A Montgomery County delegate has proposed legislation that would prohibit real estate agents from advertising a home for sale based on its school assignment.
The bill, introduced by Del. David Moon, would require home buyers to initial a document acknowledging they understand school boundaries can change at any time. It also would prohibit agents from using advertising that markets a house as belonging to a certain school’s catchment area.
“The bill is really, really simple,” Moon said in an interview Friday afternoon. “All it does is remind residents of Montgomery County who are purchasing a home that their home does not guarantee an assignment to a specific school. People jumped immediately into the substance of what school boundaries should look like, but this bill does not suggest at all what that should look like.”
In Montgomery County, students attend certain schools based on “boundaries” made by the school board.
The school board has undertaken a comprehensive, countywide review of school boundaries, searching for areas in which changes could reduce crowding or increase racial and socioeconomic diversity.
The analysis — which will not require the school board to make any boundary changes — has caused a rift throughout the county. Some residents applaud the board’s initiative, while others fear any changes would force students to take longer bus rides or impact their home values.
Moon said Montgomery County Public Schools does not have the authority over laws related to real estate transactions or truth in advertising, so it is lawmakers’ job to address such issues, not the school board’s.
Moon said the “heart” of his bill is the addendum home buyers would have to sign to acknowledge school boundaries could change. He said he hasn’t seen schools being marketed as a major selling point of a home, so he is “flexible” about how the wording of what has to be signed.
“There’s a ban on knowingly concealing material facts in advertising, and I would argue this is an example of (a material fact),” Moon said of the possibility school boundaries could change. “To the extent there’s any lack of clarity in that, this bill hopes to resolve that.”
Moon has drafted his bill, which only would apply to Montgomery County, as possibly sponsored by the Montgomery County delegation. The bill will be considered in the next Maryland General Assembly session, which begins in January.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org