Disclosure of School District Information

QUESTION: I am listing a property for sale. The property is currently located in a school district that is considered desirable. However, I know that school district boundaries are subject to change, and that this property may be affected by changes that are under consideration by the local school board. Is this potential for change a material fact that must be disclosed to potential buyers of the property?

ANSWER: A property’s location within a particular school district is a fact that may be very important to a prospective buyer. However, as a general proposition, licensed agents do not have an affirmative obligation to disclose the school district that a property that they have listed (or are showing) is located in. Having said that, if an agent chooses to disclose information about a school district, the agent must make a reasonably diligent effort to confirm the accuracy of the information they are providing.

Many multiple listing services provide a field for agents to disclose the school district of listed properties. However, because of the ever-present risk that school district lines will be re-drawn during the listing period, a number of them have made the school district field non-mandatory. Agents who are members of those MLS’s have the choice of leaving that field blank.

In an MLS where the school district field is mandatory, one option for the listing agent may be to insert only the name of the county or city having jurisdiction over the local schools. A broker can then provide additional information such as a link to the school district website so that potential buyers and their agents can research the issue for themselves. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission generally would consider this type of disclosure to be adequate.

NCAR briefly addressed the subject of school districts in its Buyer Advisory (a document that is accessible from the Legal Department page on NCAR’s website) as follows: “Location within a school district can be an important attribute of a neighborhood. School boundaries, however, are subject to change. If location within a particular school district is material to the purchase of real property, the buyer should investigate the boundaries and the likelihood of change by contacting the local school district directly.”

Of course, whether an agent involved in a particular transaction as either a listing agent or a buyer agent might have an obligation to disclose the school district to a prospective buyer will always depend on the specific facts of the situation.

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