Once you make the decision to embark on the search for the perfect home, it’s easy to find an excess of data at your fingertips. Information about the features of each house and statistical data about schools and other demographics are readily available, but what about the non-physical aspects of the house or what the neighbors are like?
Trying to get your realtor's opinions about neighborhood characteristics are most likely topics the agent is legally prohibited from discussing. Specific details about a neighborhood or community can violate the Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1968 to eliminate housing discrimination.
The law protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status. Expressing opinions about a neighborhood can violate the law.
“As realtors , we want to provide and much information to you as we can,” Mike MacGuire, with The Platinum Group REALTORS® said. “That empowers our clients to make an informed, educated decision. These Rules prohibit us from stating opinions, not facts.”
Below are examples of topics your realtor should steer clear of:
Neighborhood Economic Status
This type of information might suggest the state of the neighborhood. The local economic development office can provide information about whether the neighborhood household income and property values neighborhood are stable or rising.
Local School System
Realtors can’t tell you which school system is considered “good” or maybe “not good.” They can profess test scores, awards and things like that, but it’s best for buyers to perform their own research.
“Realtors can provide ranking and statistics regarding schools and school districts,” MacGuire said, “ I can let buyers know districts that may have higher or lower demand, but we can’t tell you if we think it’s a good or bad school, or district.”
Sharing any information about religion could get a realtor in trouble.
Even though this information is public, the Fair Housing Act prohibits your realtor from talking about the crime rate. Crime statistics could be interpreted as references to race so most realtors will wisely choose to direct purchasers to reach their own conclusions.
“Again, as realtors we can’t tell clients what our perception of crime in certain areas is,” MacGuire said, “but I can find out which police department patrols the area and give you their number for you to call and ask them questions to help you make a decision.”
Fair housing violations are a big deal, so asking your realtor a question that could be misconstrued as illegal steering will most likely not get you anywhere. Most realtors can help you by suggesting websites, resources, and other means to help you make an educated choice about where to live.
“It’s not even entirely about Fair Housing,” MacGuire said. “Everyone is different and has different expectations. A realtor's job is to provide all the information you need to form your own opinions and make the best possible choices for your family.
Local experts in the Pikes Peak region, The Platinum Group REALTORS® have the latest tools and resources to help their clients discover the best home for their needs. With over 80 percent of their business coming from personal referrals, they don’t focus on more business, just better business. Guaranteeing platinum service and platinum results in every price range, in every neighborhood.