Real Estate Talk: 7 Tricky Conversations (and How to Navigate Them)

Published On: June 20th, 2022Categories: Networking, Real Estate, Tips and TricksLast Updated: October 24th, 202218.9 min read

About the Author: Nicole Schnell

on a gray background a person shows time-out with their hands to illustrate real estate talk to avoid

As a real estate agent, you talk to a lot of people about a lot of things (it sometimes feels like you’re a therapist). But real estate talk can be tricky to navigate. You’re there to guide someone’s home buying or selling journey and answer their questions throughout the process. They look to you as their real estate expert. It can be tempting sometimes to answer all their questions and be as helpful as you can. But there are times when that can fail to help your client and will even get you in trouble with the law or your real estate license. Here are seven real estate conversations to be careful of, and how to navigate your way safely through.

#1: “Good” Schools

Buyers and renters with children often want to know if the schools in the area are good. The answer to this can be subjective and they may not agree with you on what’s considered “good.” It could also violate fair housing by potentially steering them away from the area due to their race, religion, or other protected demographic.

Do this instead:

Share third-party resources where they can get the information and form their own opinion. You should be aware of which schools are in the area, though – sharing the facts is okay.

#2: Crime Rates

Another common question from clients is about how safe the neighborhood is. Under the Fair Housing Act, real estate agents cannot talk about crime rates. It could be interpreted as discrimination, whether you intend to or not, and lead to a complaint against your real estate license.

Do this instead:

You can provide contact info for local law enforcement and links to third-party crime resources. Encourage your clients to get to know the area and talk to neighbors.

#3: “Is That Mold?”

It isn’t uncommon to see the occasional black spot on a ceiling or in a shower. But unless you’re a mold inspector, do not tell your clients whether it is or isn’t mold. 

Do this instead:

Do provide recommendations for professionals who can test for and treat mold. If you’re working with buyers or renters, give them a mold disclosure that explains their rights. If you’re working with sellers, talk about their obligation to disclose any knowledge of mold in the home.

#4: Home Renovations

Real estate “reality” shows have made it look like an agent can help clients imagine the renovation potential of a home. Unless you’re a licensed contractor or other home improvement professional, don’t talk about tearing down walls or moving the kitchen around. If something goes wrong in construction, your clients could find you at fault.

Do this instead:

Have a network of home professionals you trust that you can recommend to your clients. If you’re looking at fixer-uppers, ask your clients if they’d like to include a general contractor on walkthroughs to provide estimates and expert advice.

#5: Pricing a Home for Sale

It makes sense that a seller’s agent should tell their client what to price their home at, right? Not quite. A real estate agent is an expert guide, not a decision-maker. If the home doesn’t sell at the price you set, the owner may place the blame on you.

Do this instead:

Research and present the market data to your client with your best analysis of how their home compares to other properties in the area. Provide a suggested range and allow the client to decide what list price best fits their needs.

#6: Mortgage Advice

Buying property is one of the biggest financial decisions most people will make in their lives. An agent should have a good understanding of the financing process to help educate their clients. Be careful not to cross the line from educating to giving financial advice, though.

Do this instead:

Leave the lending to the lender! If your client doesn’t already have one, recommend three or more they can reach out to. If your client does have a lender, keep them looped into all financial conversations and redirect questions back to them.

#7: Legal Advice

Real estate may not be rocket science, but contracts can be overwhelming and hard to understand for someone without experience. It can be tempting to interpret a few lines in a contract to save some time (especially in a hot market). However, this may cost you a lot of time and money later if you end up in court over your “interpretation.”

Do this instead:

You can read a promulgated contract verbatim to your client and provide them with a real estate terminology sheet. When it comes to interpreting a contract, always recommend your clients seek advice from a real estate attorney. Let them know at the start of your working relationship and remind them when they go under contract.

Real estate is a business of building relationships. Agents want to keep their clients happy and well taken care of, which can sometimes put them in tricky situations. If you want to keep serving clients at your best, then it’s important to always abide by the ethics and standards of the industry. When in doubt, say that you’ll look into the situation more and get back to them with an answer. This is why networking with industry professionals is so valuable – it takes a village!

Do you know what conversation isn’t very tricky? Helping your clients choose the right services to market their property in the best light! Square Foot Productions is here for all your virtual staging and real estate photo editing needs.

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