As north Texas communities focus on how to limit where registered sex offenders live, experts say the issue has the potential to alter the real estate market, reports the Dallas Morning News. A West Texas investment group is building sex offender-free subdivisions in Lubbock and Lenexa, Ks., with plans for the Dallas area. Last month, an Addison, Tx., entrepreneur started a Web site that allows home shoppers to plug in an address and see how many offenders live nearby.
A sex offender’s presence in the neighborhood has become another key factor in the home-buying equation – much like school test scores and crime rates. “People’s fear of living in close proximity to a sex offender is large enough that it actually influences their decisions when it comes to how much to pay for a home and where to live,” said Leigh Linden, a Columbia University economist. Linden’s research has shown that nearby home values drop 4 percent when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood. Lubbock-based I&S Investment Group is marketing a sex-offender-free subdivision that requires criminal background checks for homeowners. “We’re not trying to play off the fear of people, but what we are saying is that we can come in and provide quite a bit more of a safe environment,” said co-owner Clayton Isom, 24. “It provides people with a lot more comfort level.”