June 01, 2017

The Use of Genetic Information in Real Property Transactions

Mark A. Rothstein and Laura Rothstein

Reprinted with permission from Probate and Property Magazine, May/June 2017 (31:3), at 13–16. ©2017 by the American Bar Association. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any or portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

With the cost of genome sequencing continuing to decline and genomic information becoming more common in health records, it is foreseeable that entities with an economic interest in the future health status of individuals will be tempted to use predictive genetic information to assess the health risks of individuals who are parties to real property transactions. Thus, mortgage lenders, mortgage insurers, real estate sellers, senior living centers, retirement communities, and other entities involved in residential property might begin requiring genetic information as part of the application process. This article considers whether the use of genetic information in housing is lawful under federal and state laws. It also considers the ethical and policy issues raised by the acquisition and use of predictive genetic information in residential property transactions. A more extensive treatment of this topic by the authors can be found in Mark A. Rothstein & Laura Rothstein, How Genetics Might Affect Real Property Rights, 44 J.L. Med. & Ethics 216 (2016).

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