Is the Presence of a Sex Offender a Material Fact?

QUESTION: I am curious about disclosure to buyers regarding the sex offender list. Am I required to tell all potential buyers of sex offenders in the neighborhood? If so, what is the radius I am responsible for?

ANSWER: Certain facts are considered not to be “material” according to North Carolina law, including the fact that the property was occupied previously by a person who died or had a serious illness while occupying the property, or that a person who is required to register under North Carolina’s Sex Offender and Public Protection Registration Program or the Sexually Violent Predator Registration Program occupies, occupied, or resides near the property. See NC General Statutes Section 39-50, available online at:

Since such facts are not material by law, real estate agents are not required to voluntarily disclose them. If a buyer specifically asks about the possible presence of sex offenders in the neighborhood, an agent must either respond honestly or decline to answer. How you handle a particular situation will vary depending on the specific facts, but as a general rule we suggest that you make a prospective buyer aware that a registry exists, how to access the registry, and encourage the buyer investigate himself or herself if he or she has any concerns about the possible presence of sex offenders in the surrounding area. Information about registered sex offender scan be obtained via county sex offender registries maintained by local sheriffs’ departments or by visiting the web site of the NC Department of Justice at:

As with any disclosure, it is a good risk management practice to get something in writing confirming what you have told the buyer. Consideration should be given to using the North Carolina Buyer Advisory as a disclosure tool. The Buyer Advisory is an NCAR publication containing information about this issue and many others that may be of interest to prospective buyers. It is available on the Legal & Ethics page of the NCAR web site at

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