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Rod Dunn
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As a real estate agent, I deal with many professionals, from other realtors, to brokers, to appraisers, to home inspectors. In my many years in the business, I have yet to meet a person with as much integrity and business ethics as Rod Dunn ...More
    ~ Michelle Perales, Licensed Realtor

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San Antonio Home Inspections - A Note to Realtors from a Texas Home Inspector
clear How Agents Can Limit Their Liability with Regard to Home Inspections

     In a world where litigation is the preferred method of resolving even the most minor conflicts, it should come as no surprise to real estate agents that they are increasingly finding themselves named as defendants in lawsuits, wherein purchasers of residential real estate are claiming damages, as the result of the alleged fraud and/or negligence of one or more of the participants in the transaction.

     Aggrieved purchasers of residential real estate are operating in a target-rich environment and have a remarkable array of potentially responsible parties from which to seek financial redress for their claimed grievances. In lawsuit after lawsuit, one finds multiple defendants: the sellers, the sellers' agent, the sellers' agent's broker, the buyers' agent, the buyers' agent's broker, the home inspector, the pest inspector and so on; multiple counts: fraud, negligence, breach of contract; and, generally, hundreds of allegations against the various defendants.

Once a Lawsuit Has Been Filed ...
     Once a lawsuit has been filed and you have been named as a defendant you can kiss your E & O deductible goodbye. Even if you are blameless, which in the majority of instances you are, because the overwhelming majority of these types of lawsuits are completely devoid of merit. The size of these complaints and the sheer number of their allegations guarantees it. No competent lawyer could possible read and respond to the vastly overblown pleadings that normally characterize these types of lawsuits for anything close to the typical real estate agent's E & O deductible.

     Therefore, the best strategy is to avoid being named in the suit in the first place. Fortunately, there are a number of effective policies that, if followed, can sharply reduce and even eliminate your exposure to being named in a meritless lawsuit.

     Lawsuits resulting from a residential real estate transaction almost always result from a feeling on the buyers' part that they got less than they bargained for. After they moved into the property, they discovered that it was not all that it was cracked up to be. Sometimes the alleged defects were present at the time of the home inspection, but for one reason or another were not discovered by the home inspection. The fact that the alleged defects were not discovered by the home inspector does not automatically mean that the home inspector was negligent or that you were negligent for recommending the inspector. Far from it.

Why Didn't the Inspector Find the Defect?
     There could be a large number of reasons why the alleged defect was not discovered at the inspection that fall well short of actionable negligence. The defect could be something that is not discovered because its inspection is simply not contemplated by the home inspector, such as a determination of the adequacy of any structural system or component, for example. Such a determination is outside the scope of a home inspection. Or it could be something that is not reported because it was concealed by furniture on the day of the inspection or was located in an area that was inaccessible. Not infrequently, known defects are deliberately concealed by the sellers. Far more frequently than anyone would imagine, the alleged defect that is the subject of the buyers' complaint was actually discovered by the home inspector, noted in the inspection report and not acted upon by the buyers because they did not bother to read the inspection report.

     Therefore, when selecting a home inspector for your client, you should bear uppermost in your mind that the home inspector is your first line of defense against a meritless negligence claim.


by Joe Ferry, Esquire and Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI Founder


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