Certainly, the question is a valid one when parents of school-age children ask brokers about the quality of education near a property that they might want to purchase.
Good question or not, it is not one that any broker with a brain will answer.
A recent piece in the New York Times, which explored how important good schools are to parents in New York City, reminded me of the hazard that brokers face should they try to satisfy the buyer’s curiosity.
At issue is the Fair Housing Act and other legislation, about which I have periodically written, and their prohibitions against discrimination on a number of grounds–among them, race, nationality, sex, age, family status and religion.
By the government’s and the courts’ strict interpretation of the law, brokers’ talking about schools is a proxy for talking about race. The same is true for answering questions about crime. And to indicate what sort of residents that the building contains or who lives in the neighborhood is to ask for trouble.
For buyers who want answers to such questions, the best advice is an Internet search (e.g. InsideSchools.com) for education, the New York City Police Department for crime statistics, and your eyes and ears for how the neighborhood feels to you at all hours as well as for seeing who comes and goes from the building.
Perhaps it’s frustrating for buyers to be given such advice, but isn’t it better to assess the situation themselves than to receive a filtered response from a broker? For a broker, it certainly beats a heavy fine, or worse.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022