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January 5th, 2010
This seems like a nonsensical question to ask, but it is one that must be considered when purchasing a home in California…and one of the many pieces of information the Buyer has access to through the disclosure process. Thanks to the Megan’s Law website, the whereabouts of registered sex offenders is a matter of public record.
Paragraph 5C of the California Residential Purchase Agreement reads, “MEGAN’S LAW DATABASE DISCLOSURE: Notice: Pursuant to Section 290 46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the department of Justice at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and ZIP Code in which he or she resides (Neither Seller nor Brokers are required to check this website. If Buyer wants further information, Broker recommends that Buyer obtain information from this website during Buyer’s inspection contingency period. Brokers do not have expertise in this area.)”
This paragraph is nestled into the contract between disclosure language regarding Natural and Environmental Hazards and Condominium/Planned Unit Developments, and is often given little attention from homebuyers eager to purchase the home of their dreams…it’s so much more fun to focus on where the Christmas tree will go (amazingly, one of the first questions many homebuyers ask)!
I recently had the privilege of working with an adorable young couple who was in the market to purchase their first home. We looked at several homes together, and they narrowed it down to the one they wanted to call “home.” We wrote an offer, the offer was accepted, and the disclosure process began…the very first thing they did was get online and check the Megan’s Law website to ensure that they were moving into a neighborhood where they would feel comfortable raising a family. Much to their surprise, and mine, they learned that there were four registered sex offenders living within 1/4 mile of the home! After much thought, reflection, and prayer, they made the decision to withdraw their offer, and they were well within their rights to do so. That’s what the disclosure process is all about!
The good news is that my clients found another home that they loved even more, and the other home sold the very next day to someone else who was not discouraged by the fact that some of their neighbors were registered sex offenders. Win, Win!