In the real estate business there are multiple steps, procedures and processes real estate agents take to reduce exposure to risk. The party being protected depends on the situation but it is always to protect the public (buyers, sellers) and, of course, themselves.
One of the easiest ways is to minimize being the source of all answers and practicing being the source of the source rather than the primary source.... i.e. telling the buyer where they can find the answer.
I caution prospective buyers to not assume their agent does not know the answer but rather the agent pointing you in the right direction to the answer.
I remember years ago I was showing a prospective buyer a beautiful condo on Cocoa Beach. The lot to the side was vacant. This particular unit had a side view toward the ocean. The prospective buyer asked me about the lot remaining vacant. My response was "I don't know."
The reality (or common sense) is prime oceanfront lots are likely a target for future development. Either way I recommended the buyer consider the view likely temporary or assume the risk.
Another area of concern to many buyers is sexual predators ("Do any sexual predators live nearby?") Read more about Florida Sexual Offender Database here.
An area that can get an agent in some real trouble - even inadvertently - is the Fair Housing Act. The housing act exists to promote and hopefully, guarantee, equal housing opportunity and non-discrimination.
Questions relating to the character and demographic characteristics of an area is not something an agent should speak of - ever.
While a buyer prospect's questions may not be intended to denigrate any person, creed, religion or whatever, the answer can still be seen as a violation.
Responses to these types of questions are answered by relying on the "source of the source" answer.
This may entail referring a prospective buyer to the local law enforcement agency (What is crime rate?) or to the school board (How are the schools?). Sometimes buyer prospects need to be encourage to drive around the neighborhood themselves or go for a walk or whatever (are there any kids? How old are the people who live around here?)
Another are that many agents (myself included) shy away from are questions specifically relating to the homeowner or condo association. The correct response is to provide a way for access to the documents or even contact information for the association officers.
I recall an agent I know was recently asked whether a fence could be put up. She referred the buyer to the association. Not only does a response like this mitigate risk exposure it, more importantly, allows a prospective buyer to access the best available answer.
And sometimes the answers to the questions, while potentially useful, are not known or can't be disclosed such as
- "Are the neighbors nice?"
- "Why are they selling?"
- "How much do they owe?"
- "How much will they take?"
- "What are the other offer prices?"
So when you decide to buy a home in Melbourne, Florida, remember that your agent may not answer all your questions on the spot. It is not because they do not know (sometimes we don't!). Rather the non-answer is to protect the buyer by allowing the buyer to get the right answer from the right source.
Ready to buy a home in Melbourne, Florida? Please call or text me at 321-693-3850 if I can help in any way.