South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Realtors Do Not Have a General Duty to Warn Clients of Defects on Real Estate
Description

Appeals court held that a real estate agency had no duty to warn a client of defects that existed in a home under construction that was being shown. The realtor has a duty to warn of dangers of which the realtor is aware, but not of all possible dangers that exist.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Duty to Warn; Defects; Control

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

McColly Realtors had been hired to sell a home under construction. Real estate agent Capellari was showing a client, Masick, the house. Work was being done at the time by Saxon Drywall and temporary steps had been installed. A worker told Capellari to be careful; Masick was in the room when the worker gave the warning. Later, in another room, Masick stepped on a temporary step, it collapsed and she fell. She sued McColly and Saxon for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants. Masick appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. A real estate broker who lacks control over property doe not owe a duty to warn. A brokerage firm does not assume a duty to warn clients of all possible defects, only latent defects the broker is aware of. There is no duty for an agent to inspect property for all possible defects before clients are shown the property. The contractor could be liable in such a situation, as the contractor has control of the property. Saxon did not install the temporary steps and was not in control of the property. A general warning to Masick had been given by the workers.

Citation

Masick v. McColly Realtors, --- N.E.2d --- (2006 WL 3759323, Ct. App., Ind., 2006)

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