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.
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Episode 2 is here!Jilly & Jade talk about why they got into real estat
"I tried to sell last year and I was unsuccessful so I decided to get some new opinions on what I should do. I interviwed two agents when I was getting ready to sell my home the second time. Angela and the other top person in the area. I was very impressed with both and both she and Angela came up with similar values for our home. The problem was that Angela's value was with me doing three projects and the other Realtor told me that I did not have to do anything. My wife and I were leaning on going with the other Realtor and Angela asked if she could come over and go over a few things with us.
She pulled out the comparable homes that we had picked together when she first met with us and she asked us to look at the pictures. All of the things that Angela was telling us we should do were done on those homes.
She then asked us to think about the signs that we have seen in the area that were his and the signs that we have seen in the area that were hers. Then she asked us one really good question. she said "Do you want to list with the agent that has his signs go up, quickly have a sold sign and then the sign disappears or list with the agent that seems to have the signs up forever. It seemed really logical but we had never thought about it that way. I had always thought about how many signs I saw for the other agent. It made sense that the other agent was not doing more business than, it's that her signs stayed up much longer.
We were convinced to list with Angela but we told him that we thought that our home would be able to sell without doing the things that Angela had suggested. she told us she would market our home like it was the best thing on the market. A month later our home had not sold. she told us we could do the things that she had suggested or drop the price to match the value.
Being a stubborn German, I did two of the things that Angela suggested but not the third. Three weeks later, Angela was talking to me about feedback. she told me that we were going to hurt ourselves unless we decided on one path or the other. Either finish the last project or drop the price before we were stale on the market.
I finished the last project, we went back on the market and sold three showings later. I tell my friends that it was just luck but I know different. Everything that Angela told us she was going to do, she did. Everything that Angela told us was going to happen when we first met with him happened. The price we would get for our home if we did the projects she said we needed to do, we got (once we did the project) she told us the truth and I am grateful that we listed with him and I would suggest that anyone selling a home interview him.