Fair Housing Act: Why Realtors Are Not Allowed to Discuss Schools, Safety, and Religion

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchase of their life for many people. People want to have a home where they can start and raise a family. It is common for buyers to want to know about the safety and schools. Unfortunately, Realtors cannot discuss those factors and/or religious institutions with buyers.

Realtors cannot discuss safety for two reasons, one of which is liability. If a Realtor says this neighborhood is safe and something happens after you move in, the real estate broker could be in trouble. The second reason is it violates the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, religion, color, familial status, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.

Fair Housing - Buy Property You Want Where you WantFor many buyers, safety is an important factor along with being in a good school district or being close to a religious institution. Saying a particular neighborhood is safe, how great the schools are, or a wonderful church is nearby could be considered steering. Steering can be done in one of two ways. One is only showing a homebuyer houses in a particular area based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, familial status, or sexual orientation. The other is refusing or failing to show homes fitting the buyer’s criteria on the basis of their race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status.

Everyone has the right to buy property in any area they chose to live. Being able to afford the property they want in said area is a different story but affordability and availability should be the only factors that keep anyone from renting a property or buying a property where the buyer wants to live. However, a few types of housing are exempt from the Fair Housing Laws. For example, owner occupied homes with no more than 4 units and single family homes sold or rented without the use of a Realtor. Also, housing operated by and used exclusively for organizations that limit occupancy to members only.

As Realtors, we do not want to hide any information, and we are happy to give the facts when we can. We cannot speak about safety, schools, crime, or religious institutions, but we can direct you to those who can such as Picket Report or an officer at the nearest police station.

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