Watch What You Tell Real Estate Clients

Renae Virata | January 13, 2017 | Best Practices

fair housing actAre you familiar with the Fair Housing Act? If you’re a real estate agent, chances are, you know it well – even if you don’t make great strides to follow it.

To refresh your memory: the Fair Housing Act is a federal law, enacted in 1968, that protects against discrimination based on seven specific classes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Handicap
  • Familial Status

In our last post, we touched on these classes as well as additional protected classes by state. Check it out to learn more about what is relevant to your state.

So, why should you, as a real estate agent, care about these laws?

As a real estate agent, you may get bombarded by questions from clients asking for specific listings based on certain criteria. Unfortunately, you can’t disclose anything that could in any way represent any of the protected classes. What you tell real estate clients could get you in trouble.

Yeah, we know. Then how can you truly be helpful to your real estate clients?

For example, if a home buying client asks about crime in a neighborhood, it could be interpreted as alluding to a particular class. (Against the law.) If a client wants to live near a church, then you might be aiding in discrimination based on religion. (Also against the law.) Catering to a selling client’s request can even be unlawful if they specifically reject or request showings for only certain people, whether its age, race or familial status (i.e. no kids).

So, how can you do your best to abide by the law?

Learn how to get seller leads with our home valuation landing pages

You could be breaking the law and don’t even know it. How daunting is that? It may seem like a big challenge, but it is possible with some best practices.

When a client asks for to see homes for any particular reason, it’s always safe to ask them to point out to you what specific zip codes or neighborhoods they want to see. Basically, put the onus on them to do the research. Real estate information today abounds online that anyone can identify a place they’d like to live more specifically.

And if your client just has to know about a neighborhood that you feel will put you in a legal bind, then politely inform them that you cannot divulge that information and point them in the right direction to figure it out for themselves.

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Renae Virata