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November 2011 AIRPORT Cooperative Research Program Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration Responsible Senior Program Officer: Gwen Chisholm Smith Legal Research Digest 12 fair disclosure and airport impact statements in real estate transfers This report was prepared under ACRP Project 11-01, "Legal Aspects of Airport Programs," for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. The report was prepared by Larry W. Thomas, Attorney at Law, Washington, DC. James B. McDaniel, TRB Counsel for Legal Research Projects, was the principal investigator and content editor. Background There are over 4,000 airports in the country and most of based on the lack of disclosure of airport noise and opera- these airports are owned by governments. A 2003 survey tions. In some cases, the adoption of fair disclosure laws conducted by Airports Council InternationalNorth Amer- that include the disclosure of the potential impacts of avia- ica concluded that city ownership accounts for 38 percent, tion operations has been impeded by the fear of some followed by regional airports at 25 percent, single county homeowners, local officials, and representatives of the at 17 percent, and multi-jurisdictional at 9 percent. Pri- real estate industry that such disclosure may provide an mary legal services to these airports are, in most cases, exaggerated impression of the significance of aviation- provided by municipal, county, and state attorneys. related impacts and thereby impair property values. Pro- Reports and summaries produced by the Airport Con- ponents of such disclosure laws maintain that the real tinuing Legal Studies Project and published as ACRP Legal estate market takes account of any aviation-related im- Research Digests are developed to assist these attorneys pacts regardless of fair disclosure laws. Still others assert seeking to deal with the myriad of legal problems encoun- that existing fair disclosure laws are necessary to address tered during airport development and operations. Such sub- issues that arise regarding the disclosure of airport noise stantive areas as eminent domain, environmental concerns, and operations in the area where a home is purchased. leasing, contracting, security, insurance, civil rights, and This digest examines the effect of a state or locality tort liability present cutting-edge legal issues where re- having no real property disclosure laws, existing general search is useful and indeed needed. Airport legal research, state real property disclosure laws, and existing state real when conducted through the TRB's legal studies process, property disclosure laws specifically requiring the dis- either collects primary data that usually are not available closure of airports in close proximity to the property being elsewhere or performs analysis of existing literature. offered for sale. After identifying and analyzing state real property disclosure laws specifically requiring the Applications disclosure of airports, annotated typical fair real property disclosure law provisions have been included. The latter The purpose of fair disclosure laws is to provide prospec- includes provisions essential for effective fair disclosure tive home buyers with sufficient information to make of airport-related impacts. informed decisions about the purchase of property. Air- This digest should be useful to airport and real estate port operators are particularly interested that home buyers attorneys, administrators, risk managers, financial officials, obtain information about the noise and flight paths associ- state and local policy officials, community and civic asso- ated with airport operations before prospective buyers ciation members, realtors, real estate boards and commis- make decisions about purchasing property located near an sions, and to all persons interested in the full disclosure of airport. In too many cases property is purchased near air- information that could impact the purchaser(s) of real ports without full disclosure of the nature of airport opera- property in close proximity to an airport. tions and thus there is the potential for purchaser remorse TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES