My husband and I purchased a house in a beach community in San Diego in 2014. The house next door to ours is a short-term rental, and when I was standing in the street getting the house inspected, a renter came out to me and said, “Are you buying this house?” When I answered that we were in the process, he said, “How does someone like you afford something like this?” I was silent, and my realtor hustled me away from him, seeing her 3 percent sales commission disappear before her eyes. Had the older-appearing, white male chair of my department been standing on the sidewalk, such a question would not have been asked.

It’s been five years since that happened, and it turns out that those people are repeat renters. They are next door several weeks at a time, every year. The man’s wife brings their granddaughter over to...

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