What Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Tell You

What Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Tell You

You could ask your real estate agent, “Is this a good neighborhood?” But don’t expect a straight answer.

Your agent isn’t purposely giving you the run-around. Certain details about a neighborhood or community can violate the Fair Housing Act, which was enacted in 1968 to eliminate housing discrimination. The law protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status. In particular, it prohibits any real estate professional from steering prospective homebuyers toward or away from a community based on any of the classes under federal protection.

Voicing an opinion about a neighborhood can violate the law. For example, an agent might say, “This neighborhood is great for young families.” The comment implies the neighborhood demographic consists of parents and kids.  The agent would be violating fair housing laws.

Crime statistics and details about schools can be interpreted as references to race – also a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The law also applies to selling a home. For instance, a real estate agent cannot cater to homebuyers of a certain race, religion or family status, even if the seller requests it. If the agent does, with or without the instruction of the seller, both parties are liable for fair housing violations, potential legal penalties, damages compensation, and attorney fees.

Finding information about a neighborhood is easier than in the past because the Internet offers resources homebuyers couldn’t previously access. Do a little research on your own, then tell your agent areas you may want to live.

A few old-fashioned visits to the neighborhood at different times of the day can help you know if it’s right for you, especially if you stop to chat with the residents in the area.

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