Foreclosure in 85044>Question Details

Debbie Nieman, Real Estate Pro in Phoenix, AZ

I am a Real Estate Professional in the Phoenix market and just got a call from an investor that wants to purchase a property in Phoenix between

Asked by Debbie Nieman, Phoenix, AZ Sat Jan 5, 2013

$ 100-150k and wants me to "steer" him to good areas. How do you handle this? My response was that I can not steer you but give you information and educate for you to make those determinations yourself.

Help the community by answering this question:


Annette Lawrence’s answer
An investor can be provided with everything they REALLY need to know with a few clicks of the keyboard and calculation of the community trend lines. Low cap and down arrow should provide volumes of instructions. Speak only if you must.

If the investor is unable to discern the data, you, the real estate professional should interpret this to be a predictable shipwreck taking on passengers.

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
Anita, I beg to differ with you.

It's not a shame, and I don't consider Fair Housing laws to be dealing iwth "trivial matters",and........... I don't think your (or my) opinion of an area should factor into a buyer's decision.

There are a lot of neighborhoods, say in NYC, that currently are very trendy and expensive.....but years ago were seen as "scary" neighborhoods......some buyers made some very good investments by buying in "those" (transitional) neighborhoods before they became trendy.

Point is...............we sell houses........we supply knowledge (hopefully)......facts.....and information..... and can guide people to find the information and stats they want and need..............

We don't....... and shouldn't............. pass value judgements on where someone should or shouldn't buy.
Remember, someone IS buying a house on "that" street or in "that" neighborhood - those neighborhoods you might not care for.

So, imo, it's a good thing we have those Fair Housing laws, because we can't always count on people to do the right thing on their own.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Anita - and your point is?

also..... unfortunately, not "all" business people are guided by ethics and law....many are guided by greed and self interests.

so...they should do away with Fair Housing laws, since they are no longer "necessary"?

2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
Anita, that's just silly. We are not a "free society;" as John Adams put it - a nation of laws, not men. Or women - who, without government regulation, would be secretaries in real estate offices instead of owners and brokers.

It would be worth your while to do a little research into the history of "blockbusting."
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
- It's a shame that government regulations intrude so deeply into our free enterprise system

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, Anita. Those who forget the lessons of their ethics classes are doomed to repeat those, too.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
When I asked the question I did not know we would get so much response.

To respond to a few below:

First the Buyer was out of state so taking him around in the car and pointing out area's was not an option.

Second- to turn this over to a New agent is not the solution either.

I walked away from this buyer and stuck to my code of ethics and grounds. In my opinion we as Real Estate agents are bound by not only the code of ethics but the Fair Housing and we can not make the decision for our clients as to what is considered a safe or good neighborhood.

We as agents can give them the information and a number of this can and is found in the Buyer Advisory which I give to all my buyers when I meet them for a consultation. We can give them demographics and the places to find the crime statistics for a given area.

What one person deems safe and good someone else may not agree.

I work too hard for my license and too many of my clients depend on me to keep it active. I will not take any chances in losing my license or being fined because something happened and a client said, you told me...I will not put myself in that situation.

We as Real Estate Professionals need to follow our hearts, our code of ethics and do the right thing.

An investor or a buyer can want us to do something, doesn't mean we have to or should.

Thank you all for your feed back and input.

Have a great New Year and may 2013 be healthy, and prosperous for us all with hard work!

And for you agents in other parts of the country, if you need a great referral agent in the Phoenix Market who will work very hard for her clients and is ethical and honest, here I am !

Debbie Nieman
Keller Williams Sonoran Living
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
Thanks for your ipost and letting us know the outcome. Best wishes to you too!
Flag Mon Jan 7, 2013
That's a good point, Annette, but it isn't completely on target.

To my mind, agents are mistaken when they cite the Fair Housing Act as a reason to avoid discussing safety. The FHA says nothing about crime and providing crime statistics. However, if we feel the need to elaborate by saying, "I don't know, there's a Russian Mafia crime boss who has his office across the street," then - I think we've crossed the line.

The real liability comes when we proclaim an area "safe" to a prospective client. When we make representations, as licensees we are pretty much guaranteeing them. Now, I'm pretty sure that no Realtor® has gotten sued after one of our recent mass shootings, but I'm not going to tell ANY client that they'll be safe in their neighborhood, AND I'm not going to interpret crime statistics for them.

The reason We have a Fair Housing Act is because Realtors® were instrumental in fostering discrimination - our professional grandparents used to knock on the doors of white families and tell them, "I know you're open minded people, and I'm not just trying to get a listing here, but I thought you'd like to know that a colored family just bought the house down the street. I know you're not worried about your property values, but your neighbors just might start fire-saleing their houses . . . yes, you can sign right here."

"Steering," in that context, means deciding for people where they should live based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, and in many states - sexual preference.

So when people post, "Where do the gays live?" "Where my JewBros at!" "Where are all the single ladies living!" "What's a neighborhood withing walking distance to a mosque?" "I want a window that looks into a supermodel's bedroom" - I'm sorry, that's not how we find homes for people. (The last example? Not a Fair Housing Act issue. Sorry for the diversion!)

We don't have to "Dance." We can tell people - I tell people - straight out: I can't tell you whether this is a safe neighborhood. I can't tell you where the supermodels cruise the produce section looking to be harassed by your ugly self. Why don't you tell me what mosque you're interested in and what you consider to be "walking distance?"

We're licensed by the State, not just to serve our clients, but to serve the General Public as well.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
Let us NOT overlook the reality that these laws which are so strongly defended have created the consumers most frequently asked question for which we are prevented from answering. It seems so basic and fundamental, simple a need of every home buyer. Yet as a profession all we can do in response to this fundamental question is DANCE!
"I want to buy a home for $250,000 in a good, safe neighborhood."
Being prevented from providing the response we know and the consumer knows is available has the consequence of planting the seed of suspicion on those who actively withhold IMPORTANT information. The outcome seems to be the opposite of ethics, when we can' t say, "We are standing in the middle of the shooting zone," but must do our 'dance' and attempt to lead the expectant buyer reach such a conclusion on their own. The opposite of ethics is taking what needs to be said into the secrecy of back rooms and private conversations and coded dialog. That which inhibits transparency encourages transgression. But wrap it around a convoluted 'ethics' statement...and that makes it all OK.
It appears hypocritical to me, when every professional says real estate is all about 'location, location, location,' and we evade crucial location questions.
"Is this a good area?"
"Is it safe for my family."
"Should a single woman who works shift work at the hospital live here?"
"My 11 year old daughter, Charity, and I will be living here together since Herbert died, will we be safe."
Maybe it's just me, but I make great attempt to respond to the concerns of buyers with transparent responses, because they hired with the assurance "I've got their back."
These are the frustrating consequences professionals face and what plants the seeds of distrust when they 'ask the question' we evade the question, while the window iron, abandoned cars and marks are in clear sight. If we can't be trusted to provide the simple answers....geesh. But we can dance!
Now, I am not advocating abolishing the fair housing laws. I am promoting the idea there are consequences that DO NOT SERVE THE CONSUMER well, and creates a deterioration of the service we can provide. The 'lame' response, and clearly and obviously misleading guidance we offer to the consumer, directing them to 'Trulia' crime pages or other invalid sources is, in essence, a vacating of our responsibility to those we serve. Where is the accountability in regards to these third parties?
But, you are right, it is ethical to 'steer' the consumer to resources whose data is not validated by ANYONE while we withhold critical information and the consumer sees the 'dance' and lowers their professional expectation and opinion another notch or two; Then their is the cry, "Raise the entry bar so our public image can be improved!!" Geesh.
So, do you think Charity's mom will decode what "Nice iron work' really means?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
you're certainly free to pick any soapbox you want .......just think you picked the wrong one in regard to making a political statement where the federal Fair Housing laws are concerned

to each his own..........
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
All I'm saying is that government has a habit of putting policies in place which seem to be a good idea but unfortunately a lot of the time has bad consequences. We are a free people governed by laws and morals but the bigger that government gets, the smaller the people and our freedoms become. We need a balance, and that balance is going toward too much unnecessary regulation and against small business. Something to think about.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
Whoa! Do away with Fair Housing Laws as they are not needed?! I think that maybe you should brush up on what they do and how they do protect consumers.

And, as for all people being morally ethical in their practices...please, keep in mind that not all real estate agents are REALTORS® (members of NAR) who must abide by a standards of practice and code of ethics. I'm sure every experienced real estate agent can tell you a story about a situation on how they dealt with another agent who was not practicing ethical behavior and was being underhanded in their way of doing business.

I disagree with your remarks and believe that you should take the course in Fair Housing laws as a means to rethink your stance.

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
All business people are guided by ethics and the law, with the majority of us following a good, inner guide of moral business practices. The increased number of government regulations hinders the small businessperson and ultimately the consumer by increasing prices to our detriment. Most of the Fair Housing laws are quite frankly, no longer necessary. Those who wish to engage in reprehensible behavior do so anyway. A free society is more important than trying to catch a very few bad apples. The majority of us, meanwhile, suffer bureaucratic zealots and ineptitude in government agencies.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
It's a shame that government regulations intrude so deeply into our free enterprise system that we have to be concerned with trivial matters in the so-called name of "fairness" rather than being able to truly help our clients.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Hi Debbie,
I agree with Debbie Rose that you responded well to your situation with "steering". Often times it does need to be explained "upfront" with buyers that steering is prohibited by Federal Housing Laws and that you can only provide information on where to look in order to determine their own preferred neighborhoods and what the crime rates are.
I also suggest being a "tour guide" and drive them around the various areas of the town pointing out the amenities, places of interest, and public transportation. That way discussions can be had right then which may be helpful in determining their favorite neighborhoods.

Best wishes to you!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Well, I think you handled that call properly.

You can offer stats as to what areas have either maintained their prices better than others and seen shorter days on market, or, more recently, seen higher appreciation....or, offer good rental potenial, etc.

After he digests the information you provided, ask this investor to give you a list of the top 5 areas/towns, etc., he will consider, and then send him listings that match his criteria.

By the way - how did this person find you? Referral? Internet inquiry?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Trulia- and I did all that. He didn't want to hear it.
Flag Sat Jan 5, 2013
When a client asks about "good" neighborhoods I ask what he considers to be "good". Usually they say low crime, good schools, etc. I then send them information about crime, schools, etc. I guess if you stick with data you are not violating fair housing and still helping your client.

Good luck!

Jose Dias, REALTOR
(623) 418-5700
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 21, 2013

Every time this question comes up I feel I am walking a tight rope with tape over my mouth so as to not violate Fair Housing laws. In the back of my head I always assume I'm being shopped by HUD so as Joe D pointed out I too ask a LOT of questions. Ask them what exactly they consider a 'good neighborhood' and go from there. The usual suspects tend to be: good school districts, low crime, high appreciation, high rents, quiet and close to shopping. If they are concerned about schools I point them to for a break down of every school. Crime rates? I tell them they are available on each city's website. If they are in town and concerned about crime I tell them to watch the news and usually by the end of the news show they tell me where they don't want to look. I like to treat clients as if they were my good friends & family and give them my solid professional opinion but when it comes to this question unfortunately all you can do is help them find the information they are seeking and wait until they tell you what works for them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 19, 2013
you cannot 'steer' a person. you can listen and then try your best to help a potential buyer to find what he is requesting to invest in!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 11, 2013
I always respond that is what is good to one person may not be good to another. I also give them a copy of the AZ Buyer's Advisory. If they still keep asking, I tell them point blank I cannot steer; if I did, I could lose my license.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
@ Annette - "If we can't be trusted to provide the simple answers....geesh"

I agree with many of your points, but.............the answers just aren't so simple!

It's not simple to offer advice as to what neighborhood is "safe" or isn't safe. One person's "bad" neighborhood might be another person's dream pathway to home ownership, with entry level prices.

"Safe" is a subjective word.........and while we're all certainly concerned about the buyers we are currently working with - what about the person who bought a home in "that" neighborhood last year, for whatever reason, who is hard working and hoping other civic minded, hard working people will follow suit amd move into the neighborhood?
People DO buy homes in what some may deem questionable areas.

If we make those value judgements as to "bad" or "unsafe" neighborhoods, does that mean we write off those questionable neighborhoods, and all who live there?
As Mack said, Fair Housing isn't just for those buying protects everyone.

The stats and information aren't hidden in a secret locker - they are readily available for those who want to know about crime statistics - how many shootings, car jackings, robberies, drug arrests, etc have occurred, if any . My goopdness, with the internet today, there is nothing you can't find online 0 even lists of registered sex offenders.
We can absolutely provide market information for those who want to see what the trending is in a particular neighborhood. They can draw their own conclusions after gathering the information.

Many, many years ago, a very high end town near me was known to be "restricted", and I won't go into detail as to who wasn't welcome there. Supposedly, as I was child then, so I only heard about this, if you wanted to list or buy a home there, you called the one local "acceptable" office (they were all pretty much mom and pops back then), and left your name. If you were deemed appropriate, you were called when a new listing came along, and shown the house.
As new areas developed in the 60's, fortunately, that all changed, and eventually everyone, if not totally welcomed by the old guard, was moving in. Now it is a diverse community, albeit an expensive one.

As I mentioned in my earlier post - many areas that were considered "scary" in NYC are now gentrified and sought after - all due to some making the decision to take advantage of lower pricing and giving it a chance...maybe it was the only neighborhood they could afford at the time, but they bought with the hope the future would be brighter.

So........"Charity and her widowed mom" can be given the sources/resources to find the information they want........whether it's crime related or religion based or proximity to transportation or whatever it is that matters to them.

Safe is in the eye of the of the most luxurious high end malls is near me - every expensive , elegant store you can think of is there.........yet, it has been the scene of carjackings and robberies in the parking lot.........would I walk to my car in the dark without paying attention to my surroundings, even though I am in a fancy mall and "safe" town?
No, I wouldn't.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 7, 2013
The question I would ask is "What is a good area for an investor?"

Is it one that rents quickly? An area that offers better cash flow than other areas? An area that has greater potential for appreciation?

Good is a totally subjective term. Most people seem to want to think that "a good area" is one that supports certain demographics that could violate fair housing laws. But in reality from an investor perspective a good area is one that makes money for the investor regardless of other factors.

Personally I think if you "steer" your client to a property that has great ROI you are not violating any law.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 6, 2013
"Steering" isn't the problem. You can say that everyone who wants our advice wants to be "steered" into the right direction.

Now, if the qualifications for "good areas" fall into those categories defined by the Fair Housing Act . . . different matter.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Ask the investor how he defines a "good area". For example, he may be looking for areas where the "average" homes are selling for over $200K as opposed to an area where the average homes are selling for less than $100K. You can give him average selling prices in different areas.

He may define a good area that has homes built after 2000 as opposed to areas that have homes built in the 1950s.

If he is referring to crime and good areas give him the Trulia zoom in crime map and let him see the areas that he is most interested in.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Can't you tell him about areas you "hear" are nice or even areas you know your clients like with out giving your "professional" opinion? With respect to all the other commenters, it sounds like he is asking for help, he doesn't want crime reports he wants a human opinion. Isn't there something you can say without fear of steering?
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
actually, no, there really is nothing we can legally say that might be seen as steering someone to one area , or away from one area. We can point people in the direction to find answers and information, but subjective opinions about what is or isn't "noce" or "best" are just that......subjective and individual.
There is always someone buying in one of "those" areas that you personally may not like, so each buyer has to make up their own mind and do their due dilligence.
Flag Sat Jan 5, 2013
I would tell him to look up crime reports by zip code. I would also tell him to put in some "winshield time" and drive some areas. He can also ask other investors (who are not agents) what neighborhoods they like.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
Send the client an active list of all available properties in their search criteria; and ask the client to advise you what properties he or she would like to see.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
That depends on what/whom you wish to work with and whether this kind of project is on your 2013 resolution. I often give this kind of leads to new agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
That depends on what/who you wish to work and whether this kind of project is on your 2013 resolution.

I often give this kind of leads to new agents.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2013
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