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10 Things Your Realtor Can't Tell You

Real Estate Agent with Falcon Property Company

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:

  1. Is it a safe neighborhood?Realtor can't tell you if neighborhood is safe

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Realtor can't tell you about religious neighborhoodsCan 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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).

  7. Realtor can't tell you if your home value will increaseWill 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Why do Trulia and Zillow advertise five bedroom houses for $50,000 on five acres in the mountains that were never available?

    definitely can't answer that question. Please stop asking.

    Realtor can't tell you why Trulia advertises homes that aren't for sale


Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I would say those are all great questions to ask if you are considering a home. I understand the agent can't answer, but as a buyer I would want the answers!

May 22, 2016 06:54 AM
Mimi Foster

So it takes a good agent to direct you, right, Sharon? :)

May 22, 2016 11:27 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-739-3843

I found this re-blogged by Barbara Todaro and I especially love the last one--CLASSIC! 

May 22, 2016 11:25 AM
Mimi Foster

Hello, sweetheart. It's a question we get asked often enough, huh? Well, maybe not on a lake in Oregon, but us city folks do ;)

May 22, 2016 11:27 AM
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Also found Barbara's reblog (thanks!) - what an excellent summary - I'll be shaing this too!

May 22, 2016 11:30 PM
Mimi Foster

Thank you!

May 23, 2016 01:48 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Great post! Thanks for putting together the thoughts that we all have had - and a reminder when we should keep our mouths shut! 

May 28, 2016 09:39 PM
Mimi Foster

So true, Lisa. Thanks for stopping by.

May 28, 2016 09:53 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Mimi. These are questions that always get asked, and your responses are just perfect. Well done.

May 28, 2016 09:53 PM
Mimi Foster

Thanks so much, Sheila. I think almost every buyer I have that is not from here asks at least the first question.

May 28, 2016 09:58 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Mimi!  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites!

Enjoy your long weekend!

May 28, 2016 11:29 PM
Mimi Foster

Thanks so much, Patricia! I sincerely appreciate it.

May 28, 2016 11:59 PM
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Mimi, oh yes, heard all of those! And more! One time I was out with buyers and they wanted to know if there was a "good" Jewish population here. Hmm.... I don't know... (can't answer anyway). I never ask people what their religion is. It just so happened that I was minutes away from the local synagogue, so I just turned in and asked them to go in and speak to the people inside. They could help! Half hour later they came out all smiles. 

May 29, 2016 12:19 AM
Mimi Foster

That's the way to do it, Andrea!

May 29, 2016 12:25 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


This is such a good post. These are the questions we all get all the time. I read this before but wanted to have another look...I like it even better the second time around


May 29, 2016 01:02 AM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Bless your heart, Jeff Dowler CRS. Thanks so much for your encouragement.

May 29, 2016 01:29 AM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I agree with Jeff, I have read it before and it is better the second time around! Not that it wasn't great the first time...

May 29, 2016 01:45 PM
Chyna Smith
@ Homes Realty Group - Huntsville, AL

Mimi, great explanation of commonly asked questions. It's always nice to have a reminder. 

May 30, 2016 02:51 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

sex offenders -their records stay on forever.  I had a person brag how good her neighborhood is and is completely free of crimes. I got on the internet there was a female sex offender plus two male in the same neighborhood, a car breakin etc.


May 30, 2016 04:08 AM
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Yes, those questions come up all the time, Mimi. And variations thereof, followed by "I won't tell anyone." Sorry, I like my license too much.

May 30, 2016 04:12 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Burlington, MA
Metro Boston Homes For Sale

Re-visiting this post - a great one for sure - Mimi Foster - thanks to Patricia for including in her favorites.

May 30, 2016 04:44 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

As I'm reading this post, I think to myself, "yep, got that one today, yep, that one too..."  It's so funny how our markets can be so different,Mimi Foster, yet so similar!  

And, that last question - don't even get me started!!!  

Hope you're doing well!  I just tripped upon a post and realized that somehow something changed on AR and I was not following you any longer!  That was quickly remedied!!  

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

Sep 02, 2016 02:38 PM
Mimi Foster

Thanks so much, Debe. Hope you're well!

Sep 06, 2016 10:26 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Very good points we can all relate to. I came here by way of a reblog.

Dec 09, 2016 10:41 AM
Krista Jenkins, REALTOR®
klm Real Estate - Lubbock, TX
Residential sales and retail & office leasing

Love, love, love this blog!!! While I cannot blame the clients for asking these questions, we need to be prepared to educate them as to why we cannot answer them.

Mar 25, 2019 08:06 PM
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Company - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

Thanks so much, Krista Jenkins, REALTOR®. And thank you for the follow!  

Mar 26, 2019 07:48 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

A good read a second time and a great reminder for new agents too. Hope you're having a fabulous week, Mimi!

Oct 31, 2019 09:49 PM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

Mimi Foster Thanks for adding your link to this post to Q&A today about questions realtors get asked.  A great post.  Bookmarked.

Nov 01, 2019 02:55 AM