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Things real estate agents won't tell you: 4 questions often left unanswered

Questions real estate agents can’t or won’t answer

Key takeaways:

  • Agents may not always provide you with the full picture, so it's best to do your own research on things like neighborhood schools, crime rates and demographics
  • You can do a lot more than you think online, including making your own offers

Real estate agents—they're supposed to be your right-hand advisors throughout the buying process. However, under certain conditions, they may not be able to give you complete answers to all of your pressing questions. For this reason, never rely solely on what an agent tells you. Do your own research and verify anything you're unsure of—or it could cost you!

Question #1: Would you recommend raising a family here?

Why your agent may not answer this fully:

If they say that it's a good place to raise a family, they could be implying that people without children aren't welcome. If they answer that the home and area is best for couples without children, they could dissuade buyers without families.

What you need to do:

Do your own research on the community, as well as on the quality of the school districts. Sites like Trulia are great for the first topic, and both SchoolDigger and GreatSchools.org can help with the latter. Your agent isn't going to be of much use helping you decide if you should raise your family in a specific area, so it's best to use your own discretion. Talk to the neighbors and knowledgeable friends if possible, too!

Question #2: What's the neighborhood like?

Why your agent may not answer this fully:

While in reality the neighborhood you're considering may be filled with diverse cultures or have a majority of a certain race, your agent won't ever say anything of the sort to you. Any comment could be considered “redlining” on their part, which refers to a form of discrimination in which buyers are steered toward or away from neighborhoods based on their ethnicities. Also, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, sex, race or economic status, which limits agents on their answers.

What you need to do:

Again, you should know about just how much you can get done by yourself. If you're curious about the demographics of the neighborhood, searching on the US Census Bureau's site can help and will yield information that's more concrete than the opinion of one agent.

Question #3: How safe is this area?

Why your agent may not answer this fully:

This one's a real minefield for agents. For example, if there's a history of gang violence in the region, the agent may not disclose this in fear of being labeled a classist or racist.

What you need to do:

Obtaining accurate information regarding crime rates in a neighborhood is easier than you think. MyLocalCrime can help you track recent incidents in your area. Trulia can help with this too.

Question #4: Do I really need a buyer's agent?

Why your agent may not answer this fully:

Well, it's kind of obvious.

What you need to do:

Turns out there are ways to do everything an agent does for you by yourself. So, why still pay a buyer's agent tens of thousands of dollars when you could just represent yourself and save big? Now, Home Savi lets you do just that.

Home Savi replaces the need for a buyer’s agent by giving you the online tools and knowledge to offer, close and save on your home purchase.

Home Savi offers are:

  • Legally binding and secure
  • Modifiable in nearly every way
  • Convenient and easy for both buyers and listing agents
  • Not very different from traditional offers, except that you can proactively manage your transaction online and you get to save the commission that would otherwise go to your buyer's agent

On a $750,000 home, Home Savi can save you over $18,000! You can use those savings to pay off closing costs, remodel your kitchen or even take a vacation (or two!).

Think the seller pays for your buyer's agent? Think again.

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