What Your Real Estate Agent Can't Tell You

What Your Real Estate Agent Can't Tell You

  • 04/22/24

When working with a real estate agent in the process of buying a home, it’s important to understand that there are certain topics they legally cannot discuss. Knowing what these are can help you set realistic expectations and conduct your own research where necessary.

What Your Real Estate Agent Can't Tell You

Real estate agents are bound by legal and ethical rules, which limit the information they can provide. This guide highlights areas where agents must tread carefully:

  • Specific demographic information
  • Personal opinions on neighborhoods
  • Information about crime rates
  • Direct school quality assessments
  • Future property value predictions

Here’s a closer look at each.

Specific Demographic Information

Real estate agents are legally restricted from providing specific demographic information about a neighborhood. This includes details like the racial, religious composition, or the average age of its residents. These restrictions are set in place by the Fair Housing Act, a federal law that aims to prevent discrimination in the buying, selling, renting, and financing of homes based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. The purpose of this law is to ensure that all individuals have equal access to housing opportunities and that decisions in the real estate market are not influenced by discriminatory factors. As a result, agents must remain neutral and factual, focusing on the tangible aspects of a property and its surroundings, rather than the demographic makeup of its community.

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Personal Opinions on Neighborhoods

When it comes to expressing personal opinions about neighborhoods, real estate agents must exercise caution. They are obliged to refrain from sharing subjective views on whether a neighborhood is good or bad. This professional boundary is established to prevent agents from influencing or steering a buyer's decision based on personal biases or perceptions, which could be interpreted as discriminatory practices. Agents are expected to provide objective information about a property and its features, and they can share factual data about a neighborhood, such as proximity to amenities, public transportation, and local developments. However, they should avoid sharing personal judgments or opinions that could sway a buyer's choice in a particular direction.

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Information About Crime Rates

Discussing crime rates or the safety of a neighborhood is another area where real estate agents must tread carefully. Agents are not allowed to provide or comment on crime statistics or the perceived safety of an area. This is because such discussions could potentially lead to steering or redlining, practices that are prohibited under fair housing laws. Instead, buyers are encouraged to conduct their own research on these matters. This can be done by contacting local law enforcement agencies, utilizing online crime mapping tools, or engaging with community members to get a sense of the area's safety profile. This independent research allows buyers to make informed decisions based on their own findings and comfort levels.

Direct School Quality Assessments

Similarly, real estate agents are not permitted to directly comment on the quality of schools in an area. This policy is in place to avoid any form of discrimination or influencing a buyer's decision based on the perceived quality of education. Buyers who are interested in the local schools are advised to seek out information themselves. This can involve reviewing publicly available resources, such as state education department websites, which often provide data on school performance, programs offered, and student demographics. Visiting schools personally and speaking with educators or parents in the community can also provide valuable insights into the quality and suitability of schools for a buyer's specific needs.

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Future Property Value Predictions

Predicting the future value of a property is a complex and uncertain task, and real estate agents generally avoid making such speculations. Market conditions can fluctuate due to a variety of factors, including economic trends, changes in the local community, and broader national events. As a result, agents cannot guarantee whether a property's value will go up or down over time. They may provide historical data on property values and trends in the area, but they cannot make definitive predictions about future market movements. Buyers are encouraged to consider a range of factors, including their own long-term plans and financial situation, when assessing the potential future value of a property.

In summary, while real estate agents are a valuable source of information and guidance in the home-buying process, there are certain topics they are legally and ethically unable to discuss. Understanding these limitations helps buyers know where they might need to conduct their own research to inform their decisions fully. By navigating these areas carefully, buyers can gather the necessary information to make a well-informed and confident choice in their home purchase.

FAQ About Real Estate Agent Limitations

Check out these commonly asked questions about topics real estate agents cannot discuss.

Why Can't Agents Provide Demographic Information?

Agents can't provide demographic information to comply with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Where Can I Find Information About Neighborhood Safety?

To find information about neighborhood safety, you can contact the local police department, use online crime reporting tools, or talk to residents in the area to get their perspectives.

Related: Scottsdale’s role in the Wild, Wild West

How Can I Assess School Quality?

To assess school quality, you can look at public resources like state education websites, visit the schools, or talk to parents in the community to gather information about their experiences.

Is It Possible to Get a Sense of Future Property Values?

While agents can’t predict future property values, they can provide historical market data and trends. For future projections, consider consulting with a real estate market analyst or financial advisor.

Can an Agent Refuse to Show Me Properties in Certain Areas?

An agent cannot refuse to show properties based on neighborhood demographics or personal opinions. If you feel an agent is not showing you homes in certain areas without a valid reason, it might be a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Understanding the limitations of what real estate agents can legally and ethically discuss is important in the home-buying process. It helps you know what areas require your own research and ensures that the information you receive is unbiased and in compliance with the law.

Are You Buying or Selling a Home in Scottsdale?

If you’re selling a luxury home in Scottsdale, we can help. You can use our home value calculator to get a ballpark idea on what your home may be worth – and you can call us at 602-694-3200 to talk to a REALTOR® about how we can market your home to all the right buyers.

If you're also looking for a new home, we’ll be happy to show you the homes that interest you most. While you’re here, explore all our Scottsdale real estate listings or look in specific communities:

Don Matheson
REALTOR® | Founder
The Matheson Team
RE/MAX Fine Properties
21020 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85255
[email protected]


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