Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you and your family will ever make and you probably have many questions for your realtor. Choosing the right realtor to assist you is a close second, because your realtor’s guidance can help you make the best decisions for your family – and your wallet! Realtors are the pinnacle of the homebuying process for military families, especially when they may only be at a station for a short period, or they are choosing to retire in a certain area.
While realtors can help answer a wide range of questions pertaining to the homebuying experience, there are some questions that realtors generally do not answer because their expertise in that area may be limited. We asked Kasey Smith, a realtor and military spouse in Georgia, five questions that realtors generally do not answer for their clients:
- Realtors cannot tell you what the best school zones are. While realtors can gauge what school zones are generally sought after by clients, they cannot give specific information on schools, such as ratings, demographics, population, etc. “As a general rule, I may be able to give the client an overall statement of ‘we are ranked very high in our county for schools,’ but when it comes to official rankings, I won’t tell a client which schools are ranked the highest,” Smith said. “That’s because different families will have different experiences, and this information changes all the time. If we are being honest, I am not keeping track of that, because the Board of Education keeps track of that.” Smith also said that most realtors can direct their clients to specific resources to help them track down this information on their own. “Your local Board of Education has made all of the information regarding local schools public, and it’s usually located on their website,” she said.
- Realtors cannot tell you what the crime rate in a neighborhood is. Crime rates vary and change on a daily basis, and a realtor likely won’t have the most up-to-date information regarding the area. “Like school zones, crimes rates change all the time. I don’t always have the most up-to-date information on crimes that may have happened recently. A lot of time may have passed between the last time I checked and now,” Smith said. “I usually refer my clients to look at a local police report, and/or check with your local police department about local crime in the area.”
- Realtors don’t know the condition of a home’s foundation. The condition of a home’s foundation is absolutely essential in making the decision whether to buy it. However, a realtor won’t know much about it if asked. “Realtors are no foundation experts – so I would not tell someone whether or not the home has a foundation issue because that exceeds my expertise,” she said. “If they [my clients] are going to question whether there is a foundation issue, I will either refer them to a foundation expert, or tell them to have an inspection done.” Smith also expressed that she recommends an inspection be done prior to buying a home regardless of whether or not the client thinks there may be a certain issue with the home.
- Realtors legally cannot disclose the demographics of a neighborhood. There are some cases in which legalities will keep your realtor from disclosing certain things about a neighborhood. One of those is neighborhood demographics. “I cannot answer anything about neighborhood demographics because it’s a Fair Housing violation,” Smith said. “Demographics include race, religion, and other questions about who may live in the neighborhood. As much as a client may ask me that, I have no legal authority to answer.”
- Realtors cannot reveal confidential information about the other party, whether buyer or seller. No matter how curious a client may be about the other party involved in the buying/selling process, there are certain questions a realtor cannot legally answer. One of those questions is how much the seller might owe on a home, for example. “If I represented a seller, and they don’t give me the right to tell the buyer how much they owe on a home, then I can’t tell the buyer.” Smith said. “I also cannot disclose anything my client tells me in confidence, or if there are other offers on the table (unless the seller tells me I can).”
While your realtor may not be able to answer some questions, there are many more they can answer about the homebuying process! To get connected with one of our expert realtors ready to help you PCS better, click here!
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