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Listing Agent Liability for Accidents on the Property

It's essential to understand the legal implications and liabilities for real estate agents who have listed properties.

Real estate agents can be held liable for accidents that occur on the properties they have listed. However, there are steps that real estate agents can take to limit their liability and protect themselves from legal action.

DeSousa v. Iowa Realty Co.

One case that provides insight into the liability of real estate agents is DeSousa v. Iowa Realty Co. In this case, the plaintiff, DeSousa, was touring a home with her real estate agent that was listed by Iowa Realty Co. During the tour, DeSousa slipped and fell on a patch of ice on the driveway, injuring her ankle. DeSousa claimed that Iowa Realty Co. was negligent in failing to warn her about the icy conditions.

The court found that Iowa Realty Co. was not liable for DeSousa's injuries. The court determined that Iowa Realty Co. had no duty to warn DeSousa of the icy conditions because the conditions were open and obvious. The court held that it was DeSousa's responsibility to watch where she was going and to take appropriate precautions to avoid slipping on the ice.

Ways to Limit Liability

The DeSousa case illustrates the importance of taking steps to limit liability for accidents on listed properties. Real estate agents can take the following steps to protect themselves:

  1. Conduct Regular Inspections: Real estate agents should inspect the properties they have listed regularly. They should be on the lookout for potential hazards such as uneven flooring, loose carpeting, or other dangers that could cause slip-and-fall accidents.

  2. Warn Potential Buyers: Real estate agents should inform potential buyers of any hazards that they are aware of. This includes informing buyers of any areas that may be slippery or hazardous. By warning potential buyers of potential hazards, real estate agents can protect themselves from liability.

  3. Document Hazards: Real estate agents should document any hazards that they find during inspections. This includes taking photographs of any potential hazards and documenting the steps taken to correct the hazard.

  4. Have Buyers Sign a Waiver: Real estate agents can have potential buyers sign an attorney-drafted waiver before entering the property which is particularly hazardous. The waiver should include language that explains the potential hazards on the property and the steps the buyer should take to protect themselves from injury.

By taking these steps, real estate agents can protect themselves from legal action and limit their liability for accidents that occur on properties they have listed. The DeSousa case highlights the importance of being proactive in identifying potential hazards and taking appropriate steps to protect buyers from harm.

Have you ever been held liable for an incident that occurred at a property you had listed? Leave a comment below or discuss with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions or concerns, please consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.


DeSousa v. Iowa Realty Co., 831 N.W.2d 245 (Iowa 2013).

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