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If you're planning on moving this spring, chances are you'll be using a broker--and you'll have a million questions for him or her. But there are some queries that your broker can't legally respond to. Save your breath on the following:
Is this a kid-friendly building?
Brokers aren't allowed to answer questions that relate to “trigger” words and phrases verboten in listings under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, family status and other categories. Sure, you're probably glad that your broker isn't a racist, but keep in mind that some illegal areas of inquiry are not necessarily clear-cut. “Are there lots of empty-nesters in the building?” and “Are there lots of kids in building?" are out of bounds.
How good are the local schools?
For the same reason, brokers also have to be careful about answers they give to questions about the quality of schools. They can say what institutions are nearby but not much more. (InsideSchools.org is a good resource.)
What's this neighborhood called?
Yes, your broker can legally answer this question. But it may be tricky to get an accurate response. Neighborhood borders are often blurry, and brokers are constantly coming up with nicknames to make a 'hood seem more trendy. Some stick, some don't. (SoHa for South Harlem anyone?) Best to stroll down the street to see if you like the area.
And what are the FAQs brokers can answer? Check out the full story.