I will come back and post a more detailed answer...but this has more to do with perception than exact language. If a member of the public believes they were discriminated against and files a complaint, it becomes a time consuming and potentially expensive process for the Realtor to defend themselves. Therefore, most agents have been taught to error on the side of caution.
Answers to these types of "subjective" questions are quite often based on an individuals personal experiences or information they have heard from others.
The best course of action is to allow people to do the research themselves focusing on their individual interests. NYS has posted a comprehensive account of student test results and school rankings. With this level of information available to the public there is no reason to base such an important decision on misinformation.
Okay - so we're having a conversation - (this goes out to Gene).
Buyer says, "How's Brand X High School"...
And I say, "Oh it's terrible school district. Lots of violence, poor grades. Not good."
On the surface, this seems okay - however...
But as a Realtor, with a license to protect, this can be seen as me providing my own bias toward any number of races, religions, etc. If ONE Asian goes there or ONE African-American or ONE Jew or One Muslim - even though I did not mention any thing having to do with Race, Ethnicity or Religion - the mere fact that I rendered an opinion (in this crazy world we live in) - may and very well could be seen as discriminatory.
As far as offering information, as a buyers agent about halfway houses, sexual predators and the like - that is perfectly within my fiduciary responsibilities. I am simply stating a FACT that there is a halfway house located at X street or - if I mention to them to check the website that offers information on sexual predators locations - that is public information.
Telling someone that a school district or neighborhood is "no good" - even if it's based on some factual evidence, such as poor grades - while that may be a fact, given information on a website that features school grading info - I might be able to say, "check the grades or the school scoring to get an idea about how Brand X school rates." - but answering whether a school district is "good" or "bad" is a BIG NO NO. You would be SHOCKED at some of the cases out there. While the law is pretty good - how it's enforced and how certain real estate brokers and agents are in trouble over what they say is ridiculous - SOOOO - we just avoid the whole scenario. And again - it's NOT my job to tell someone if something's bad or good based on what I think - I'm not buying the house.
And again - common sense. Seriously.
I love my school district. Ask anyone, anywhere, and they will say their district is the absolute best.
Your needs and your preferences are strictly yours and cannot be represented by anyone else.
And so now you know why we are not allowed to comment or recommend...we can direct you to official sources that present facts; we can show you homes in various neighborhoods for you to tell us whether you wish to see more homes there or not.
I hope this answers your question.
We are not allowed to do many things by law.
Our job is to create a marriage between the buyer and the seller.
Our duties are to be fair and honest in the way we deal with a client or a customer.
The Fair Housing Act is Federal statute that all Licensed Realtors need to be aware of. The beauty of this web-site is that you get the off-the -cuff opinions of many professionals and how they read the question. The Realtor breaks it down to so a lay person can understand it. Both points of view are valid, it is against the law to comment, and my opinion is not necessarily your opinion. Is chocolatate cake good?- it depends if you are a kid or a heart doctor.
As Becky mentioned, she has asked the question numerous times and cannot understand the rationale behind not getting the Realtors opinion. All the Realtors she has asked have followed the law.
What information would you have an agent provide? Let's put aside the Fair Housing Act and laws and regulations and just use good old common sense (what the Fair Housing Act is anyway but I'm going to remove the legal mumbo jumbo).
How "good" an area is or a school IS totally subjective - meaning, I can't speak for ANYONE and what they like or dislike. Period. Whether it's a particular house, street, neighborhood, school district, etc...
Our profession is solely for the benefit of our clients and customers, representing THEIR real estate interests...not our own.
It's the job of the consumer, in this case a buyer such as yourself - to determine (through your own research) what you want in a home, town, school district.
Realtors, including myself, can provide you with the tools to make these determinations. I can provide you with accurate information on PRICES. I can also provide you with websites that can help you. I can also help you with tips on on to go about acquiring the information that is important TO YOU.
From their - you make your own judgements.
It's just good old common sense.
Fair Housing laws may seem politically correct or somewhat silly, but they're not - they're cut and dry and they make good common sense.
HOWEVER, agents can direct you to information so that you can make your own informed decisions - there are school reports, and neighborhood reports etc that can provide the kind of detailed comparative information you are seeking.
The knowlege of a local agent is critical to success - knowledge of inventory, knowledge of pricing. An agent should be able to explain this if they seem vague when you ask questions. We can get into the nitty gritty when it comes to discussing properties, but we have to be very careful when it comes to people.
Hope that clarifies things a bit. Good luck and....
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