Fair housing laws: fair, but confusing

Realtor Notebook

This time of year I encounter buyers who are relocating, and first-time homebuyers. Buyers often have questions about neighborhoods, and they expect answers. But I cannot legally answer some of their questions because of our fair housing laws.

Buyers tell me that they want an affordable home in a decent neighborhood, or they ask me if a particular neighborhood is good or bad. This is the type of information the buyers really want, and sometimes expect Realtors to supply. We cannot say that a neighborhood is good or bad, and even if we could our answers would be subjective.

Homebuyers get frustrated with me. They feel as though I am not helping them because they know that I know the city very well and that I know each neighborhood in the city, but I refuse to answer the "good neighborhood/bad neighborhood" question.

They want what they think is some kind of an inside scoop. There isn’t any inside scoop and there isn’t an answer to the good neighborhood/bad neighborhood question.