Buyers beware … Fair Housing does not limit your decisions

Buyers beware, Fair Housing does not limit your decisions.  The Fair Housing Act was adopted in 1968 and then modified by amendments in 1988.   The law was part of the Civil Rights Act.  In short, it prohibited discriminating against people based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap, when those people are seeking housing.

The law covers those that are selling, renting or lending money to people.  End of story.

This may be one of the intended goals.

It is far from reality.

         People by nature are more comfortable with people that are from a similar race, color, national origin, or religion. People often prefer to live in an area where their particular chosen lifestyle is accepted.  People, across the board, want to feel comfortable in their new living environment.  It is just my opinion, but that seems to be human nature.

It is not a violation of the Fair Housing Act to assist them in finding a home that THEY want.

         Real estate agents seem to get confused or perplexed when dealing with buyers and/or renters.  They rebuff inquiries about neighborhoods or fall into the “strange mode” of ” I can show you anything based on your criteria, but I can not comment on the racial make up, color make up, predominant national origin or predominant religion in any area.” “I can not tell you about schools, crime or sexual offenders, but I can direct you to websites where you can discover the information your self.  I can not tell you about any potential changes to the community, but I can direct you to the planning office where you can research that information for yourself.”

          When asked, what then is your value Mr. or Ms. Realtor, I guess they can reply “I have access to the homes. I can open the door for you.”

          Oh, now there is justification for the money you earn! 

         It would seem to me that the value of an agent working with a buyer or renter is in part their knowledge of the community.  Clients come to agents and are quite open in their desires.  Should they be left to the whims of the agent? If someone asks to live in a predominantly Asian community, is the agent doing their job when they drive them all over hill and dale (when any agent that actually lives and works in the area knows full well where Asian communities are located).

          If a client wants to look at homes that are within walking distance of a religious location, is the agent doing their job when that drive them all over hill and dale ( when any agent that actually lives and works in the area knows full well where religious locations are located).

         I happen to believe that locating the right home is my job.  If there is reluctance on the part of the seller because of the race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap of my client, well then we shall seek the protection of the Fair Housing Act.  That is what the act exist for…to protect, not hinder those that are buying or renting a home.

          If you happen to be a single woman and the thought of walking through the gauntlet of young men jeering every night when you come home makes you sick,  you do have a right to find a home that may preclude that experience.  If you have a good agent, they should be able to assist you.  Just because testosterone laden cat calls are not illegal, does not mean you have to live where they might well exist.

         The internet is chock full of data that buyers can use. You can go to crime sites and see the crimes reported. You can go to city data sites and see the demographics of a neighborhood.  You can go to school sites and see the demographics of any school, including test rankings, racial breakdown and percentage of free lunch participants.  You can search and juggle data as infinitum.  Your agent should have internet access as well.

The law dictates that you can not be discriminated against on basic criteria.  YOU have the right to discriminate against anything you like when you are buying or renting.  No government can dictate where you choose to live.

          Buyers beware … fair housing does not limit your decisions. Fair housing protects your right to act on those decisions.  The law is a good law, but it is not a guideline for purchase or rental decisions.  Keep that in mind the next time you ask an intelligent question of an agent and get sent to Wikipedia or Google.

The third step in home buying

The third step in home buying is a thorough review of possible homes. Although, I list this as the third step, in reality, people usually begin the process by searching homes on the internet.  That early search is more for general information purposes and the third step search is based on your actual situation.

Something that most people are not aware of is the fact that what appears in general on line searches is often far from reality.  Every on-line search uses information generated by listing agents and entered into the multiple listing service.  This information is sold to brokers and others that then regurgitate portions of it on their branded sites.

The public is not always privy to the facts. The information deemed for public knowledge is usually limited to price, beds, baths and general information.  The photos are taken by the listing agent.  The listing agent chooses what you see and what you don’t see.

Another problem with secondary sites is that they are not always updated on a regular basis. Homes may appear as active and available that are in fact under contract and no longer available.  Homes that are under contract but available for a back up contract are often missing from the secondary sites.  The secondary sites also are careful not to mention the “short sale” status of the home.

An agent can go through listings and give you an accurate picture of homes available.  Following the on line search, you will visit homes that seem to meet your criteria. The eyes and ears and knowledge of  an experienced agent are your best resource in this phase.

One final point, if you happen to go out looking at open houses, DO NOT…Let me repeat…DO NOT fall prey to a listing agent. The listing agent CAN NOT represent you and their only goal is to sell the home for their client (They can only represent the seller). You may have heard that you can get a better deal if you let the listing agent write an offer for you, it just isn’t true.  What ever savings you may think you have garnered is far surpassed by the lost opportunity of representation.  Every piece of information you share with the listing agent must be shared with the seller.  If you do not understand this advice, please contact me so I can explain the reality of unrepresented purchasing.

The thorough review of possible homes usually begins with an on line search of possible homes. You may have already discovered that the internet is a well stocked resource of homes. Here is another step that is aided by a good real estate agent.  The wide range of homes that show up on line are not always what they appear to be. An agent can go through listings and give you an accurate picture of homes available.  Following the on line search, you will visit homes that seem to meet your criteria. The eyes and ears and knowledge of  an experienced agent are your best resource in this phase. DO NOT…Let me repeat…DO NOT fall prey to a listing agent. The listing agent CAN NOT represent you and their only goal is to sell the home for their client (They only can represent the seller).