In Vivian Toy’s excellent article Questions Your Broker Can’t Answer complete with cartoons and charts (I was in heaven), tackled the tough issue of fair housing laws and what brokers can say. There is a lot of bias out there generated from buyers and sellers, and real estate brokers can’t be party to it.
The problem is, that violations are often not seen by the violators since its been part of the dialog for so long. Just think of the lack of transparancy in co-op transactions. Whats so common in New York, like excluding lawyers by some co-op boards, is mortifying to most in other markets, no matter what your feelings about attorneys happen to be.
Ignorance may be bliss, but it won’t serve as an excuse any more.
[…] 6/25/2007: It seems that much of the talk about this article is naturally centered in New York. Matrix, True Gotham and Property […]
Everything is illegal in Minnesota. I think we can tell them the price, and of course have to disclose any defects but can’t say a dang thing about the neighborhood. Clients ask, and I say I can’t and they think I am hiding something.
The article made me really think about how laws meant to serve the public may at times be a disservice. I wonder if there is anything wrong with a buyer’s agent answering questions asked by their buying clients. I agree with Ms. Kleier (quoted in the article)in that homebuyers rely on their agents to inform them about how they might experience living in a particular residence. Answering questions about the neighbors with facts, staying away from opinions and judgments, empowers the would-be buyer to efficiently draw conclusions saving them from, for example, having to take off work for a day of reconnaissance. This topic reminds me of advice that agents get from attorneys regarding service providers. Agents are told that they should never recommend home inspectors, lenders, title companies etc. because, if the client has a bad experience, they may find themselves in a lawsuit. But when a client asks for a recommendation and the agent refuses, the client is confused if not outright angry. When the agent is representing the seller or both buyer and seller, then surely any questions of this sort should be banned. There is too great of a potential for the discriminatory and deplorable practice of steering away those not fitting a certain profile. But I wish someone would explain to me who is discriminated against when an agent honestly answers his or her buyer client a question about the neighbors. If I am missing something, I definitely want to know as I would never want to advocate descrimination.
I just took an FHA renewal course last week and although I came away with tons of great knowledge I can’t help but feel that we losing our abilities as agents because of fear or liability. Most, if not all, agents now think twice every time they open their mouth with clients or even prospects. Scary isn’t it?
[…] Matrix » Brokers Sticking To Talkin’ About The Weather Home | About | Subscribe Matrix Interpreting the Real Estate Economy Mon 25 Jun 2007 Brokers Sticking To Talkin’ About The Weather Posted by Jonathan J. Miller under Government , Brokers , Legal , Psychology Source: NYT In Vivian Toy’s excelle […]