Real estate professionals are often asked to perform many tasks for their clients. Such requests can include recommending inspectors, contractors, and even performing final walk through inspections. In what is an extremely competitive market, it would be nonsensical to suggest that any prudent real estate professional refuse to provide the best service they can. In many cases, providing such exemplary service may involve satisfying these requests. One should understand however, that in doing so, there is legal exposure involved. If your chosen roof inspector missed a leak, or that termite inspector missed termite damage, who might the buyer blame? If the buyer discovers drywall damage that you failed to discover when you performed the final walk through for them because they were on vacation, who will the buyer blame? These are not hypothetical examples, but actual problems that have occurred.
It would be impractical to suggest that any real estate professional stop providing these services. However, some helpful hints might reduce your legal exposure. First, it would be wise to make sure your clients understand that you are providing these services as a courtesy to them. Second, you cannot and should not vouch for any vendor that you might recommend. Third, if you agree to perform inspections for your clients, make sure that you understand what your clients are asking you to specifically inspect on their behalf. These suggestions might sound like common sense, but all too often, we take for granted that things will simply work out. Many times they do not, and when they do not, more often than one cares to realize, the real estate professional who went that extra mile gets blamed.
And if you really want to be careful, more and more real estate professionals are having their clients sign legal disclaimers concerning vendors and inspections. Your real estate closing attorney will be more than happy to provide you with a simple form, and we can assure you that when or if these issues arise (which they will), you will be happy that you secured a very simple written disclaimer up front.
As always should you have any questions about your legal liability in connection with assisting your clients with their inspections, please contact your real estate attorney.
This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.
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