Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Neighborhood 'steering' is not OK

Here are many types of Real Estate Steering:

1) When your agent tells you a house is overpriced. An agent is not an appraiser.

 2) When your agent tells you they do not have any info on a house that is for sale by owner, because there is no commission.

 3) When the agent is unaware on how to explain a green home, so they do not show it, so not to look clueless.

 4) When your buyer's agent only shows you homes with 3% commission and with a kickback bonus.
5) When your buyer's agent only shows you homes from their brokerage office only or their own listing first.

6) Local Realtors Steering new buyers to new homes being built on small lots. This was recently stated to us by a new home buyer. (So new home buyer's BEWARE of local agents showing new homes on small lots.

Q: How should a person handle it when a Realtor steers them to a particular neighborhood? (This happened to someone I know.) He wanted to see all of Las Vegas, was prequalified for $200,000 but the Realtor would only show him (homes in) Summerlin? -- Debbie H., Las Vegas

A: First of all, let me just say that what you're describing, if proven to be true, is not acceptable behavior for any real estate agent in Nevada or anywhere else. Such "steering" is a violation of federal fair housing law, which is investigated and regulated by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development.

Since they receive training in this area and deal with fair housing issues in their profession, Realtors really should know better.

A violation of fair housing standards can also be a violation of state law -- not to mention violation of the code of ethics all Realtors swear to uphold. Consequently, if a member of the public has such a complaint, he or she should report it to the three entities that oversee real estate transactions. They include Housing and Urban Development, the state of Nevada's Real Estate Division and the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Besides being unethical, illegally steering a potential homebuyer to one home, one neighborhood or one particular home builder is also bad for business. Worse yet, it reflects poorly on the overwhelming majority of Realtors who follow the rules and live up to the highest ethical standards in our profession.

That being said, if you feel the agent was purposely not showing you other parts of the city or other properties you wanted to visit, then I suggest you bring it to the agent's attention.

Not being able to speak to the agent to determine his or her motives, there could be several reasons for an agent to focus on one area. Having worked in this industry for the past two decades, I can envision a scenario where a client seeks out a Realtor who is the "neighborhood expert."

As such, the client could expect, ask or even demand that the Realtor show them what they believe to be the best neighborhood in town for that particular buyer. If, however, you do speak to your Realtor about your concerns and he or she is still uncooperative, you should report the situation so it can be investigated fully. These things can be very subjective. It can sometimes be a fine line between "steering" and giving clients what they want. In the end, that's why it's so important for Realtors to continue their education and training. They must meet their fiduciary responsibility to all parties, while satisfying their legal and ethical responsibilities.

For more information on such issues, consult a qualified local Realtor or visit LasVegasRealtor.com.

Rick Shelton is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for 20 years. GLVAR has 12,500 members. To ask him a question, e-mail him at ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com. Questions may be edited for space and clarity.

Published by a local Licensed Real Estate Agent in Thomasville, GA