The Dreaded Disclosure.
It’s always been an emotional conversation within the industry. How much do I have to disclose about this home or this neighborhood? I want to do the right thing but I do not want to lose this deal. It’s all human nature and it’s been a judgment call in the most controversial areas. And most in the industry would rather not talk about it.
The Recent Homeowner/Agent Sex Offender Lawsuit
Recently, Inman News ran an article about a new homeowner
who purchased a home and later found out that there was a
registered sex offender who lived next door to the home that
This information was allegedly not disclosed to the homeowner, although this information is widely available because of Meghan’s Law. Interestingly enough, the agent was not
required to disclose sex offender data to the consumer.
What’s even more amazing is that in 23 states that agent would
not have to disclose if the home being purchased was a former
meth lab either, even fewer states if it was a rental, according
to Realty Times. But that would be another article for another
The Inman article does provide guidance from NAR legal on
what an agent should and disclose what they don’t necessarily
have to disclose when it comes to registered sex offenders.
The article has suggestions for both buyer’s and seller’s agents
and it’s not all black and white. But do agents and brokers
really want to enter this very slippery slope of required and
maybe not required disclosures?
I think that many will want to err on the side of full disclosure if they think a lawsuit may be around the corner.
Who Exactly Requires Registered Sex Offender Disclosure?
Similar to meth lab disclosure, disclosure of registered sex
offenders is regulated by each state. Per the Inman article,
currently two states mandate no disclosure of registered sex
offenders by the real estate professional, New Jersey and
Delaware. In effect, that protects the privacy of the registered
sex offender. The state of Montana requires sex offender
disclosure by the agent.
The other 47 states do not have specific rules regarding
registered offender disclosure. In the Inman article, NAR legal
counsel suggests that buyer’s agents should disclose offender
information but seller’s agents may not have to. This all seems
like a lot to keep track of and be cautious about for the real
Shouldn’t We Do The Right Thing?
Let’s think about this for a second. If you were going to buy a
home and move your family into said home and your agent
had easy access to all registered offender data in the
neighborhood, wouldn’t you want to be informed? Would you
not be upset if that data was withheld from you? Could it not
build a bond of trust between you and that agent and make
you want to stay with them for life?
So are we saying here that we potentially endanger innocent
children so that we may sell a home? This data may affect
markets in the future and, if you think about it, once that data
is more formalized, maybe it should.
HomeDisclosure by RealtyTrac
So where do homeowners and agents go to find out about
registered offenders, drug labs and more? Who is supposed to
let them know about all of this and who has all the data? Well
the data is all over the Internet. It is definitely out there. The
trick is to find one comprehensive, trusted source to provide
both agents and consumers easy access to this data. Our team
at RealtyTrac is focused on developing compelling consumer
products that utilize our vast database of information. With
our recent access to all public record data for the housing industry and RealtyTrac’s acquisition of neighborhood portal
HomeFacts in 2012, we are uniquely positioned to provide
both consumers and the real estate industry this type of data
The BETA Version Is Free
We will be launching the beta version HomeDisclosure by
RealtyTrac in December 2015 and it will provide a world-class
user interface to instantly access all this data and more.
HomeDisclosure will provide over 40 categories of data
including property details, existing loan info, comparable
sales, etc. Neighborhood information, including nearby drug
lab data, registered criminal offenders and more will be
available. HomeDisclosure will let you know if the home you
are purchasing was a former drug lab or if there are any
homes nearby that were once a former drug lab. Fire incidents,
building permits, transaction history and so much more will
also be displayed.
HomeDisclosure was purpose-built for a mobile environment;
all of this data will load perfectly into any mobile device. We
will be looking forward to your feedback and hope that this
product helps everyone, the consumer, the agent, the broker
and ultimately the entire real estate industry.