I have been helping buyers and sellers for many years. Over the past few decades of selling real estate, people often ask questions I can't answer, either because of laws preventing disclosure, or because so many of the questions are subjective and change from person to person or situation to situation. Here are some common questions your Realtor can't tell you:
Is it a safe neighborhood?
This is probably the question I get asked most often. I can't possibly answer that, but I can direct you to either the local police department for crime statistics, or to online sites that can give you area crime reports. Regardless of what the current status of a neighborhood is, something could happen next week that might change your comfort levels
Is this a family-friendly neighborhood? (Or conversely - We don't want to live near children.)
Familial Status is a protected class under local and federal laws, so it's not legal for a Realtor to steer a client to an area that does or doesn't have children. If you want to be in child-friendly areas, you might look at homes near schools. To qualify as a Senior Only community, there are federal guidelines that must be adhered to, and exceptions cannot be made for some families and not others.
Is this a good elementary/junior high/high school?
As with many areas of housing, "good" and "safe" and "clean" are all subjective, meaning everyone's opinion can be different. For questions like this, statistics can be found online for certain school criteria. Once you've identified a home that interests you, you might also want to ask neighbors, or speak with teachers and staff at the school you're considering.
Can you find us a Catholic neighborhood? (or Jewish, or Mormon, or hispanic, or Lebanese, etc.)
Not only is religion a protected class, but so are nationalities. A Realtor can't possibly know what your criteria might be, nor is "steering" in any way legal. If there are specific places where you would like to live, specific neighborhoods where your friends live or where your group meets or where your church is located, then we can certainly show you homes in areas you request, but please don't ask us to specify those neighborhoods for you.
Are there sex offenders in the neighborhood?
Megan's Law requires convicted sex offenders to register their address with local officials. This information is available to the public. You may check the public records, or, for a nominal fee, get up-to-the-minute information from the police department in the locality of where you're considering a move. Since all information is subject to change (and not everyone registers how they're supposed to), if this is an area that's important to you, make sure you're comfortable with the information you gather.
We want you to advertise our house to single, young professionals.
Um . . . no. Besides other things, you can't discriminate based on marital status (this is considered discriminatory against someone who is not single) and age is protected (you can't solicit to exclude the elderly).
Will the house I'm buying go up in value?
If we had a crystal ball, we might better be able to answer that question. In 2007 when the market was hot, people thought they couldn't lose. Then 2008 happened, and we are slowly recovering. There are too many variables - area considerations, economy (especially local), style, etc. But if you liked the house when you bought it, chances are, when it comes time to sell, someone else will like it as well, especially if it's in good and clean condition.
Can we build a garage on the property?
Each municipality has different laws regarding setbacks and variances. If building a garage is important to you (or a shed or a separate structure or modifying the structure that currently exists), I recommend you check with your local building department to find their specifics for what you have in mind.
What's the standard real estate commission?
THERE IS NO STANDARD REAL ESTATE COMMISSION. I can tell you what my company charges as standard practice, but commission is negotiable and I can't speak to what any other company or agent charges.
Why do Trulia and Zillow advertise five bedroom houses for $50,000 on five acres on the lake that were never available?
I definitely can't answer that question. Please stop asking.
Located in the 11 county metro, The Trust Team is a leader in the Minnesota real estate market. The Trust Team was founded in 1978, yet represents the best of traditional market knowledge, cutting edge technology and top -notch customer service - all provided by 10 of the most experienced agents in the industry.
We combine the very latest in proprietary internet marketing, and make use of the most current and relevant real estate and social media platforms. We are considered leaders and innovators - always willing to try what is new, and use what is proven. Joe Niece, has more than 3000 past real estate clients, and is an information and renowned internet Guru. His wife Angela Niece and partners, Nikki Moeller, Matt Wolfe, Mike Finstad, Joe Jones, Cory Kingbay, Mary Ellen McGlone, and Stieg Strand have created a most unusual real estate team. 2015 was our best year ever with 498 satisfied clients which gave us the honor of being the #2 team in all of Minnesota. We want your business, promise your complete satisfaction and we are committed to your success !
In Zillow's own words they tell you the following:The Zestimate® home
"My home had failed to sell with my previous agent and I take the blame for that. I did not ask the correct questions and thought my home would sell quickly. I was so frustrated by the time that I had been on the market five months that I fired my first agent a month early. I was not going to make the same mistake again. My wife and I contacted five agents that had good reputations. The first one seemed good and she told us that our home was worth about what we told him we thought it was worth.
When the second agent came over, she seemed good also. I was excited with the price that the first agent had told us so I told the second agent that we thought our home was worth about 20,000 dollars more and we were shocked when she showed us that she could get that.
We told the third agent that we thought our home was worth 25,000 dollars more and amazing, she told us that she could get us that much for our home.
It was now obvious that the agents were telling us whatever we wanted to hear so we decided that we would see how far it would go. Every agent that we interviewed asked us what our home was worth and every agent told us close to the price we told them. We decided to try the reverse and we told the next two agents that our home was worth 50,000 and 100,000 less then the first agent told us and they showed us those numbers were correct. We were so frustrated that it was comical.
The on the 12th agent, we interviewed Angela. We were professionals by now and thought that we had heard everything. Angela was different. She did not tell us that our home was the best or things like that. She talked to us, asked about the home. Took notes as we showed him the home and she talked about all the things that she was going to do to market our home. It took him an hour to talk about marketing and she was pretty excited about quite a bit of it. Then she pulled out his laptop and had us sit on each side of him and she started doing a market analysis with us. She showed us exactly what she was doing, what criteria she was searching, to find similar homes etc.
As she was working on it, my wife started to tell him what she thought our home was worth and she stopped her in mid sentence and told her that she did not want to hear any numbers from us until she had told us his number. She used a phrase that my mother use to use and said that she did not want to sell his soul to the devil and be tempted to tell us what we wanted to hear vs what the truth might be. She said she would rather talk about his value vs our value if they were not the same. As she continued working with us and asking us about pictures from each of the homes that we looked at on his computer, she narrowed down our value and then told us that our home was worth about 325,000 dollars. Not to be thrown out of our game, I told him that I thought she was 50,000 dollar low and she asked what our home had that make it worth 50,000 more than the seven comparable homes that the three of us had picked together just 15 minutes earlier. I told him that our home was in better shape and she pulled up the pictures of the similar homes and said that she did not see a big difference between most of them and our home.
My wife then told him the range that other realtors had told us and she asked if we had the information that the other Realtors had left. We did and we showed him. She started showing us different foundation sizes, lot sizes, great rooms and other things that she said determined value on the homes, that the other Realtors that told us our home was worth 50-100k more, and it was obvious that she was not going to take the bait so we came clean and told him what we had been thru and that she was the 12th Realtor that we had interviewed.
We listed with Angela and she sold our home in 17 days. Angela was fun to work with and the entire time we worked with him it was smooth and she was easy to get a hold of if we had questions. I would recommend anyone that is buying or selling to work with Angela as she is willing to tell you the truth, spend time explaining what sells homes and what a home is worth and worked very hard.