“I want a house in a GOOD AREA!”
Ah, yes, the common “criteria” for most buyers when they first talk to their agent. As soon as I hear that, alarms go off in my head. Not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because (unbeknownst to them) I’m being set up for failure. We all want a house in a “good area”, right?! However, not only is this completely subjective but depending on my response to that person, it’s illegal.
Let me explain… First of all, what is a “good area”? To you it may mean a ritzy neighborhood with yachts in your backyard. To someone else it may mean privacy with lots of land. Unfortunately, to most, it more than likely means to be closer to or further away from a certain class. This is where it gets dicey for realtors because of Fair Housing Laws. There are protected classes under this law:
- national origin
- religious preference
- familial status
If a buyer asks me to match or eliminate certain properties within these class guidelines, I CANNOT legally follow their instructions. In this case, the customer isn’t always right and my license is on the line! If you’re familiar with real estate jargon then you know the definition of steering: the illegal funneling of home buyers to a particular area based on the desire to keep the makeup of that neighborhood the same or intentionally change it. Racial steering receives the most consumer complaints, but the practice is not acceptable for any reason, and it goes against Fair Housing laws.
Bottom line, Realtors want to help you find the property that’s the best fit for you, however in order to protect our ethics code, we must give you the resources to educate yourself. It’s important to understand that you, the buyer, must make your own informed decision on the “area”. No matter what, responding to this question is like walking on thin ice but I offer my clients some tools that might help you as well. I encourage my buyers to call our local police departments to discuss the crime rate in the area that they’re thinking of buying in. Police officers are not governed by the same laws that Realtors are and would be able to offer up more detailed information for you. Below are some helpful websites
www.spotcrime.com – Search crime in the area.
http://www.leegov.com/residents/newresidents/Pages/default.aspx – Look up school systems and other valuable information for new residents to Lee County
http://www.familywatchdog.us/ – Search the national sexual predator list.
If you have a smart phone, there are also some helpful free apps out there:
“Offender Locator” – Search crime in the area
If you have any questions or comments about this subject, feel free to contact me. I’d love your feedback.
Realtor® | SWFL Region
Treeline Realty Corp.
239.292.9404 (c) | 239.989.0138 (f)
www.kristenpell.com<–Search the MLS for FREE!
“Buy or Sell…Think Pell!” ™
Posted on May 17, 2012, in Real Estate and tagged BAO esri, Buy a Home, Color, Crime Rate, Fair Housing Laws, Familial Status, familywatchdog.us, Handicaps, Illegal, Kristen Pell, Lee County, leegov.com, National Origin, Offender Locator, Race, Real Estate Biz, Realtor, Religious Preference, Sex, spotcrime.com, Steering, SWFL Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.