Christian Real Estate Professionals : Empowering Our Clients To Be A Party To The Homebuying Process

Empowering Our Clients To Be A Party To The Homebuying Process


We MUST Be Our Clients' Advocate--Empower Them with Homework Too!

Give THEM Homework!
A professional young couple with two small children recently moved to Charlotte for a new job and did not know the area at all.  Their relocation company placed them with a real estate agent who found them a cute little house in a neighborhood just outside the city limits.  The reason I am now being consulted, the homeowners have realized that there is fighting in the streets and gunfire in the middle of the night--OFTEN--in their community!  They absolutely detest the neighborhood AND the school that their children are attending and were ready to move after their first two days in their new home.

Sometimes we ask ourselves, "What exactly is fair about the Fair Housing Act?"   The information that these clients needed is NOT something that we are legally allowed to share with our clients!  I know, it IS a shame but, it's a fact of life that we must learn to live with.  However, there are ways to ascertain that our clients are given the best possible information to make an informed decision.

What we ARE allowed to do is share references from which our clients can glean all of the 'touchy' information that they'd like.

These clients used my team to assist them (through a formal client referral from the wife's job at the bank).  After sending them links to do their own research as well as setting them up with a gateway and getting them pre-qualified, we began their home search.

After viewing three homes in GREAT areas, in close proximity to their work, they've selected their dream home and are now proud homeowners in an area that they plan to reside for quite a few years!

Sleeping Soundly

The moral of the story
--the original agent not only forgot to do her homework but, my clients had NO idea that THEY could do a little homework themselves.  They thought that was what they had 'hired' the original agent to do.  She did not pre-qualify them--they just THOUGHT the home that they purchased was all that they could afford because that is what a 'friend' had told them.  

The original relocation agent wound up placing them in a home in an unsafe neighborhood in a school that the children were miserable, just to 'get it done'--not to mention, putting them in harms way in the process.

Because we are unable to discuss matters which our Buyers ask about certain neighborhoods, schools and areas doesn't mean that we can't guide them to do it themselves. Give your clients homework to do and let them feel empowered.  Allow them to feel that they ARE a part of this process.

 Believe me, YOU will sleep better at night





Charlotte Real Estate Team - The Maxwell House Group


  Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

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Charlotte CRS Agent

Debe Maxwell, Realtor®/Broker/CRS

RE/MAX Executive
Direct:  (704) 491-3310


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Comment balloon 95 commentsDebe Maxwell, CRS • June 25 2011 07:32AM


It makes you think how important our jobs are. . affecting people's lives and the quality they seek for.

Another beautiful post Debe. . thank you for sharing it with us.

Of course, I'm suggesting it! 

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 7 years ago

Debe- Love your cartoon!   

It does make you realize how much more your clients can also do to lighten your load in this process.   I always encourage my buyers to learn as much as they can about the area and schools, whether they have children or not, because of the impact that will have on resale.....  then they get into all of the other parts like crime, driving time, etc all by themselves...

Great post!

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Thank you, Fernando!  We do have a HUGE impact on the lives of our clients and SO much of what we do is critical in the decision making process for them...and ultimately a successful outcome.

Dagny:  Thanks!  I do the same; empowering them does also relieve our load a bit but, they gather more information and tend to dig along the lines of what they personally want to know...far more than is required for standard due diligence.

I am off to my grandmother's 100th birthday celebration and thought I'd post before I head out.  I won't be back until late this evening but, I hope a great day is had by ALL!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) over 7 years ago

Debe, I can't even imagine moving in and hearing gunfire in the streets within the first couple of nights!  Congrats on your grandmother's 100th birthday!

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 over 7 years ago

What a nightmare for these poor buyers!  Why on earth did the agent not advise them to do crime research or drive by at night?  I always give my clients resources for researching their possible new neighborhood.  I suggest they talk to the prospective neighbors, meet with the school principal.   You have put this so well! 

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 7 years ago

Good morning Debe,

Wow so true..helping make the buyer a part of the process does empower them. We undoubtedly have a huge impact on the lives of our clients which is why we have to work diligently to help them make the right decision on the home they decide to purchase. In todays on-line world homework is easy! I'm surprised this couple did not make a visit to the school and see for themselves the first time :). Sleeping at night is important!! Congrats on the feature..certainly well deserved!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) over 7 years ago

It is certainly hard for relocation clients (families or singles) to have time to drive the city and "experience" neighborhoods. I do this to as many Buyers as I can.

But, this to me also sounds like a case of an agent not knowing the market place, and probably should of not worked with these clients in the first place. Really, we can only know so much, and to think we can know IT ALL, and then work on behalf of clients is just stupid.

I would refer the business out before I worked with a client and tried to show them homes in an area I am unfamiliar with.

But I guess I just try to do the right thing....imagine that....


Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale ( |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) over 7 years ago

Debe, it is amazing sometimes what realtors assume and do not know how to do or share properly with clients...also as realtors we sometimes assume that buyer/sellers are equipped to do their own research without guidance.  We need to never assume anything unless we are told otherwise by the client, I believe...excellent post!!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 7 years ago

The first question is, by what criteria were these relocating buyers referred to that agent?  The second question is, why were they shown the properties they were shown??? 

The incestuous relationship between relocation entities and the brokers with whom they are connected is not always to a buyer or seller's benefit.  

If relocating home buyers understood that the agent assigned to serve their interest were selected because they were willing to cough up a huge percentage of their commission for the referral, that awareness could cause them to take precautions and research on their own. 


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Sharing resources...links to web sites, law enforcement contacts, sexual offender databases, recommending visits to schools after they "like" an area. You are right on target  BTW, I posted a similar article to my outside blog with a link to you and attribution for inspiring article. Thanks.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 7 years ago

People want to be informed.  They don't care how the information arrives in their head as long as they have the outlets to get it there.  This is particularly important when working with upper end clients.  They just sort of "know" when there should be more to a process.

Posted by Heather Littrell, ABR,GRI,SRES Cabarrus County NC (Keller Williams) over 7 years ago

I tell buyers to walk the neighborhood, talk to folks, get a feel for the area, and call the local police and ask about the crime stats.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, -) over 7 years ago

Cute cartoon. Is it Their stuff always catches my attention in posts.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 7 years ago

So glad this post is featured--super important topic.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Serving San Francisco and the Silicon Valley (Pacific Union International) over 7 years ago

Debe, very good point. The buyers also need to do their homework and a little research. Crime statistics are easily available.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Hi Debe - In many cases, it is a simple exercise to refer clients to sources of the information they require.

Posted by FN LN over 7 years ago

Debe - love how you take a situation that may seem restricting and turn it around for the the buyer's benefit, bookmarked, excellent info! :) (glad you had great seattle raincamp, sorry the flight home was not ideal...)

Posted by Craig Daniels, Technology Instructor/Project Consultant (Tech Training for You!) over 7 years ago

To be associated with a large emotional purchase as found in Real Estate is an honor and a responsbility that when handled correctly lives on in the hearts and minds of all in the deal....Debe...good post and host...

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

What a nightmare for a family thinking that the relocation agent is finding them the right home in an area they really aren't familiar with. Fortunately they found you and were able to move out of that situation quickly. Great post of showing the right  way to handle the situation and giving them the resources for their homework.

Posted by Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS, Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA (Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN) over 7 years ago

You are so right. Clients need to be part of this entire process.

Posted by Ridhi Raheja, FHA, 203k, VA, Jumbo, PreApproval, Jumbo Home Loan (Movement Mortgage (Illinois)) over 7 years ago

Debe, wonderful post with sound advice as usual!  Congrats on another feature it looks like too!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 7 years ago

Debe --- an important topic, well presented(congrats on the feature).   Giving clients "homework" is crucial. Through this collaborative effort, everyone gets the best results.   Knowledge is a very powerful tool.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Debe - There is so much a homework a homebuyer can do, but just like this couple a lot of them don't know what to do or where to start.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) over 7 years ago

"What exactly is fair about the Fair Housing Act?"   The information that these clients needed is NOT something that we are legally allowed to share ..." Don't know that there's anything illegal about sharing school, crime or demographic info. For example, school info is built into many IDX solutions. What's important in these situations is that the agent be "the source of the source" and not inject their personal interpretation or bias into the data.

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) over 7 years ago

Debe - I usually try to get the buyers to spend some time in the neighborhood they like before they make an offer. If you take a few minutes to walk a neighborhood in the evenings, you usually get a chance to talk to some neighbors and get a better feel for the community.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) over 7 years ago

I agree with Lynn. Some, not all, relocation agents are in to do a quick job for their clients because they hardly get paid squat. They have to do more quantity. I also tell buyers to get acquainted with teh neigborhood by visiting it at different times of the day and on the weekend.

We can always be the source of the source. Show them where to look up crime stats, etc.. It is public knowledge.

Posted by Kristi DeFazio, Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468 (RE/MAX Advantage) over 7 years ago


I think part of the agents' responsibility is to give the buyers the right homework to do.  The kind which not gives increased knowledge, but reassures their decision-making... g

Posted by Cherise Selley, Colorado Springs Realtor (Selley Group Real Estate, LLC) over 7 years ago

When our hands are tied giving the buyer the way to look for information on their own is the next best thing.  I know relo clients are pressed for time but I always tell my buyers to drive through a neighborhood at various times of day to get a feel for the area.  I've had more than one come back after selecting what they thought was "the home" and say, no we found out x when we went back at night.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 7 years ago

So glad that you were able to help them.  What I tell my clients when we are in a 'questionable' neighborhood is that I will get them the number of the local police department so that they can check on the crime statistics in that particular neighborhood. 

Posted by Mimi Foster, Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor (FALCON PROPERTY SOLUTIONS ) over 7 years ago

I follow the adage that if I wouldnot put my sister in a neighborhood, I wouldn't put my client there. I always tell them to check crime stats and to visit a neighborhood on different days and at different times of the day.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 7 years ago

If I know that an area is not safe, I show them how to research it. Crime statistics, school scores, Megan's Law....where to find the information, just as you suggest.

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 7 years ago

I agree. Depending on the client, some want to be totally immersed in the homebuying process.

Good stuff, thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) over 7 years ago


This is very interesting and there may very well be a lawsuit in the making here against the first agent.

We don't have a fair housing policy in Ontario that would have similar application.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 7 years ago

One of the problems I have is that some buyers are VERY resistent to doing any "homework."  They just want to see pretty houses.  That is actually one way to protect ourselves against lookie lous.  If they won't do the homework- I won't take them out anymore.  I've had far too many - back out at the 11th hour because they waited that long to do ANY due diligence - even if I had been BEGGING them to do it for weeks.  Here its mostly about the schools not about crime.  Most of the schools many call "unacceptable" are simply diverse - but once people get it into their heads that the schools "aren't good" its over.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) over 7 years ago

When ever people are moving they seem to be the recepients of so much "good information about relocation" issues. Glad your team was able to get them on track and in a better situation.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 7 years ago

Very informational, honest, and accurate.  Thanks for publishing some real help for people rather than just pretending to help to get your commission! 

Posted by Vicki Sullivan (Ramsey Boyd Realty) over 7 years ago

Totally in tune with your thoughts here Debe!  I can't believe that some think that fair housing laws mean not to give them the opportunity to research the areas they will be living.  You definitely had their best interests at heart when 'cleaning up the mess'.

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 7 years ago

Great blog Debe. Some buyers are very naive and just assume their agent will find them a home in a great neighborhood. A little research on their part goes a long way. We've got to give them the tools and let them do the homework.  

Posted by Kim Gero, Associate Broker, REALTOR® (West USA Realty) over 7 years ago


That is why listening to the clients' wants and needs is so important. Then you can send them homes in neighborhood sthat fit their criterias. There is nothing more rewarding than matching your clients with their dream homes...I love this aspect of being a realtor.

Posted by Ann Nguyen, Lake Tahoe Truckee Homes For Sale (eXp Realty) over 7 years ago

Debe -- Just last evening I advised a client that she should drive through neighborhoods she was interested in at different times of the day.  It can be so quiet during daylight hours and then it takes on a different personality in the evening or vice versa.  I advise them to research and point them in the direction of all sites available to do so. A few years back my buyers loved a home but found that a registered sex offender lived diagonally from the property. They bought elsewhere.  Great blog post.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Great post. It is important to let the buyers know where they can find pertinent information, so they can make an informed decision.

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/ over 7 years ago

There are things that have actually been added to the GAR contract about neighborhood "safeness" with a web address.  I ALWAYS enourage my clients to check it out and offer them my computer to do when making the selection of which houses to view.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 7 years ago

A round of applause for you on this post Debe! Our clients DO need to feel empowered and the only way to accomplish that is to give them some homework too. Well done.

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) over 7 years ago

Debe, this is really spot on. Often times I have people ask me about the neighborhoods and what is the crime rate and what are the schools like and who will their children be playing with and so on. I send them to a place on my website that they type in their neighborhood and zip and all the information comes up to them in black and white~I do not have the responsibility to share with them about their "personal" needs to a degree. For families with children I send them to the state site for Child Molesters and ask them to check their neighborhood for any threats. You are so right this is a terrible spot to put us in as sometimes I want to scream "NO!" not that place! Excellent post and I'm glad you are back home safe and sound and I understand the party was great! I'm so sorry I missed your presentation. I'm sure you rocked!

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 7 years ago
It's a fine line.  We are supposed to represted our client's needs, but can't make certain comments.  I agree the correct method is empowering them to do the research.
Posted by Trey Prewitt (TPC Properties) over 7 years ago

OMG.....what a story Debe, thank you for sharing it. I enjoyed the read, as always, I love your posts.

!00 years old, that truly is a milestone.  Enjoy the celebration.



~ Patricia Aulson/  Seacoast NH & ME REALTOR

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 7 years ago

Crime rate, the next door neighbors, the community, the town - did someone recently die in the property and most important the "can you sleep at night" in that neighborhood is important.  Most of this can be checked out by the buyers online --- but it certainly is our responsibility to disclose things that are important to the safe and welfair of the buyers and their family.

This is a great post.


Posted by Rosemary Brooks, The Mother & Daughter Realty Team (BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706) over 7 years ago

Debe, This is a very important subject and you addressed it in a very readable manner!  I agree with Lenn that the relocation company/brokerage relationship needs fixing though I don't know who the police are. 

Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) over 7 years ago
That's a shame. Shame on some of these agents out there...maybe they should look at doing a more thorough job or not be in the business. Thanks for sharing
Posted by Susan Gaieski, Director for Social Media & Technology (Water Pointe Realty Group) over 7 years ago

This was my biggest concern when I first began selling homes, especially working in one of the last 2 "buyer beware" states... I love this post that packages the process perfectly, how to open up to help your Buyers, giveing them homework. Well done!

Posted by Mara Hawks, Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL (First Realty Auburn ) over 7 years ago

Hi Debe -and welcome back!!! :)

You are correct about giving our clients homework, and websites, and statistics from the local schools as well helps them to identify the correct neighborhood for them.


Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) over 7 years ago

Oh, I don't know . . . why couldn't I say "the schools suck" ??  Or "There's gang activity in this area?" 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 7 years ago

Amazing really....but such a great point...when I am asked about schools I just smile and give them numbers....I tell them since I didn't have children I don't have first hand knowlege and that they know their children's needs better than anyone so better for them to call! 

Posted by Deborah Byron Leffler BzyBee Real Estate Lady! (Keller Williams Realty Boise) over 7 years ago

Debe - I always sleep good at night because I make my clients to  their homework.  

Posted by Petra Norris, Realtor, Lakeland FL Homes for Sale (Lakeland Real Estate Group, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Debe - I had a very awkward conversation with a client once who demanded that I give her my opinion.  This was during our first phone call.  Of course, I couldn't answer her questions, and the more I tried to explain to her that I couldn't and try to direct her to places to get her information for herself, she became indignant and finally yelled, "You obviously don't want to work with me," and hung up on me.  I actually felt bad for her.  I could tell she genuinely wanted information, and I seriously doubt she would have found the answers to her questions on any website.  I've often wondered about her and whether or not another agent DID answer her questions.  I wonder where she ended up.

Posted by Lina Robertson, REALTOR® Serving Springfield, Nixa and Ozark, MO (RE/MAX Solutions and RE/MAX House of Brokers) over 7 years ago
Hi Debe, This is indeed great homework for the buyers. You are so correct when speaking of Fair Housing laws. We do have to watch what we say. I always ask my buyers to drive by the house they want to put an offer on, at different times of the day and evening. Even if it's in a terrific neighborhood!
Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) over 7 years ago
Hi Debe, This is indeed great homework for the buyers. You are so correct when speaking of Fair Housing laws. We do have to watch what we say. I always ask my buyers to drive by the house they want to put an offer on, at different times of the day and evening. Even if it's in a terrific neighborhood!
Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) over 7 years ago

I cannot IMAGINE moving into a new neighborhood and knowing in TWO DAYS that you need to get the h**l outta there to save your skin!  How terrifying! What in the WORLD was that other agent thinking??  So glad they found you and it was a positive conclusion. But, putting people through that is unforgivable, and one of the reasons our image continues to be tarnished.


Well done, well said.

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 7 years ago

In this day and age, it's SO EASY for a buyer to do their own homework, it's all posted on line! However, buyers are still relying on us for everything!

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) over 7 years ago

I always empower clients to do the due diligience they need to peform prior to purchasing a home.  I explain what I can and cannot do, but that I can provide websites and tell them where to find information.  I am glad these folks ended up in a home and community they love.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 7 years ago

Debe, there are so many way people can get information about the stuff we can't talk about.  And you're right.  They need to do their own homework.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I totally agree. We've always done a lot of homework when moving, but I don't think everyone thinks of that. So it's up to an agent to suggest it. Neighborhoods and areas of towns are subjective... just because an agent likes or doesn't like it, doesn't mean the buyers will agree.


Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Debe, that is so upsetting when an agent discredits our entire profession by their unprofessional behavior. Most definitely we can and need to empower our buyers to do the research we can't disclose. But did the agent show them many different areas? I'll bet not. Sad, but thankfully they found your company!


Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) over 7 years ago

Debe they HAVE TO be proactive in the process whether they are local or relocation.  I can imagine the horror of the buyers upon hearing gunfire and taking their kids to a school where they'd be miserable.  So are you listing the house for sale that they originally purchased?

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

Bad other agent. Bad bad. Gunfire in the streets... turn the TV off and open the curtains for local reality drama. Here come the police...Abner, did you see what that man did to that other gang member?

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 7 years ago

Debe, this can also be a direct result of how large relocation companies with huge referral fees as well as the occasional kickback to the buyer will end up with less than the most stellar agents willing to work hard for low, low fees.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 7 years ago

Extremely well put Big Sis ! It can be a tricky approach for many agents, but you outline exactly how it can be done, and why we can be SO critical to our clients ! Bravo :o)


Posted by Sheldon Neal, That British Agent Bergen County NJ (Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) over 7 years ago

Debe excellent post, although we cannot steer clients to a particular area we can give them crime websites or school board website information to check on their own.  Our Louisiana contract even has sex offender website link where they can check.  I work with a lot of relocation clients and show them ALL neighborhoods when they begin to ask questions I tell them to visit the City websites for the demographics.  Sad to hear that this agent got a commission that was not really earned

Posted by Marilyn Boudreaux, Lake Charles LA Century 21 Realtor (Marilyn Boudreaux, Century 21 Mike D. Bono & Co.'s) over 7 years ago

Hi Deb-I always tell my clients to drive by the neighborhoods that they like during the day time and the night time just to get a feel for the area.  I also send them links to schools and areas so they can research on their own.  You are correct, a lot of research they can do on their own :)!

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 7 years ago

When I send out emailed listings it includes links to local resources.  Also, I always encourage my clients to check out the area at different times of the day.   It is their home so it is important they get involved.

Posted by Cindy Abel, Broker/Owner - Las Vegas Homes and Real Estate (Southern Nevada Realty, LLC) over 7 years ago

Tough situation but I think you are right that the buyers need to do their homework also. Especially the school aspect. Kids education is most important. We relocated 11 years ago. The top of the criteria was the school district. We did our homeword. Come check out Destin. Terrific schools, Daughter got a scholarship to Auburn. The beaches are pretty good also...

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 7 years ago

I'm pretty sure that bad schools and criminals are not a protected class and it is not a violation of Fair Housing to discuss that with them.  And it is very easy to direct them to local sites to get all those statistics.  Any good agent should at least be able to figure that out.  Congrats on getting them what they needed in the end.

Posted by Pam Ruckriegel, Negotiating the Best Deal for You! (Louisville Real Estate Pros - 502-435-5524) over 7 years ago

One of the reasons I like living in such a small town.  When you move here all the kids go to the same schools (we only have 5.)  If you have a child in 3rd grade, that child will go to the same school as every other child in Mineral Wells that is in 3rd grade.  All the kids go to the same high school.  Our crime rate is low and it takes about 10 minutes to get just about anywhere you need to get to in town (shopping, etc.)   I grew up in Fairfax, VA, so I definitely understand about knowing and checking out your facts beforehand.   We don't get many relocations, but when we do and they have questions, I give them links to learn about our city, town, county. 

Posted by Carolyn Shipp, Mineral Wells Texas Real Estate (Source 1 Real Estate) over 7 years ago

It's strange how many buyers resist doing the "homework."  People want someone else to do it for them...but boy of boy, when things don't turn out they are quick to play the blame card.  Maybe the homework should be a contract form requesting signatures that it was completed...and spaces for buyer to fill in the information they learned.  LOL!

Posted by Jayne Clement, Los Angeles Short Sale Agents (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

Overwhelmed once again with all of these wonderful comments!  Thank you so much!

I agree that many buyers do resist doing their homework and the way that I generally get them to do it is by explaining the Fair Housing Act to them.  Giving them sites to do their own research and yes, sending them out into the community at various times of the day and days of the week does help tremendously.  I also encourage them to walk the neighborhoods and talk with the residents there.  They're always surprised how much information that they glean with that practice--and if it's the community that they choose, they already have a new friend there when they do move in!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) about 7 years ago


An excellent read, adnt hank you for making the issue of Fair Housing and what we can or cannot say and do more clear. Not only can buyers do this, they SHOULD.

There are too many issues that are quite personal - crime, schools, noise, amenities, commuting distance - and they need to satisfy themselves and not rely on someone who may not know or cannot view things from their perspective. There is a wealth of information at buyers' disposal these days, and we have an obligation to be informed as to where buyers can go to get the information they need.

And we can learn a few things from buyers who are doing this research themselves. I have picked up numerous helpful websites from buyers in the know,


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) about 7 years ago

Debe:  Great post and congrats on a happy ending with your clients.  Telling buyers to consult the neighbors, websites, call the schools will help.  Good for you and best of luck@

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 7 years ago

That is one of the dangers of working with an out of town agent. I need to know the area to help my clients make the right choice for themself.

Posted by Alan Grizzle, Full Time Realtor, Lifelong Resident of Dahlonega (Chestatee Real Estate) about 7 years ago


At least that sad story had a positive ending. It is unfortunate that most buyers think you should be advising them on all the things that Fair Housing says you can't. Many buyers only have a couple of weekends to visit Charlotte and make a decision on a house before moving. That can be very difficult when they know nothing about the area. I don't know how that other real estate agent sleeps at night!

Posted by Mary Schurr, Realtor - Charlotte NC (Mary Schurr Realty) about 7 years ago


Thanks for the 'tip'. None of us wants to feel thatwe're being led about. It leaves us feeling vulnerable. Empowering others is a sign of personal maturity and also lays the foundation for a long-term relationship. I'm sure your clients are singing your praises today!


Posted by David Nicholson, Work Together... Achieve Together! (Coldwell Banker Select) about 7 years ago

I hated homework as a kid, but it is like veggies good for you!

Posted by David Evans, HUD NLB Cumming GA (RE/MAX TOWN AND COUNTRY) about 7 years ago

Buyers need to do some of their own research as you stated in your post Debe.  I pass along useful links to them like crime stats, school stats, etc... Buyers really appreciate being given the resources to find the information they need.

Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE) about 7 years ago
Many buyers are not aware Relocation Companies receive a heafty part of an agents commission when they refer a client to an out-of-area agent. Successful agents who have a good amount of business, don't always sign up with Relocation companies because of that. However, newer agents, anxious to jump-start their real estate career, will often sign up with these companies. Unfortunately, the buyer assumes the agent they are referred to is experienced and will have their best interest at heart. This isn't always the case.
Posted by Nancy Hankin (RE/MAX Real Estate Consultants) about 7 years ago

I always suggest to clients to check out the neighborhood during other times than when I am showing them and to be by themselves at different hours of the day and different days.  When there is only a short time available, I tell them to visit neighbors to just get an idea for themselves to see how they might get along, of course it is no guarantee that the same neighbors will still be there, but at least I implore them to check things out directly close to the property in question and in the general area. And of course if they are interested in schools, I ask them to visit the respective schools and talk to staff.

Posted by clara Hahn (AgentOwned Realty) about 7 years ago

Debe this is great advice. As demonstrated in this case, the family found out in short order that the neighborhood was not conducive; had they been part of the process, e.g. had the opportunity to make some inquiries on their own - observe the activities of the neighborhood and the schools perhaps over a period of a few days or weeks before having to be relocated there, this experience could have been avoided.  All in all, it really demonstrates how important it is that we become familiar with the communities we represent and to that extent, we should take responsibility for where we put our clients; after all, they are a reflection of who we are as professionals and how well we survive in the industry.  Thanks for sharing this post.  

Posted by Ruby Lee Sweeting, Your Bahamas Agent for Relocations & Second Homes (Darville Wong Associates Realty Bahamas) about 7 years ago

Great post! The law prevents us from giving our opinion so that the client is responsible to discover some of the information for themselves. We can give them references or resources to help them but can not tell them someone died in the house or there are shot outs in the street at night so that we are not steering people away from the neighborhood or not fully representing the seller properly.

Posted by Gerard Gilbers, Your Marketing Master (Higher Authority Markeing) about 7 years ago

Fair Housing can be tricky when you are working with people that don't know your area! The way a neighborhood looks during the day can be way different then the night too. All you can do is give people the tools and insist that they check into things on their own. 

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) about 7 years ago

So many laws that are supposed to protect people actually do them harm. Fair Housing is, I think, one of them.

I agree that an agent shouldn't make the decision to "steer" someone to or away from one neighborhood or another.

But I believe it's wrong that a buyer can't ask an agent to only show them homes in a neighborhood with young children (or not), or near a specific church, or in a highly rated school district.

Posted by Marte Cliff, your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) about 7 years ago

Hello from Ontario. Great post. Empowering both Buyers and Sellers with homework and working together instead of one leading the other  around by the ear is, I think, provides to the client a feeling of satisfaction that they have been an integral part of the whlole process. Great post!


Posted by Sheridan(Sherry)Rondeau about 7 years ago

When the truth is against the law we all have problems.

I enjoyed your post.  Where do you get your cartoons?

Kathy Godin
Alleid Home Mortgage Corp.
Raleigh, NC

Posted by Kathy Godin about 7 years ago

Shame on the other agent.  I treat every buyer/seller as I would expect to be treated were the roles reversed.  You are doing things right.

Posted by Caryn Baker (Realty Pros & Assoc.) about 7 years ago


Thanks for posting this.  The bulk of my business is relocation clients, so I deal with this on a weekly basis.  Occasionally I have a client that has a specific geographic request, and a very low maximum price range.  For these clients, options can be limited.  That said, in my market area, bad neighborhoods are no respecter of race or ethnicity.

I do not break any Fair Housing laws, nor do I practice steering.  But I can talk all day long about school district quality, property value stability, percentage of homeowners to renters, crime stats, etc., without talking race or ethnicity. 

I generally ask my relocation clients what factors are important to them, and then find the neighborhood that closest meets those needs.  I generally lean towards the neighborhoods that I feel will have the strongest potential for appreciation.  Usually quality neighborhoods and strong property values go hand in hand.


Posted by Don Corson (Coldwell Banker King Thompson) about 7 years ago

I'm wondering what information you think you were prevented from sharing due to Fair Housing.  You cannot provide racial profiling.  Sadly they may have been profiled into a neighborhood.  But you can provide resources on crime statistics, income levels, refer them to web sites that rank schools (although those rankings are not always good indicators). 

I really do not care what color my neighbors are.  I do care about crime, the condition of the neighborhood, and schools.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 7 years ago

Deb, thanks for the great post. Good reminders to make sure we have the clients involved. Most that I work will do go through the neighbor at different hours to see what its like as well as their commute. Its sad the other agent did the generic run through with them although now they have had the opportunity to see how a good agent works.

Posted by Robby Leviton, Knowles Team (Keller Williams Realty) about 7 years ago

I too tell them to ride through at different times of day to see what's going on and suggest they check with police dept., etc. 

Posted by Marsha Cash (RE/MAX Advantage) about 7 years ago