Fair Housing and Your Realtor

Crime, Demographics and Schools in Nashville TN

We’ve all seen the “Equal Housing Opportunity” logo, but what does “Fair Housing” have to do with your Realtor when you are BUYING a home?

As a Realtor, I’m asked repeatedly about demographics, safety, and schools in certain Nashville neighborhoods. What most folks don’t realize is that as agents we have to be very careful not to discuss certain aspects of a neighborhood;  not to stereotype or “steer” clients toward or away one place or another. The National Association of Realtors® has a strict Code of Ethics that prevents all members from discriminating actions pertaining to Fair Housing. Race, color, religion, sex and national origin are all protected classes. These rules carry over and prevent us from offering our opinions about crime rates, schools, and demographics.

It can be pretty odd to say something like “Well ma’am, I’m sorry, but I can’t provide that information because…”   To avoid this awkward conversation, I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the best resources online to aide in your search for the perfect Nashville neighborhood.

Crime Rates

There are tons of websites out there where you can study crime. The Metro Nashville Police Department will be the definitive authority on this.  MNPD recently started turning their data over to CrimeMapping-  an organization that creates easy to understand interactive maps that look like this:

Pretty nice looking, eh? And it allows users to search by dates, streets, types of crime, reporting agency, and more. Alternately, you can also research area stats on council district or zip code. It should also be noted that local crime rates are at a twenty-year low as reported by multiple agencies. For some fascinating reading on this topic I highly recommend checking out the book Free Range Kids.

Public Schools

Schools are another biggie. While we are not known in Tennessee for a particularly strong schools (and don’t sue me for saying that), I seem to have gotten through the system in tact. Like crime, there are literally hundreds of sites out there that rate and discuss schools. Here are the sites that I find to be most intuitive:

Demographics

Of course I don’t have the racial makeup, age trends, or income averages of each zip code memorized, but even if I did, I couldn’t tell ya! Discussing demographics is probably the touchiest Fair Housing violation of them all. Luckily the US Census has presented clear and concise info for your consumption. They joined forces with the NYTimes to create one of the most FAB websites in the land. The Mapping America project allows anyone to zoom into an area to study local demographics. The map defaults to the northeast so you’ll need to enter a city or zip code.  You can view several options in regards to ethnicity, income, education and more.

Sample Heat Map of Foreign Born Populations in Nashville

 

The Census also offers a few tools on their site where you can search by zip, but this map is handy too. The Nashville Chamber also offers some interesting trending data over time. Finally City-Data breaks the numbers down into pretty, easy-to-read charts.

Other Handy Sites

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