Home Buying in East Meadow>Question Details

Becky, Home Buyer in Hicksville, NY

I keep seeing that realtors aren't allowed to answer questions about how good a neighborhood or school

Asked by Becky, Hicksville, NY Sun Aug 17, 2008

district is.

What's the deal with that? Why would people who are experts in these areas, not be allowed to provide that information?

Help the community by answering this question:


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.

2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ

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.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Aug 19, 2008

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.
Web Reference: http://www.tommcgiveron.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008
Because, like you -- we have our own personal opinions (based on our own personal values, lifestyles, upbringing, preferences, etc.) on what is a good or a bad neighborhood. Our opinions may NOT reflect yours. And being human, we don't always say what we mean to say so our answer could be construed in the wrong way. Furthermore, our answers could sway people towards or away from a neighborhood. It is our responsibility as Realtors not to discrimate in any way. We must not treat one class of individuals differently than another class of individuals because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status and disability. For these reasons, we are not allowed to answer questions about schools or neighborhoods. We can, however, suggest websites you can go to to investigate those things on your own.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 17, 2008
Because everyone has different needs and different preferences. I love my neighborhood...I think this is the best neighborhood ever, yet I have shown homes and this area and my customers say they would never live here.

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.
Web Reference: http://GailGladstone.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 17, 2008
Real estate agent must be neutral in their dealing with the public.
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.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 5, 2010
Can someone post the exact language, a cut and paste, from the Fair Housing Act hat prohibits discussion of schools?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
You know, sometimes we wish we could. But we have to go by what the Fair Housing Act allows us to do. We can give you the source of where to find the information, but that's all we are allowed to do. We have been to homes that we absolutely hate, yet the buyers love...and we have shown some homes that we think are great, and the buyer walks out of...go figure!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008
To Debbie,
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.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 18, 2008

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.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 17, 2008
Gene is right. It is what it is - Fair Housing Act. Thanks for clarifying with such precision Gene.
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 17, 2008
Hi Becky, in fact agents do need to be cautious in commenting directly on the quality of schools and demographics because it crosses a line that agents are not to cross. In fact, it is a matter of law.

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....

Jeannie Feenick
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 17, 2008
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