Many resources provide insights into best schools

Belmont High School wasn't all algebra and English, thank goodness. That's Julie and me cutting the cake to celebrate an occasion long forgotten. (Photo by Ron Kessler)

Real estate agents often are asked where the good schools are or whether a particular school is worthy.

Anyone who answers those questions is in danger of prosecution. That’s because giving schools information is likened to giving neighborhood information.

Under the Fair Housing Act, we’re not allowed to steer buyers toward or away from a “good” or a “bad” neighborhood because doing so amounts to racial discrimination.  Among other characteristics, discriminating by race is against the law on not only the federal level, but state and municipal levels as well.

For buyers in search of helpful information about public and private schools, other resources ensure that all is not lost. Continue reading

The High Road: Love letters skate on thin ice

(Flickr photo by Patrick Mayon)

A recent article in the New York Times went on about the virtues of sending a “love letter” to the owners of properties that sellers would like to purchase.

Such a letter would extol the apartment or house, describe how the prospective buyers are passionate to make it their home and otherwise provide information meant to personalize the potential transaction.

Back when I was selling real estate in Washington, D.C., when that market was white-hot, I’d advise buyers and even help them draft such letters in an effort to best the competition during frequent bidding wars.

That was a mistake then, and it is a mistake now.  Actually, it is more than a mistake: Continue reading

The High Road: Some secrets shouldn’t be kept

Brooklyn street in 1974, photographed by Danny Lyon

During a recent tour of open houses for brokers, two of us who hadn’t known each other found ourselves walking together between the new developments on our schedule.

The other broker, a seemingly competent and professional one I’ll call Carrie, asked me which building I liked best.

When I told her, she agreed that the condos were very nice but that she was concerned about the block, which is more appealing that the one in the photo.  Continue reading

There’s a chance you’ll be disabled someday too

Avalon Morningside Park

When most of us think of the Fair Housing Act, what occurs first is its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or familial status.

Perhaps we  overlook the additional requirement to treat fairly someone with a handicap.

Although I hope no one who reads this post is or will be disabled, chances are pretty good you at least know someone who fits the federal definition as articulated in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development,  it says:

An individual with a handicap is a person who Continue reading

Out of the mouths of babes is one thing. . .

There oughtta be a law. But wait, there IS. (Flickr photo by kolix)

But out of the mouths of experienced brokers is quite another.

The other day, clients of mine lingered in a $2 million loft that interested them in Tribeca.  As we were leaving the newish building in lower Manhattan, they asked the broker who showed us the condo two questions that he should have known better than to have answered.

Q.  Who lives in the building?

A.  A lot of nice people, many like you.

Q.  What’s the neighborhood like?

A.  It’s very safe.

I had all I could do to keep my jaw from dropping.  As anyone in the business worth his salt knows, his answers were clear violations of the Fair Housing Act.  They represented cause for a discrimination complaint.

But, then, this is the same broker who consumed more than 24 hours to respond to my requests, by e-mail and by voicemail to his mobile phone, for a showing on the very day that he finally replied–way too late and ignoring my further urgings for him to call me.

Oh, yes, then he telephoned me 45 minutes before the appointment that we finally made – in writing – to ask where we were.

Wouldn’t it be cool if brokers had an enforceable requirement to report Fair Housing offenses?

I’m just sayin’.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

Brokers flout Fair Housing laws with impunity

When it comes to many matters relating to real estate, the Big Apple often lags the rest of the country.

One prime example discussed on this blog concerns the continuing resistance, especially by the biggest brokerages, to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) even while reluctantly accepting VOWs (Virtual Online Web sites).

Another example involves the strictures of the Fair Housing Act, along with other anti-discrimination legislation on the municipal, state and and federal levels.

Such measures protect certain “classes” of consumers–for instance, by the source of their income, marital status, age, race and sexual orientation.  (In D.C., sellers may not discriminate by what is called matriculation, that is, against students.)  The list of protected classes can rise into the high teens.

Well schooled about the subtleties of the law when I was affiliated with Long & Foster Real Estate in D.C., I was astonished to see how flagrantly the provisions of the law were violated with impunity by brokers here in New York City. Continue reading