Agents want no part in reporting sex offenders

Legislation that would require real estate agents in the US state of Missouri to warn local residents about a homebuyer who is a sex offender has been quashed, with local agents strongly opposed to an idea its creator now describes as "crazy", according to a report.

KCTV 5 reported that it took only two weeks for Charlie Davis, who introduced the controversial bill, to appreciate that the idea was “crazy”.

In his original proposition, Mr Davis claimed sex offenders “have the right to live in a community if they want to, but it's also the right of the families to know if there is a member in their community that is a convicted sex offender against children so we can make sure our children are aware of it and it doesn't happen to them”.

According to the report, the original law would have demanded that sex offenders planning to buy a property tell real estate agents about their background. This agent would then have been required to disclose this information to the vendor’s agent, and to neighbours within half a mile (800 metres) of the property.

Just 12 days on, however, and Mr Davis had a different view and was withdrawing the proposed law.

“When I look back, I think of that as, ‘it's kind of crazy,'” he told KCTV 5.

Opponents pointed out that real estate agents might have been held legally liable if a sex offender didn’t notify them of their past before purchasing a house. Moreover, while more common than the number of Australians using a buyers’ agent, there are still plenty of US buyers that don’t use an agent to acquire a property.

In October, the Western Australia government launched Australia's first sex offender registry at www.communityprotection.wa.gov.au.

“The Community Protection Website provides any member of the public with access to photographs and certain information on Western Australia’s most dangerous and high risk sexual offenders,” the organisation says on its website.

The majority of comments about the US proposal on the REALTORMag website were against the law.

“When did (will) Realtors be performing the work of the courts for something unrelated to helping someone buy a home?” said Steve Freeman.

“This is what registries are for. The offender is supposed to notify the local police, who then updates the online database for anyone in the public to view. A buyer agent should not have to ask, and the buyer should not have to tell; and even if told, there is a fiduciary interest to consider. This is NOT the job of the realtor; it's a job for law enforcement.”

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