An Education on Blockbusting

Last night, I watched a movie called An Education. There was a scene which featured one of the main characters engaging in the practice of blockbusting. According to the Wikipedia entry, blockbusting “was a business practice of U.S. real estate agents and building developers meant to encourage white property owners to sell their houses at a loss, by fraudulently implying that racial, ethnic, or religious minorities — Blacks, Hispanics, Jews et al. — were moving into their previously racially segregated neighborhood, thus depressing real estate property values.”

In the scene from An Education, David assists a black family’s move into a neighborhood predominantly occupied by lonely, older white women, or as he and his business partner called them, stats. During the move-in, a white woman looks suspiciously out her window. Later, David explains to Jenny, his love interest, that he helped the family move in in order to scare the women so that they would sell him their homes quickly at a price below market value. Then he would sell the home to a buyer at a higher price.

In Kansas City, before blockbusting was outlawed, some real-estate agents were known to go door-to-door in predominantly white neighborhoods and falsely tell the residents that their neighbors down the street just sold their home to an African American family. This tactic would artificially decrease the property’s value. After buying the house, the broker would typically sell it to an African family at a higher price. In addition to make hefty profits for real-estate agents and their brokers, blockbusting served as a weapon to segregate neighborhoods, too.

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