Things Your Realtor Can’t Tell You

Date: January 23, 2019



It’s important to find a West Chester or Liberty Township real estate agent that you trust – but did you know, no matter how trustworthy your Realtor is, there are some things he just can’t tell you?


Many people don’t realize that there are specific rules that guide real estate professionals. And with good reason: for many years (especially in the 1950s and 1960s), real estate agents used to steer people to buy in certain neighborhoods that helped keep areas ethnically segregated.


Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then! New rules have been put in place to prevent that from happening, and as a result, there are some things that your West Chester or Liberty Township Realtor just can’t tell you.


Here are a few of the things your Realtor can’t tell you.


The “Standard” Real Estate Commission


While the industry has standards, those standards are really a range. For instance, most sellers pay anywhere from four to six percent of the purchase price to the agents helping to procure a buyer for their West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. This commission is generally split among agents – buyer’s and seller’s.


But beyond that generally accepted range, there’s no “standard” real estate commission. Each deal is negotiated separately, and different agents may charge a different commission based on their office’s policies. There’s no “standard” commission because this would be considered a type of price fixing that would be in violation of antitrust laws.


Which Home Inspector or Lender to Use


By law, your real estate agent cannot recommend a specific home inspector or lender for you to use when purchasing a West Chester or Liberty Township home for sale. This makes a lot of sense. For instance, if a Realtor were to use the same home inspector every time, the home inspector may be incentivized to write a glowing review of the home in order to help the sale go through – and in turn, the real estate agent may continue using that inspector to keep the business coming. This practice has been banned within the industry. Instead, Realtors must give you at least three names of home inspectors and/or lenders if you ask for a recommendation.


How “Good” the Neighborhood Is


This is a really common question among buyers shopping for West Chester and Liberty Township real estate for sale, especially those who are unfamiliar with certain neighborhoods. It’s a loaded question and certainly, open for interpretation. What one agent might consider a “good” neighborhood, another agent may recommend you steer clear of, and vice versa. Who’s to define what’s “good,” anyhow?


The 1968 Fair Housing Act was put in place to prevent discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and family status. This policy has affected the real estate industry immensely. Most notably, real estate agents are advised NOT to give their opinions about certain neighborhoods. One slip of the tongue could result in an agent unintentionally violating the Fair Housing Act. So if you ask about the nearest church or whether a neighborhood is family friendly, don’t be surprised if your agent beats around the bush or speaks in general terms.


Whether a Neighborhood is “Safe”


Obviously, people want to live in safe neighborhoods. Just as it’s hard to measure whether a neighborhood is “good,” it’s also hard for real estate agents to define whether an area is “safe.” Safety is subjective. Instead of answering this question directly, Realtors are advised to give buyers information about local crime statistics so they can evaluate how “safe” a neighborhood is on their own. For instance, an area may be well-lit and thus perceived to be “safe,” but is it really? The crime stats are more telling than what you may perceive first-hand.


The Quality of Schools


Once again, quality of education is subjective. A local high school, for example, may have relatively low test scores – but it could be that that school has a large number of immigrant families where some students struggle. The test scores alone don’t paint the full picture. That same school may have robust programs that help struggling students overcome barriers and ultimately thrive.


In other words, what makes a school “good” can really vary depending on your perspective. One person may value diversity, while another may care more about test scores. As a result, Realtors are advised to point buyers to sources of additional information that helps them make a decision about the quality of schools on their own.


Whether a Home will Appreciate in Value


People looking for West Chester and Liberty Township real estate usually want to know that they’re making a smart investment. But asking whether a certain home will appreciate in value, or retain its value over time, is really anyone’s guess. A Realtor can’t give you a definitive answer. None of us have a crystal ball (though wouldn’t that be nice!). Every investment carries risk and buyers are forewarned to do their own due diligence.




If you’re shopping around for West Chester and Liberty Township homes for sale, understand that your Realtor DOES have your best interests in mind – but there are simply some things he or she cannot tell you. It’s not because your Realtor doesn’t want to tell you. And certainly, a good agent would never intentionally mislead you. But there are some questions that have subjective answers that all Realtors must steer clear of for their own professional safety.

That said, there are many other ways a Realtor can add value to your home search. There’s a ton of information and knowledge they can share with you! If you’re ready to get your home search started, give us a call today to learn more!