What kind of people live around this home? Are there sex offenders nearby? What’s the crime level like? How about the schools? Answering these questions can be challenging for real estate agents, potentially putting them at risk of providing inaccurate information or flirting with fair housing laws.

  • Agents can direct buyers to property report providers to avoid answering sensitive questions about homes' neighborhoods.
  • Some speculate that sellers and agents may gain an advantage by providing property reports like those generated by Home Disclosure to prospective buyers.
  • Home Disclosure was rolled out by RealtyTrac, which also operates the listing portal RealtyTrac and Homefacts.com.

What kind of people live around this home? Are there sex offenders nearby? What’s the crime level like? How about the schools?

Answering these questions can be challenging for real estate agents, potentially putting them at risk of providing inaccurate information or flirting with fair housing laws.

Agents who prefer to direct homebuyers to resources where they can dig up sensitive information for themselves might consider sending their clients to Home Disclosure, a provider of “pre-diligence reports.” The website was recently rolled out by RealtyTrac, which also operates the listing portal RealtyTrac and Homefacts.com.

Screen shot showing sample Home Disclosure report

Screen shot showing sample Home Disclosure report

Home Disclosure joins a growing list of services that generate free property reports, including AddressReport, Revaluate and Homefacts.com. These services all present a vast trove of data on properties and their surroundings.

And Home Disclosure is no exception, serving up everything from the locations of nearby sex offenders, crime level, school quality and median income to racial makeup, loan and equity information, “fair market rent” and nearby fire stations.

The challenge for services like Home Disclosure is to present vast seas of data in a way that doesn’t make readers’ heads explode.

On this count, Home Disclosure passes with flying colors. It offers a clean design that breaks the data down into “alerts,” “concerns” and “benefits” along with tabs featuring basic information on neighborhood and property characteristics that users can click for more details.

Peter G. Miller, a Maryland real estate broker, argues that providing “pre-diligence reports,” like those generated by Home Disclosure, to prospective buyers will become a standard practice for sellers and agents in the future.

“It will be a way to add credibility from an independent third party to property presentations and marketing programs,” he wrote in an article that appeared in a recent issue of RealtyTrac’s newsletter, which RealtyTrac also used to introduce Home Disclosure.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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