Crime & Safety in Surprise>Question Details

Sally, Home Buyer in Avondale, AZ

There seem to be a lot of sex offenders in the surprise area? Is it a good city to live in with small children?

Asked by Sally, Avondale, AZ Wed Sep 16, 2009

Sex Offenders

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The comments here cause me to offer something from my experience buying and selling eight times in 15 moves in and out of four states. The most professional and helpful to me real estate agents, both when I was the seller and when I was the buyer, were those who learned enough about us and the homes we had lived in to be able to show us homes that fit our lives and family. They did not take us to homes or neighborhoods that did not fit. As a result they did not have to offer opinions. however, they were able to tell us where we could get more information.

Note this all happened before the fair housing act existed. It was just plain common sense and it was what a professional salesperson does when selling any product or service.

I taught this to sales people in teams I led and have been teaching it to people in sales for thirty years.

The fair housing act was an effort to make non-professionals sensitive to the fact that we are all selling to people, humans with feelings and needs, just like us. My Dad was a professional salesperson of the highest level. His oft repeated saying to me when I was a teen was,

"When you are selling anything do not think about your wallet. Always think about what is best for the other man and do not give him anything less. Then your wallet will always be full." William G. Zimmerman.

Those days there were no women in business, period. Since then I have altered that wording to fit our modern culture so it reads.

"In Selling, Business and Life, always think about what is best for the other person and do not give them anything less, then your life - and your wallet will be full."

This has been the guiding principle in our lives. It is the guiding principle in our consulting, coaching, teaching and workshops. It works in real estate too, try it, you'll like it!

Nuff Said !!!

Wesley (Wes) Zimmerman
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
I am a licensed Fair Housing Instructor and it is not appropriate for REALTORS or lenders to discuss "good" or "bad" neighborhoods. Those are subjective terms. What is good for me may not be good for you. REALTORS can also not talk about school rankings. School rankings were addressed in the HUD lawsuit against a large Chicago brokerage. The agents were steering clients to schools based on their race. So now it is off limits. Sex offenders are not protected in most states. However, be very careful as an agent or a lender handing out information about sex offenders. You should be the source of the source; never the source. The point of a REALTOR is not to guide you to the best neighborhoods, but to help consumers sell their properties at the highest amount with the least contingencies and/ or to help a consumer make a sound investment in property that best fits their needs and abilities. If you are interjecting your personal opinion of homes and neighborhoods, you better start preparing for a lawsuit.
-Sarah Stelmok
Fair Housing Instructor/ REALTOR - Virginia
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
Kyle -

We're not taking it too far at all, actually. We can discuss objective things such as what businesses are in an area. We can discuss the rating a school received from the Arizona Department of Education. But we can't discuss subjective items such as good, bad, and "cleanliness," whatever that means.

"Good" and "bad" are subjective terms which easily could be code for other things, such as the racial makeup of an area. That is why we as real estate professionals can't discuss areas in those terms. This is discussed in depth in the licensing and continuing education classes on Fair Housing that we take - it sounds as you're unfamiliar with this because you're not licensed.

We can't discuss areas as good for families. We can't even describe a given property as being within "walking" distance of something as that can be construed as discriminatory against someone with a disability - that one came directly from a continuing education scenario.

By law, an agent is required to disclose known material facts about a property with only a handful of exemptions - the presence of sex offenders is one such exemption. ARS 32-2156, if you want to look it up.

I don't presume to tell you how to handle the mortgage business since I've not been trained in that area. Before telling me how Fair Housing applies to my job, consider that I may have received just a little more education in that area than you.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
Hello Sally,

I understand your concern, but as agents we are prohibited from giving opinions/advice on good or bad cities/neighborhoods. It sounds like you have checked the sex offender website, which is a great resource, but please keep in mind that Surprise is a fairly large city. Since this is a concern of yours, and a valid one, I would suggest that you wait until you find some homes that you are interested in and then check the crime statistics and sex offender website for those neighborhoods. It is generally not a good idea to judge an entire city based on one criterion. Think about has an extremely diverse population and is a huge city, it has some of the most expensive homes and some of the least expensive. You could find a neighborhood to fit every persons desires.

Good luck!

Susan Ellis
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
Kyle - I have no idea where you're reading a bio that says I'm 60 and have only been in real estate for a year. I'm not hard to find, at all, on the internet if you're really that interested in my credentials.

Sorry you took my comment for a "swipe" at you. You are a mortgage guy. I never questioned your ability to do that job. You on the other hand, strongly implied that licensed AGENTS weren't aware of Fair Housing laws -- as they apply to AGENTS. If challenging that stance is a "swipe", then so be it.

You said, "Susan, I have never heard that it was against Realtor "code" to comment on good/bad neighborhoods, cities? I thought that was the whole point of a Realtor..."

And the point was made (quite clearly) that we CAN'T comment on good/bad neighborhoods.

You then said we were "hilarious" and taking Fair Housing "way too far".

I'd respectfully suggest that if you don't want people "swiping" at you, don't swipe first.

I never once questioned your ability or qualifications as a lender, so please don't question mine as a real estate broker.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
I am done with this argument, but his "bio" doesn't state any prior RE work history, thats why I said what I did. He went immature on me and took it personal, so did I. Lets all grow up here and move on.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
Kyle ... Jay has had his own brokerage for one year; he's been in the business far longer than that and longer than you. The ADRE resets the clock when you switch from an agent's license to a broker's license. As a point of information, you can't be a broker unless you've been licensed for at least three years. Another area where it helps to know the rules as they apply to real estate licensing.

We absolutely can do what you suggest in your last paragraph ... but that's not what you had said earlier. You said we ought to tell people what are "good" and "bad" areas, and that's in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
Jay, interesting words from a 60 year old who has only been in this business for 1 year! I am 28 and been doing this 6 times longer than you maybe chill out.

I don't appreciate your swipe at me Jay - We are one of the top mortgage companies in all of Arizona, I am not some fly by night operation. In fact, fell free to swing by my office and we can chat sometime.

As you obviously don't know, individual loan officers in AZ work under a LICENSED BROKER/BANK and are not individually of yet, we will need to be licensed as individuals starting 2010 however which is a move I am highly in favor of for obvious reasons.

In any event, I think we agree, all I was saying is that the area of "sex offenders" doesn't apply to fair housing. Talking about "good or bad" is obviously subjective and I wouldn't expect a Realtor to flat out tell a client "this area is good"

But I would expect them to be able to match the clients needs/wants to a specific area and tell them, "this meets your needs that you expressed to me, do you like this area, is it good for you?"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
You have to love this. A mortgage broker or lender who, according to the Arizona Dept of Real Estate, does not have a real estate license is telling real estate licensee's about the Fair Housing Act.

I'm curious Kyle, how many Continuing Education hours on Fair Housing -- as it applies to holding and maintaining a real estate license -- have you taken?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 18, 2009
You guys are hilarious!

Jonathan, believe me I am familiar with the fair housing laws. Its for 7 protected classes - race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin.

Its not saying you cannot talk about crime or sex offenders in an area....or cleanliness, school rankings, businesses in the area, guys are sadly taking this way too far.

The point is not to DISCRIMINATE against those 7 areas of protected classes, nothing more, nothing less. Talking about areas of town in terms of desirability other than those protected issues, is perfectly fine. Sex offenders is not a "protected class"

Maybe you should read up Jonathan
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
Kyle - real estate professionals can't discuss "good" or "bad" neighborhoods because of the Fair Housing Act, the same statute that prohibits a mortgage officer from participating in practices such as redlining. If you're not familiar with the Fair Housing Act, it might make for interesting reading sometime.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
Unfortunately everywhere you go this is a problem, it is always best to keep your guard up with children whether at the mall or playing in front of your house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
Susan, I have never heard that it was against Realtor "code" to comment on good/bad neighborhoods, cities? I thought that was the whole point of a Realtor...

That would be like me saying I cannot comment on interest rates being good or bad or mortgages good or bad for the client.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 17, 2009
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