Home Buying in California>Question Details

Denise, Home Buyer in California

What "does" an agent tell you?

Asked by Denise, California Sat Nov 1, 2008

Hi. My husband and I are very confused. We have an agent and everytime we ask about schools, neighborhoods or crime... we're told "I'm not allowed to disclose that" from our agent. Then what does an agent do? What are they "allowed" to tell you? I asked our agent that question before and she told me she could lose her license for "telling us anything about the neighborhood, schools, or crime." I would think an agent would be more afraid of a buyer coming back to their office after their home, children or spouse was violated for the agent not providing a warning. How do we find all this information out about an area? A friend of mine said thats why her and a few others chose not to use agents and just used that as a bargining chip with their sellers. They did all their own research and just went through attorneys or the sellers agent.

Help the community by answering this question:


An agent is not allowed to place any influence on the client in regards to neighborhood stats. We can tell you factual information but cannot supply you with information that comes from an unreliable or unchecked source. It is a sticky area for agents and brokers to be in due to a heavy mandate from the state and local association of realtors ethics and business and professions code of standards.

It is frustrating for you and us both. Believe me. But if we were to offer information to you based solely on what the "talk of the day" or "rumor" is then that is considered unfair information. If the client places all of his/her decision making based solely on what their agent told them and then believes it not to be true or reliable later on then the agent could be sued for providing false information to a client in order to close a deal. So, the questions you are asking should be answered by an authority on the subject of the question such as the California State Department of Schools regarding testing scores, ratings, size, etc. Neighborhood crime stats come directly from the county or city online resources. Or better yet, contact the police department that patrols a certain neighborhood and ask them directly what the crime rate is for that area. Many agents offer city and community demographics online for your convenience.

There are so many factors involved in choosing the right home that meets your needs. It's a shame that some buyers have been either been swayed inappropriately by their agent or simply wants to place the blame for a decision they made that created buyer's remorse. That's California's legal system at work making all of our honest efforts that much more difficult.

Believe me and I know I can speak for many other agents too. We want to help you in so many ways and feel sorry that our hands may be tied due to past indiscretions made by a mere fraction of the diligent , ethical and responsible agents working to provide you with the best home buying venture possible.

Good luck and happy house hunting. Remember that so much information you are searching for is easily accessible online through county and city websites.

Diane Wheatley, Broker
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
An agent should tell you where to go to get the school info, neighborhood info and crime statistics. An agent can tell you about the condition of the property, the price, how that compares to recently solds, and much more.
What an agent cannot do is to violate the Fair Housing Act by telling you what "kind of people" live in the neighborhood regarding race, family status, disability, color, sex, religion, or disability. The part about you thinking the agent sould fear the buyer coming back has happened. So now there are more laws and more guidelines about what an agent is responsible for.
For the crime portion, agents must not accuse or step into legal territory. They are responsible for disclosing info about the property & any financial info that might compromise the ability for that party to perform.
Most agents, myself included, will give the buyer a place to go for that info, some of us put the links on our website. Try watchdog for sexual predators and your local law enforcement site or newspaper for crime statistics.
There does seem to be a trend towards buyers using the listing agent in their real estate purchases. The thing is that they are taking a step back in time by doing so. It was Consumer Advocacy Groups who petitioned, demonstrated, marched, and finally got the Buyer's Agency passed.
People tell me all kinds of stories about how they bought through the seller's agent. I never ever ever tell them what could have been different. After all, they're happy; why would I want to burst their bubble? And the ones who are unhappy? Well, it's kind of late to be coming to me for advice after the transaction. The seller's agent did their job in representing the seller and the buyer didn't do as well as they thought. But that was their choice. To be unrepresented.
It's a free country.
Web Reference: http://www.mariatmorton.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
Most city or county websites will list information about their city and schools. You can look up crime rates and various other stats on a neighborhood. An agent can not steer you to or away from an area by stating their opinion, but they can point you towards the information you are looking for.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
Your agent should tell you all you want to know about schools, crime, etc ..... and get you the info/ websites/ etc. so you can look up stuff yourself. A good buyers agent is worth their weight, in gold, to you....
Web Reference: http://tomlyons.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 6, 2008
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