property values may decline since certain classes of people are moving in, so they had better list with them TODAY!

Another term that probably happens more so in today’s market is steering. Steering refers to when you, as an agent/seller, push (or steer) buyers to a particular neighborhood, or away from a particular neighborhood based on their race, religion, national origin or some other form of consideration.


What if the agent posed as an advocate for the “undesirables”? They could encourage them to “infiltrate” these areas. Then just sit back and see what happens. In my experience, racism is still around. It’s just not in the open like it used to be. I’ve seen white people speak ethnic slurs and then go silent when minorities are around. There’s unspoken racism out there. That being said, I don’t think it be as effective today. Especially since there’s more tolerance for minorities and consequences for discrimination. I believe there are more legal, ethical and effective tactics to do business.

I haven’t heard of anyone block busting since the 50’s.

The way it was done was to buy one house and move a black family in. Then to buy up the rest of the neighborhood at panic sale prices.

At that point, the black family was moved back out and the houses were re-sold at full value as a whites only neighborhood.

On this day and age, it’s hard for me to imagine an entire neighborhood selling in panic because they had a new minority neighbor. I hope we’ve all come beyond that point.

However, I gotta tell you, there’s nothing like a meth house with a couple of pitbulls to drive decent folks out of a neighborhood.

I lived in one neigborhood where 5 people sold and moved because a new neighbor put in a dirt bike track for their very obnoxious kids. Not only that, but it took forever to sell the houses because no new person wanted to live by a dirt bike track.

So if you want to do it, there are still ways.

I can’t imagine a builder ever buying a block of properties, sit on them while making payments, to deteriorate the neighborhood and buy properties for cheap there.

This is so expensive to do it’s rediculous any serious builder would ever dream of doing it.

Imagine how long he’d have to make payments on empty houses…

I think this is more myth than anything.

Yeah, I could never imagine this happening in this day & age either. Racism has pretty much disappeared in the major urban areas anyway (like here in Dallas). However this brings up another subject - there is something similar going on right now. Historically african americans lived in primarily the southern half of Dallas, while the whites lived in the northern half. As suburbs developed over the last ~50 years, many of the african-americans have moved south into the cities such as Duncanville, Desoto, Lancaster, Cedar Hill and the like. While many of the whites have moved north to Frisco, Plano, Carrolton and the like. And in the meantime, especially in the last 20 years, a giant hispanic community now occupies the areas that were formally primarily african american (Oak Cliff, Pleasant Grove, etc) - aka regions within the city of Dallas on the south side. Anyway — what is fascinating to me, is that even though all the before mentioned suburbs are NICE areas, the property values in the southern suburbs are a fraction of the northern suburbs. Just compare Plano properties to Desoto properties on and see for yourself.

Interesting, eh? I wonder what is causing this?

Note: I am not a racist in any way - my best friend is an african american man. Localized geodemography is a VERY interesting subject to me - and it should be to anyone who is in business and/or in real estate. E.G. If you are a real estate broker in a primarily hispanic area, it’d be smart to speak spanish and/or hire spanish speaking staff. In my case my company does business in ALL of these suburbs around Dallas, and many more, therefore I get to see and know alot of these folks. Anyway - this little phenomenon is one of those fascinating things I (and many other people; it’s well known here) have observed.

Not so expensive in the 40’s when a nice little house cost $10-11K and the mortgage was $12 a month. There wouldn’t be much holding time. Move in 2-3 black families and you’d own every thing on the block in under a year.

Blacks couldn’t get good paying jobs (or any jobs), so housing in black neighborhoods was extremely cheap. Get 20 houses worth $10,000 for $5k each and pay at the most $144 mortgage payments per house for the entire year. Make $5 k per house. 5K was a heck of a lot of money in the 40s when a worker would be making under $100 per month. Women, if they could even get a job, were lucky to make $25 a month.

It was shameful. About all you can say about the “good old days” was that there were a few things that weren’t good ar all, and no matter how you feel about political correctness, some of that shit had to be stopped.

Last time I heard term “blockbuster” was during an episode of All in the Family. Hard to believe it’s still bantered in real estate circles.