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Buying a Home Next to a Sex Offender? Check the Registry

There are many considerations when buying a home. Price. Number of bedrooms, bathrooms. School districts. Granite countertops.

But many home buyers, especially buyers with young children, may not be aware of one of the most important considerations -- is your new neighbor a registered sex offender?

The Boston Globe recently posed the question of what a listing agent's duty was to notify potential buyers that the person living next door was a level-three sex offender.

The answer is that there is no duty.

According to the Globe, the Massachusetts "Megan's Law" -- the common term for state sex offender registry laws -- requires police to inform neighbors when a sex offender is released from prison and moves into the neighborhood. However, there is no requirement for the police to inform potential home buyers.

In fact, there is no duty for anyone to notify a buyer that the home is next door to a sex offender. Neither the seller, nor the listing agent, is required to give such notice.

Instead, the law makes it the buyer's responsibility to perform due diligence reports the Globe. Buyers must investigate for themselves whether there is a sex offender in the neighborhood.

Fortunately for buyers, the Massachusetts sex offender registry is relatively easy to search. You just enter a last name, a city, county, or zip code, and a list of sex offenders in the area will pop up. In addition to their names, the registry also provides their address, a picture, and what crimes they were convicted of.

Those buying a home in Boston or anywhere in the state have a lot to think about when choosing a home. As the Massachusetts Megan's Law puts the onus on home buyers to check the sex offender registry, buyers with young children should not forget this important step.

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