Md. lawmaker proposes bill prohibiting real estate agents from listing school district in ads

A Maryland lawmaker is proposing legislation that would bar real estate agents from using a home’s school assignment as part of the sales pitch.

Del. David Moon, who represents Montgomery County, is proposing the bill that he said would give homebuyers more information during the purchase process.

“There seems to be a lot of misinformation from homebuyers who think that the school assignment they had when they bought their house was a permanent one, or that it was in some way guaranteed,” he said.

Moon’s legislation comes as Montgomery County is in the process of a districtwide analysis of school boundaries and a proposed shift of school boundaries involving three school clusters: Seneca Valley High School, Clarksburg High School and Northwest High School.

Homeowners who live in areas undergoing boundary changes often say they bought their homes precisely because they wanted their children to go to a certain school.

“I’m hoping we might get to a point where we have homeowners a little bit more educated on this, and to really eliminate the element of surprise for them,” Moon said.

His proposed legislation would also add a disclosure statement that homebuyers would have to sign, acknowledging that they understand school boundaries could change.

“I’ve heard from kids who went through MCPS, went to one school, and were shifted midway through their school career to another one,” Moon said. And, he has also heard from homebuyers who bought their homes based on the belief that they would remain in a given school assignment area, only to see those boundaries change.

In an emailed statement, Koki Adasi, president of the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors or GCAAR, said, “Adding disclosures, especially on an issue as important as schools, to the purchase of a home should not be taken without an active dialogue with the realtors who serve the community.”

In addition, the organization said it is always ready to work with elected officials to evaluate legislation that is in the best interest of the community.

Moon said there is skepticism from real estate agents about his proposal.

“This is a work-in progress. My dad is a Realtor, too. So, I’m going to be talking to more and more Realtors to gain some input on this,” he said.

Zillow, the online real estate site, includes the names of “nearby” schools in its home listings, but it also includes the following language: “This data may not be complete. We recommend contacting the local school district to confirm school assignments for this home.”

A Zillow spokesperson said the site has been including similar language for years.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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