Fair Housing Act Case Study

avatarthumbnail.jpgI’ve finally come up with a solution for buyers who are insistent on having me recommend areas in defiance of the Fair Housing Act … send them to Trulia Voices, where the law is trampled upon with impunity.

There were a couple of examples sitting in the Google Reader but we’re going to go with this one:

My family will be moving to AZ. What are good areas?

What’s fun is some agents will jump right in and start making suggestions even though they have nothing objective to go on. But here, the prospective buyer gives a little bit more rope for everyone to use …

I currently work for T-Mobile (corporate). We have 2 children (9 & 5). I noticed that there are lots of corporate stores in Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. Financing will not be a problem, Are concerns are location, schools and travel time for me getting to work and school for my husband. I would like to transfer to a high volume area with good demographics. And the school my husband wants to attend is in Scottsdale,AZ.. What areas do you suggest?

So let’s see … the only cities mentioned are Phoenix, Tucson (which we’re going to eliminate since it’s 120 miles away), Mesa and Scottsdale. Let the fun begin.

If your job takes you to the Phoenix area, you should give Scottsdale a serious look. I recently moved here with my wife and 2-yr-old daughter. We love it, and feel very comfortable here.

That’s tremendous information, Mr. Agent. Quick question, though. Why is it that you believe this buyer will be comfortable in Scottsdale just because you are? Do you have any information other than the mention of the school that leads you to that conclusion? What assumptions are we making to decide this buyer should give Scottsdale more serious consideration than anywhere else?

Moral: It doesn’t matter whether you’re comfortable or uncomfortable, happy living there or happy not be living there. You are not the buyer and putting yourself in their shoes involves making a series of assumptions you can’t legally make.

Scrolling down …

Walkscore is a great tool to use to see what’s near where you are going to live like the grocery store, gas station and so on.

I’m in the minority but I’m not a big fan of Walkscore as it pertains to Phoenix. I mean, when it’s 114 degrees outside, where the hell are you walking unless you’re a scorpion?

Not an illegal statement, incidentally … but I couldn’t resist.

I am also including a link to Desert Ridge which is North of the 101 freeway and close to everything you’ll need without paying Scottsdale inflated values for a home.

Really? Everything the buyer will need? How exactly do you know that, Mr. Agent? I’m not seeing anything in the buyer’s request that indicates the full gamut of what she needs. I agree about Desert Ridge to some degree (it’s not Scottsdale but it ain’t cheap) but lacking more complete information from the buyer, this seems to dance on the edge.

Now let’s go right over that edge …

 I am big Fan of Gilbert AZ. Great community & schools.

Great community? How? Based on what? If I live for the NFL, is a city almost an hour away from the stadium really great for me? Just sayin … (And yes, Patrick and I have had this argument in the past and we agree to disagree – not about Gilbert, but about what you can say to a buyer just starting to look.

However Tempe maybe a better central location for you and your Family. Now if you choose Tempe, you must look at the Lakes community.

The Lakes offer an 80 acre lake for boating, 3 schools ( Elementary, Jr High, & High School ) within a mile of the community, full clubhouse. The HOA fees are only $70. per month that includes everything. In my opinion the Lakes HOA board is one of the top ten best run, most to offer in the country…yes country.

Why must this buyer look at the Lakes? We don’t know anything – ANYTHING – that justifies blatantly steering someone toward a specific subdivision in a specific city. Just because you like the Lakes (and I grew up with some Lakes envy myself while living on the Dobson Ranch) doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for everyone. As real estate professionals, we cannot legally make these assumptions.

You mentioned that Mesa is one of the locations that has a lot of corporate locations for you…there are some nice communities in NE Mesa that would offer great schools, and easy freeway access along the 202 for your husband to head into Scottsdale.

Here’s a fun fact … the Mesa Unified School District includes not only northeast Mesa but the entire city. And at the risk of being accused of harboring lingering resentment toward Mountain Pee-you View, there are great schools in many parts of the city. There also is good freeway access from Loop 101 and US 60 on the south and west sides of Mesa.

And so the question becomes … why northeast Mesa and not another section? What has led you to steer this client to a particular portion of an extremely large city? Better have some objective reason for doing so …

Lastly …

We can not tell you what area is best, but we can provide you with enough resources for you to make an informed decision. There are many areas in and around Scottsdale the will meet your needs, it will all depend on how long of a commute you are willing to have and other criteria. Scottsdale, Tempe and some sections of Phoenix seem to be a good match for you.

Guess what? Carlos has it right … I might not have used the word seem. “May” might have been a better choice. But he doesn’t limit the focus of the answer toward a certain part of Scottsdale, he doesn’t suggest specific neighborhoods lacking direction from the client (and therefore won’t have to explain why he didn’t suggest the homes a block over from the suggested area) and he doesn’t make any assumptions about the buyer.

And the sad part is, his answer likely will be viewed as being unhelpful all because it happened to be legal. Ironic, isn’t it?

One last one that I can’t resist …

Remember also that the searches on the Internet don’t always have the most current up to date information particularly for bank owned properties, so always use a Realtor to find those for you 1st where ever possible.

Shameless plug: The search on my Phoenix bank owned homes site updates throughout the day and will have about as good of information as any of us have. Hard to get more complete info when bank owned listing agents have made the decision en masse not to answer their phones.

Happy hunting, folks.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.