MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- "Keep it white." That's the message Sarasota realtor Kay Winefordner received from a woman identifying herself as a homeowner in Bayshore Gardens in Manatee County.
Winefordner has seen racism before in real estate but she says never like this. “I’ve never personally experienced something so blatantly in real estate. I practically fell out of my chair.”
The female caller’s message:
“I’m a homeowner in Bayshore Gardens. Um, The rental that you have on Dartmouth Drive, we’ve been having a lot of problems with people letting, um… groups of, large groups of Hispanics and… blacks move in. So could you please keep, you know they want to keep Bayshore original and respect the homeowners because we’re really tired of the overflow rentals. And try to keep it white. I hate to say it but just please keep the rental on **** Dartmouth, I believe you have something for rent. But just keep it white, please respect us.”
“Wow! ... That's evil!” say Lisa LaDuke, a Bayshore Gardens resident.
“Wow. I was blown away. Keep it white -- if that isn’t racial I don’t know what is,” adds Alana Bartruff, who lives in Bayshore Gardens.
Bartruff, a renter in Bayshore Gardens for 14 years, says, “Our neighbors are black these are Spanish we have no problem get along fine.”
LaDuke has been renting for 3 years. She says, “As long as you are a decent person I don’t care if you are purple with pink polka dots.”
Bartruff says, “To me, this racial stuff is based off of fear.”
Bartruff takes the woman’s comments personally, she says her granddaughter Julianna is biracial. She says, “Teaching my granddaughter to grow up not like this lady who left that comment.”
That comment was left for Winefordner, who has a talk show on WSRQ called “Real Estate: Unplugged” that airs from 2 p.m. to 3 pm. on Saturdays. WSRQ is a 10News WTSP partner.
“I take great offense to it,” says Winefordner.
The real estate agent with 20 years experience says what the caller is asking her to do is illegal. “It’s a federal matter. It's against fair housing. I could lose my license possible get fined me in the state of Florida and ethically it’s horrible thing to do.”
Winefordner says she can’t reveal a tenant's ethnicity or age. She says, “As a real estate agent I have to look at the qualifications their background checks, whether they can pay and maintain the home proper manner.”
LaDuke says, “You gotta judge people by the content of their character not the color of their skin.”
10News spoke with more than a dozen homeowners and renters and they say race isn’t the issue. Most say it’s property owners who don’t invest in their homes and renters who don’t maintain it.
Some Bayshore Gardens homeowners and renters complained about crime in the neighborhood. We checked, and the Manatee County Sheriff's office says crime is trending down -- a 15% drop between 2015 and 2016 and the trend is continuing this year.