Suppose you represent a seller who discloses to you that the neighbor who lives next door to the property engages in behavior that is so disruptive, it prompted the seller to decide to move. Perhaps the neighbor plays loud music at all hours of the night. Or, perhaps the neighbor speeds through the neighborhood in a manner that is highly dangerous. Maybe the neighbor makes a habit of depositing leaves, branches, and other debris onto the seller’s yard.   

Worse still, suppose your seller informs you that the neighbor has been convicted of a violent crime, has recently been released from prison, or is a registered sex offender. Obviously, no buyer wants to have to deal with any of these scenarios when it comes to their new neighbors. So, do you as the seller’s agent have an obligation to disclose any of these material adverse facts to prospective buyers?   

The answer for any and all of the aforementioned scenarios is no, you have no duty to disclose any bad facts about the neighbors no matter how bad those facts are. Virginia Code § 54.1-2131 imposes a duty on all real estate licensees to treat prospective buyers honestly and not give them false information. However, the duty to disclose information to them is limited to material adverse facts about the physical condition of the property which are actually known by the licensee. This means that, except as specifically provided for by law, most information pertaining to things beyond the boundaries of the property, including neighbors, does not need to be disclosed to prospective buyers. 

 So, not only is there not a duty to disclose bad facts about neighbors, disclosing such information may actually be contrary to the duties you owe to your seller-client to represent their best interests; sharing negative information about neighbors may make it more difficult for your seller to sell the property at the price they are seeking.