8 Things Your Real Estate Agent Can’t Tell You
The typical real estate transaction involves a seller, their real estate agent who is the listing agent and a buyer, their agent who is known as the buyer’s agent. It is not always this way for example in a dual agency situation the real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller! If the seller is doing a for sale by owner, there might only be one real estate agent who is representing the buyer. Either way there are lots of things your agent can’t tell you, it could be the law, required by their governing body or they just don’t know and are not expected to know. Agents should do their due diligence to protect their clients and find out as much relevant information to the transaction as possible and there are somethings you may never know or only find out after you sell or buy your house.
1. Why The Sellers are Selling.
A common question agents get asked when showing homes to buyers is “Why are they Selling?” If the agent is not the listing agent they would have no way of knowing why the home is for sale. It might be a situation where the sellers are being relocated in which case the listing agent might note that. Why they are selling could remain a mystery until the closing and even then you may not ever know. They could be getting a divorce, going through some financial difficulty or just looking to move up to a bigger home or downsize to something. Sometimes the listing agent might mention “Motivated Seller” in the remarks which may give some indication, if the house is vacant or looks like there is a caretaker arrangement going on. It may help buyers to come up with a price to offer if they know why the sellers are selling but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter why they are selling. You should make your offer based on a comparison market analysis and what your budget dictates.
2. How much they owe on the house.
Anyone can see how much people paid for a house by using the county or city records and your agent can use the Multiple Listing Service. They can see when it was purchased by the sellers and what the loan amount was. It’s impossible to truly know what they actually owe on the house.They may have taken out a loan or refinanced and rolled the closing costs into that loan. It’s possible they owe more on the house than it is worth or their real estate agency fees are more than the market price of the home. They may own it free and clear or they they owe gambling debts and the house is collateral. Again as mentioned above it shouldn’t affect what you offer for the house.You can always go on Zillow and get completely incorrect information about any house out there that will do you no good whatsoever.
3. Where The Property Lines Are.
The only way to know the exact property corners and lot lines is to have a survey done. You can guess all you want but you have no way of knowing if that pin is in the right spot. Now you can sometimes make a pretty educated guess if you find the pins and you have the lot line measurements and the GIS image… it only becomes a problem when it becomes a problem. Depending on where the property is and if it is new construction or an older home can make a difference. Here in North Carolina it is very common when looking at new construction to see wooden stakes in the ground with ribbons attached at the corners of each lot and you might see ribbons attached to tree branches along the lot lines. It is also common for those wooden stakes to be crushed by bulldozers, cement trucks or picked up and put down in the wrong spot. Having a survey done is unfortunately one of those things that homebuyers decide to opt out of, relying on what looks like the property line to be their property. You may spend years in a house and never have an issue until it comes time to sell and the buyers get a survey…oops they are not your trees!
4. If They Are Telling The Truth
Some people just lie, they may be little white lies or fraudulent deceptions either way some people do it. If you find yourself in a transaction with someone like that it may cost you. There is not a whole lot your agent can tell you about someone lying and it’s often the case you both find out at the same time. Material facts about a property must be disclosed to buyers, if there are know defects in the home, assessments due anything that a buyer would be expected to have knowledge about before purchasing the home. But buyers and sellers occasionally do lie and your agent can’t tell you if they do. REALTORS© are real estate agents who have a code of ethics and are supposed to conduct themselves accordingly. They are obligated to inform buyers about any material facts whether the seller wishes to or not and be honest in all their dealings with all parties. If they don’t there are varying degrees of warnings, fines and in some cases they can lose their license. When working as a buyers agent I get asked all the time when a listing agent says they have lots of showings or they are getting an offer on a property if it’s true and I can’t tell for certain, in a sellers market very likely.
5. Anything About Protected Status Groups
The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when buying, renting or securing financing for housing. The federal act protects people based on the following…
- National Origin
- Familial Status
Several states have added categories to the federal list such as sexual orientation, military status, marital status, age and local municipalities and cities may have their own protected groups as well. Real estate agents and REALTORS© have very clear guidelines about what they can and can’t tell you. Some of the things a real estate agent can’t tell you is the racial makeup of a particular neighborhood, the presence or lack of children in a neighborhood, how close the neighborhood is to a certain church, mosque or temple. A real estate agent can’t tell you if a particular neighborhood is Italian, Polish, Irish or any other nationality whether you would like to know or not.
6. What will happen in 10 years
Who knows? Predicting the future is hard and as much as agents would like to able to tell you what’s going to happen in ten years most of the time we can’t. When you buy a house with say a beautiful field or woodland behind it it’s not always evident as to what will become of that field or private space behind or around your house. The current owner may have no plans to change anything but they may sell or pass it on to family members who will most definitely sell it. Progress is hard to stop so cities and towns try to plan for it and direct it with long range forecasts and zoning regulations. You should know if there is a major highway planned near you and what is allowed to be built near you but zoning and plans can change to adapt to current trends. Property rights are just that, the owner has the right to do what they want with their property and sell it or develop it for whatever is the best use of that land is within their rights. The only way to be sure the land behind you or around you will stay the way you want it is to buy it.
7. What Your House Will Be Worth In 20 Years
The real estate crash of 2007/8 crushed a lot of people’s dreams and the notion that housing prices would forever keep going up. People had gotten used to the idea that the equity in their home would always be there and many were banking on it for retirement, to pay for college, vacations etc. Since then predictions about the housing market tend to keep an eye in the rear view mirror knowing that nothing is ever guaranteed. Long term gradual predictions and conservative estimates are a better indication of what your house may be worth in 20 years but the real answer is that nobody can tell you.
8. Who The Buyer Really Is.
When a listing agent receives an offer on your house, they have a name, possibly an address of the potential buyer and a pre-qualification letter from their lender. They can tell you what type of loan they are applying for, they can tell you if they have a house to sell and that’s about it. They can’t tell you how motivated they are and depending on the feedback they give whether they are interested in you house. Even when the feedback is great they loved the house and are going to make an offer, your agent can’t tell you for sure that offer is coming. With the advent of social media these days it is easy to find someone’s profile online but it’s rare you’ll see quotes like “found our dream house today” or “would pay anything for the house we saw this afternoon” anymore. Real estate transactions can be complicated and with at least two parties involved not everything is evident and there are some things your real estate agent can’t tell you. They may be able to advise you how to go about finding out or recommend an expert who can tell you. Here are some fact filled articles from real estate professionals around the country to help guide you in the home buying or selling process. What is Dual Agency In Real Estate by Kyle Hiscock What Is A HOA Special Assessment by Debbie Drummond Real Estate Scams To Watch For by Paul Sian