2020 | Government

Marketing prohibition dropped from bill about school connections to real estate sales

Moon’s legislation now calls for a disclaimer instead

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The Montgomery County House delegation on Friday moved forward with a bill that would require home sale contracts include a sentence stating school boundaries are subject to change.

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Montgomery County’s House delegation on Friday gutted a proposed bill that would have prohibited real estate agents from advertising a home for sale based on its school assignment.

After a short discussion, the delegation struck most of the language from the bill which now says home buyers would be told that there are no guarantees for which schools children would attend.

Under the original draft bill proposed by Del. David Moon, a Democrat representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park, home buyers would have had to initial a document acknowledging they understand that school boundaries can change at any time. Moon’s bill would have prohibited agents from marketing a home as belonging to a certain school’s catchment area.

Montgomery County’s House delegation instead inserted an amendment that requires agents to add a sentence to home sale contracts disclosing that school boundaries can change at any time.

The changes were made after discussions between real estate agents and Moon.

Agents have since taken initiative to “ensure school information is included in almost all of the listings” and adjust online listing algorithms to flag terms and phrases “that might raise Fair Housing Act questions,” Moon said during a delegation meeting on Friday.

“We’re basically operating in good faith here, but that’s basically why I think the rest of the bill that’s attempting to regulate commercial speech is unnecessary, because we’ve had that conversation,” Moon said.

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, examining ways in which possible 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 are skeptical it will result in boundary changes causing longer bus rides for students and reject what they call a lack of transparency from school officials throughout the process.

The Montgomery County delegation unanimously agreed on Friday to support the amended bill. It will be submitted with the new language for consideration in the House.