Sex offender clusters impacting Va. neighborhoods

Posted at 12:04 PM, Oct 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-03 15:55:05-04
Virginia Sex Offender Registry

Virginia Sex Offender Registry

FARMVILLE, Va. (WTVR) – If you live near four or more registered sex offenders, you will have a more difficult time selling your home. In a published study, researchers at Longwood University found homes that sat within a quarter-mile of a “sex offender cluster” were on the market as much as 147 percent longer than other homes.

The longer a home stays on the market, the more pressure it puts on homeowners to drop the asking price.

“We wanted to know if sex offenders cluster and if that has an effect on home prices,” Dr. Ray Brastow, professor of economics, said. “The answer to both questions is yes.”

Dr. Ray Brastow and his colleagues used data from nearly 20,000 Virginia real listings between 1999 and 2009. The researchers said they focused the study on the Lynchburg area.

Their findings attributed the clustering of sex offenders to several factors:

Lower home prices. Lower prices draw more potential buyers, especially buyers less concerned about living near a sex offender — namely —  other registered sex offenders, the study found.

Development choices. Some neighborhoods have made choices that would prevent sex offenders from moving in.

“We know this is something that people talk about,” Brastow said. “There are certain places that sex offenders can’t live—near schools, daycare centers and parks, for example. Because of this, some neighborhoods are creating small parks, called ‘pocket parks,’ or fighting school closings.”

Living near (one-fourth of a mile) one, two or three registered sex offenders, researchers found, can impact home prices as those homes stay on the market nearly two months longer than the average house.

“However, with four sex offenders, the situation changes dramatically,” Dr. Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate, said. “Here we find the ‘tipping’ point, the number at which people get panicky and a neighborhood takes an economic turn for the worse.”

A search of the Virginia Sex Offender Registry on where offenders live and work yielded the following results:

  • Richmond = 972
  • Henrico = 325
  • Chesterfield = 288
  • Hanover = 97