Questions That Can Get Your Realtor In Trouble

By
Real Estate Agent with thredUP.com

Shh...SecretsOccasionally I run across a new client, that like many, asks a lot of questions.  I love questions. I would rather my clients ask 300 questions than leave one out that would make them buy or sell a home without knowing everything.

However, there are some questions that new clients ask that could get a Realtor in trouble.  They are normal questions.  Generally they are not hateful or misleading, just very tricky for an agent to answer. Often times, we can't answer it at all. 

Here are some questions and why we can't, or shouldn't, answer them:

  • Am I getting a good interest rate?  Great question!  But, I do not really know. If I said yes, I could be very wrong. As a Realtor I specialize in the Sales side of Real Estate.  The mortgage industry literally changes daily.  Mortgage related questions vary on MANY different factors.  I may not know the complete answer, but I know excellent Mortgage Professionals that would.
  • What should I offer?  Great Question!  A home is a personal and emotional decision.  The home may be worth one amount, but is it worth it to you?  First, decide what in your heart you feel the home is worth.  I will then put together a list of Comparable Sold Properties and show you a range of what Comparable homes are selling for.  This is absolutely the best way to make an educated decision.  You should be in control of what your ultimate Sale Price is, I am your tool to help you get there.
  • What do you think this home would sell for in 3 years?  As a Realtor I have the ability to follow trends, but life and the Real Estate Industry is ever changing.  There is no telling what could happen next year, or even next week.  I would love to share the Market Trends with you, but keep in mind that nothing is for certain.
  • Are the schools good?  Great Question!  I have 2 children and I want them to go to great schools as well.  However, my child's experience may be different than another.  Most school districts have a Report Card online that will show you how the school rates with the State in comparison with others.  Would you like for me to send you the link?
  • How is the neighborhood?  This could be a good question too, but this is a BIG No No for an agent to answer in a few different ways.  We have Fair Housing Laws to abide by. Also, trying to sell one neighborhood over another could be considered "steering".  This could have Major Legal Ramifications on your agent.  I probably have resources that can help you make a wise decision.
  • Should  I be worried about this on my inspection report?  Great Question!  Unfortunately, I may not know the answer.  It is always best to get a licensed person out to take a look at it. i.e. Electrician, a/c and heat, Termite.  These professionals can give you the ins and outs as to why you might want to consider a certain repair.  Would you like the name and number of a few to call?

As an agent I am your partner to finding the right house and help you make the right choices.  I will do everything in my power to get all of your questions answered.  But if I say I can not answer a question, it may be because it is not my area of expertise or it could even be a violation of our Code of Ethics or law. 

Please, ask questions. Even ask me the questions I listed above.  If I can't answer it I would be more than happy to find a resource for you.  The more questions you ask, the more I know you will make the right decision on a home. 

 

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Rainmaker
201,801
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Hi Pam, That's a great way to handle it!  Good job.

Hi Brad, sounds like you have your hands full with business!  But, it sounds like you handle it all well.

Thanks Bradley, It's funny how this was intended to be a public post. I'm glad it helped everyone!  :)

Armando, you are so right. 

Jun 27, 2007 04:37 AM #78
Rainer
29,642
Bill Baptista
Columbus, OH

Good information here that I'll be sure to remember next time these questions come up...Thank you!

Jun 27, 2007 03:22 PM #79
Rainmaker
241,800
Brad Snyder
Sierra Vista Realty - Sierra Vista, AZ

This is the one area we are most likely to get us in trouble. You want to be helpful and your clients are unaware of the laws regarding real estate. We must all remind ourselves what can put us in hot water. Great post and great reminders.

http://www.45daylistings.com/

Jun 28, 2007 02:00 AM #80
Rainmaker
185,530
Irina Netchaev
Pasadena Views Real Estate Team, Inc. - Pasadena, CA
Pasadena CA Real Estate
Stephanie, congratulations on the Featured post!  Great Questions and really wonderful explanations.
Jun 28, 2007 03:28 AM #81
Rainmaker
1,242,875
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

The equivalent questions for a home inspector are:

Okay, you might not want to answer this, but would you want to live in this neighborhood?

Okay, you might not want to answer this, but would you buy this house?

Jun 28, 2007 04:03 AM #82
Rainmaker
201,801
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Thanks Bill, glad it helped.

Hi Brad, Thanks! 

Thanks Irina!

Hi Steven, Thanks for the input.

Jun 28, 2007 06:19 AM #83
Rainer
8,090
Patrick Martin
Re/Max Edge - Chicago, IL
What a great post Stephanie!  This is one I'm going to bookmark and I'll definitely be coming back to it for a visit now and again!
Jun 28, 2007 10:53 AM #84
Rainer
2,891
Scot Walker
First Choice Real Estate - Houlton, ME

Nice Job Stephanie!

Very will written and a interesteing read.. thanks,

Scot Walker

First Choice Real Esate

Houlton, Maine

www.countyfirstchoice.com

207-532-4500 

 

Jun 29, 2007 07:18 AM #85
Rainmaker
201,801
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Hi Partick- Thanks!

Thanks Scot!

Jun 30, 2007 07:21 AM #86
Rainmaker
4,412,207
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Great post. The longer we are in the business, the wiser we become, and we may know the answers to some questions and yet not answer it, but direct them to the specialists. The people I tell them to talk to most often are 1. Their attorney 2.their accountant 3. the home inspector to explain the report.

 

Jul 06, 2007 11:21 PM #87
Rainer
60,063
Steven Shewell
Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. - Ephrata, PA
The Mortgage Maverick

Really good tips.  Too often, in an effort to be helpful, an agent will open their mouth and insert their foot.

The intention was good and honorable, but the end result could be a mess.  Sometimes, trying to service your clients is like trying to negotiate a minefield blindfolded.

Jul 06, 2007 11:33 PM #88
Rainmaker
201,801
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Hi Gita, that is right.  Always refer them to the pros.  The more experience an agent gets the more pros we meet.  I know I keep adding to my list.  :)

Hi Steven, LOL at the minefield..but it's true.  Being able to communicate the reasons why we can't explain it is very important.

Jul 09, 2007 12:20 AM #89
Rainmaker
483,957
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Stephanie,

This is fantastic. Would you mind if I linked to this blog in my SWSU course for Buyer Agents?

Let me know!

 Jennifer

Jul 15, 2007 04:22 AM #90
Rainmaker
201,801
Stephanie Edwards-Musa
thredUP.com - The Woodlands, TX
knitwit at thred UP

Thanks Jennifer!

Jul 15, 2007 04:56 AM #91
Anonymous
Anonymous
As a new agent, I find this advice to withhold opinion to be dissatisfying. Somebody that asks me about a school system or a neighborhood that I know a lot about would be getting less than they deserve. While I agree that you can point to valid resources to gather facts, informed opinion is what I want from an agent. I would hope to have an agent that can speak their mind without violating statutes. Am I being naive and unrealistic?
Aug 26, 2007 02:09 PM #92
Rainer
501
Doug Wiggin
Austin, TX

Sorry to repeat (this time WITH a login) 

As a new agent, I find this advice to withhold opinion to be dissatisfying. Somebody that asks me about a school system or a neighborhood that I know a lot about would be getting less than they deserve. While I agree that you can point to valid resources to gather facts, informed opinion is what I want from an agent. I would hope to have an agent that can speak their mind without violating statutes. Am I being naive and unrealistic?

Aug 26, 2007 02:12 PM #93
Rainer
13,178
Gabe Swinney Asheville New Urbanism
Gabe Swinney - Asheville, NC

Stephanie,

Thank you for these important reminders, seems a little like walking on egg shells sometimes. 

Aug 27, 2007 04:33 AM #94
Rainer
7,643
Julie Winter
McKinney, TX
When Clients ask what the property will be worth in the future I always tell them that every since I dropped my real estate crystal ball, it hasn't been that reliable. You have to follow that with a smile but it usually people realize what they're asking.
Sep 06, 2007 06:38 AM #95
Rainmaker
65,455
Susan Oliver
RE/MAX Capital - Providence Forge, VA
Experienced, Professional Realtor
It does seem like walking on egg shells a bit!  Oh - well- we don't want to get in trouble for being honest with our opinions do we???????????? It's a great life!~
Nov 29, 2007 04:17 AM #96
Rainmaker
208,804
M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)
NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time - Grand Canyon, AZ
Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS

Good Grief! It was a lot of work scrolling to the bottom of your comments. I cheated, I did not read them all. Part of our training is teaching us where the lines are. If we practice law, we get in serious trouble, we have to discipline ourselves in several areas because we are taught facets of the other professionals business, but we are not the bottom line professional there. That goes for practicing law, doing home inspections (my inspector/advisor constantly stresses that I should not step into his turf), CMA's are not Appraisals, either--yet on real estate shows you hear them saying the REALTORs appraised value...

I like for my clients to be as empowered as possible: Getting their free credit reports, analyzing them for errors, use common sense in cleaning it up, then knowing their credit score. In my humble opinion, once you know your credit score, if you have been honest with yourself, then at http://myfica.com you can get a general idea of what interest rate you can expect to pay. Of course, some lenders may slap my hand even at that point.

In the big scheme of things, paying for the appropriate professional services is a drop in the bucket compared to the price of a home, or getting stuck in a nasty transaction.

Feb 07, 2008 02:36 AM #97
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Stephanie Edwards-Musa

knitwit at thred UP
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