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When selling a home, must you disclose nearby sex offenders?

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2022 | Real Estate Law

Most people don’t sell a home very often, and that can leave you a little fuzzy about the rules you have to follow. You know that there are certain disclosures you have to make about the property that could affect both its value and any potential offers you might receive.

What about the fact that there is a sex offender (or more than one) living in the area? Is that something that you must disclose? What is your real estate agent’s obligation under the law? Here’s what you need to know:

Both sellers and their realtors are actually forbidden from disclosure

Megan’s Law,” which is now federally recognized, got its start in New Jersey. Among other things, it requires official notification to be sent to area homeowners and residents when “a moderate or high risk” sex offender moves into a neighborhood.

However, in the interests of balancing out the public’s safety with an individual’s right to privacy, the law (and the notice sent to area residents) expressly forbids homeowners from disclosing the information outside of their own household.

Furthermore, the Real Estate Commission (REC) also forbids realtors from answering questions about sex offenders in the area, nor may they procure that information for a potential buyer.

Buyers may contact the county prosecutor or check the state’s sex offender internet registry on their own (if they’re so inclined).

It’s good to know the limits of your obligations to a potential buyer. The last thing you want is for a sale to turn into a legal nightmare that could, potentially, go on for years. Make sure that you have experienced guidance from start to finish.