What Your Realtor Won’t Tell You

    As soon as you start looking for the best neighborhoods in which to live or ask about the local schools, you’ll want to have an expert. But, trying to answer this becomes tricky because the person you most trust and want to ask for their opinion on your new home is going to be your Realtor, and your Realtor can’t tell you what you want to know.

    Answering these questions became tricky because of a hard-won fight for equal rights during the 1970s by the National People’s Action (NPA). The NPA identified racial and socioeconomic inequality with housing that was being caused by the very people responsible for providing housing services for the community. By Redlining, or drawing lines around specific districts, lenders were able to raise rates, and real estate professionals could steer clients either into our out of these racially segregated neighborhoods.

    This practice created racially isolated neighborhoods of specific ethnic groups of Irish, English, Hispanic, Black, and other groups. In some instances, disreputable real estate agents would contact homeowners and scare them into selling their home at a discount by telling them a member of a different ethnic group was moving into the neighborhood. Looking back on these behaviors from the twenty-first century it is easy to see how things had to change to provide fair housing for everyone.

    Many local laws were being passed during this time to help with the issue of segregation but our nation needed to find a solution to the problem of discrimination. By using the fact that many lending companies cross state lines, Congress started by enacting the Community Reinvestment Act and quickly followed by others with the result being an end to the racial and ethnic isolation.

    What that means for you today is however that no one can tell you where to live, in any way other than by providing your facts that are substantiated by records or statistics. Even if supported by facts if the information violates fair housing for any of the protected classes, then that information will not be provided. The most obvious of this information is the racial makeup of the neighborhood, but this extends as far as to include how many kids live in your community.

    Your Realtor is a trained expert in market conditions and with the home itself. They are not a sociologist or a civic planner. These aspects of a neighborhood are not something on which they should voice their opinion.

    If however, you have specific questions about your home feel free to ask. The worst that will happen is your Realtor will politely apologize and inform you that they can not answer. Some questions they can answer however and these include items of neighborhood property values, if values are in decline, any planned changes to the zoning for the area, effects of traffic patterns on future sales of the home. The trick is tying everything back to the house, it’s valued, and what you hired your Realtor to do and that helps you make an informed decision on the property your purchasing.

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