Recently, there was a question posted on Trulia.com where the poster asked about the safety of a certain neighborhood. Typically a post will generate several replies by REALTORS. This one?
One brave soul, named Joe the Builder ventured a reply as to his opinion on the safety of the neighborhood, and then questioned why REALTORS didn't rush to answer. It engendered a great discussion (and slight thread hi-jack) between us, and you can read about it here.
Here's the thing...REALTORS are bound to uphold the Fair Housing Laws, and one of those has to do with something called steering. Steering is when a REALTOR will try to guide someone to a neighborhood, school district, area, price range, etc, based on their own personal opinions. It can range to overt discrimination (only showing a Russian Buyer homes in an area with a large Russian population) to more subtle "opinion" based steering (encouraging a Buyer to buy in one school district over another).
Because of Fair Housing Laws, REALTORS are not supposed to give an opinion on the quality of neighborhoods, school districts, or areas. Now, I've got an opinion, all right. Trust me - I always have an opinion! But, I'm not allowed to spout those opinions off to you as they relate to "better" neighborhoods, school districts, etc. The best I can do is point you in the direction to find the information you need: police stations, websites, data sources, etc.
It's important for you to realize that no matter how much you trust your REALTOR, and how much we WANT to tell you what we think, we just CAN'T, and that's a limitation that may be frustrating for all involved, but ultimately serves the higher good.
For more information on Fair Housing Laws, click here.