Friday, April 25, 2014

Should information about local sex offenders be part of a listing?

What is your opinion of some real estate web sites that are now offering information regarding sex offenders to prospective home buyers? If you’re not aware of this growing trend you should be. More and more listing portals are beginning to include specific information about convicted sex offenders along with the usual information regarding homes for sale. One such example is RealtyTrac.

I have been reading a lot about this topic lately and it seems that the real estate industry is split right down the middle when it comes to this very serious topic. Some people feel that this type of information should definitely be included on websites that are used to advertise homes for sale. Their thought is that we must protect home buyers from unknowingly placing their children into what could be a very dangerous situation. Others feel that this is going too far and fear that the result could bring down property values and make selling homes in a given area next to impossible. I’m finding it difficult to disagree with either side of this debate. It seems to me that both are right.

This issue goes a lot deeper than just how such things can affect the real estate market although that is serious enough. What exactly are the rights of someone that has committed a crime such as a sex offense? If they have already “done their time” and paid their debt to society is it just to keep convicting them in the court of public opinion? What about the other home owners in a specific area? Is it fair to possibly lower their property values or to make it almost impossible for them to sell their home because of something their neighbor did?  And, of course, what about home buyers? It certainly isn’t fair for them to invest in a new home only to find out that someone living very close to them is a repeated offender of children the same age as their own- or is it?

Let’s face it; we wouldn’t normally be aware that our neighbor had been convicted of home burglary 12 times before if he didn’t tell us himself. What about the couple down the street that was involved in the distribution of illegal drugs 10 years before? That type of activity can make a neighborhood dangerous for everyone, not just the children but we wouldn’t normally be aware of their past. So where does it end?

This issue affects a lot of people in a lot of different ways and the real question is, “What is the right thing to do”?

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