What does fair housing have to do with it?

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People often ask me if this is a good neighborhood or a bad neighborhood. They will state that they want their children to be in a good school, what parent wouldn’t want their child in a good school. Sometimes clients will ask the ethnicity of an area or if the schools in the area are good. They will ask about crime in the area including whether there are any sexual predators living in the area.

Realtors cannot answer these questions due to fair housing laws. Under the Federal Housing Act of 1968, this would be considered steering- Attempting to steer someone into purchasing a home in a particular neighborhood or to steer them away from another neighborhood.

What is a good neighborhood versus a bad neighborhood will differ from person to person. What feels safe to one person may not feel safe to another person. I always suggest that clients drive the area that they are interested in at night and during the day as well as during the week and on the weekends. In addition, I think they should get out and walk the neighborhood, if you are physically capable of doing so, maybe even talk to a neighbor or two. If you don’t feel comfortable walking the neighborhood, you probably aren’t going to feel comfortable sleeping there at night. There are websites that will give crime data. Buyers may also wish to ask at the police department for crime statistics in neighborhoods they are interested.

A Realtor cannot state that one school is better than another school, because that is an opinion. They can say that a certain school is the deaf education school in a certain district, or that a certain school won the last state championship in football, because these are facts. The best way a buyer can determine if a school is perfect is the view the school in person and check out websites.

While I understand buyer’s concerns about the location of the property they are purchasing, I am 100% completely committed to fair housing and equal opportunity for all. I cannot answer subjective questions, because there isn’t a right answer to those questions. My impression of what is safe or good will be different from someone else’s. I cannot answer questions on ethnicity of a neighborhood, because that might steer someone from feeling welcome in that area. The answer to these questions is subjective and requires the buyer’s due diligence.