Video Transcript: Realtor Disclosures

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Stacey: Ever wonder why real estate agents don't answer all your questions? It turns out that federal and state laws limit what they can say. What questions can't a real estate broker answer? Let's find out on "What Works Now."

Voice Over: AOL and Bank of America Home Loans – helping you find out what works now.

Stacey: A good real estate agent is very familiar with the area where he shows properties. But what you may not know is that he can't legally share all that information with you.

Narrator: Through the Fair Housing Act, the government makes sure that a home purchase decision is based on a property's fair market value, and not on factors such as race, religion or ethnicity. To get a better idea of what information an agent can and cannot share, we decide to check in with a real estate broker.

[Enter Scott Klein, real estate broker]

Scott: The Fair Housing Act is federal legislation which protects prospective buyers from discrimination.

Stacey: OK, let's talk about some of the things we can't discuss. I'm guessing it's wrong to ask if a certain neighborhood is upscale or what class of people live there.

Scott: That's correct. A realtor cannot discuss, for example, race, ethnicity, economic class – those characteristics of a neighborhood. If a prospective buyer would like that information, there are ways for he or she to obtain them.

Stacey: So, if a family moves into a certain area, can they ask you about school districts?

Scott: They cannot ask me specifically about a school district, because it might be perceived as steering someone into a certain neighborhood. However, as a realtor, I can direct them to sources of information about education in that area.

Narrator: Buyers can find statistics about school districts online. You can go to sites like schoolmatters.com or greatschools.org.

Stacey: What if a buyer wants to know if there's a religious community he can join? Can he ask you about that?

Scott: Again, as a realtor, it's not appropriate for me to describe anything about the religious nature of that neighborhood. It might be perceived as steering. However, I can provide addresses of houses of worship, and the buyer can determine where he or she feels most comfortable.

Stacey: Surely a buyer can ask about crime statistics, right? That's public information.

Scott: As a realtor, I can direct them to where the local police precinct is, or certain sites on the internet. What I tell a perspective buyer is to familiarize themselves with a neighborhood. Walk around at different times in the day. See how comfortable you feel. Everyone is different.

Narrator: Homebuyers can also look for crime statistics online, including where sex offenders live, by logging on to familywatchdog.us.

Stacey: What about any environmental concerns in the area. Again, a buyer would want to know about that.

Scott: Yes, and as a real estate agent, I can direct the perspective buyer to certain website where they can get that information. If it pertains to the particular property and it's something I have knowledge of, I am required to disclose that.

Stacey: So there you have it – a full list of topics that you should research on your own. But a broker can still show you homes, so let's go tour some properties.

Voice Over: For more great videos, log on to realestate.aol.com.
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