Showing Agent Falls In Kitchen... SUES SELLER. Can you do that?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

Of course you can sue the seller. As the saying goes, "you can sue a ham sandwich." 

I won't get into specifics, but an agent I met yesterday told me (several years ago) while she was showing a house, she fell down, broke both of her legs, and ultimately "sued the seller." Her financial settlement took 2 years and was more than 3 times what the home she was showing was worth. To this day she has back problems. 

She didn't slip in the kitchen, but it does bring up the question: "Is the seller responsible for home safety while the property is being shown?" 


My simple response is...  YES!


The seller has invited the public into their house. In fact, they've all but SHOUTED: "PLEASE COME IN!" Realtors, buyers, inspectors, children, handicapped individuals, appraisers and even people who don't speak English will enter the property. If you have a huge hole in your backyard that someone trips in it, you could be liable. If they fall down the stairs because your carpet is torn, you could be found liable. The risks are real and they are there. It's important for home sellers to realize that the listing brokerage doesn't carry an umbrella policy for their listings. In reality, the outcome is your home owners insurance is simply... up for grabs. What if your dog bites someone? 

We talk a lot about staging, marketing, pricing and proceeds, but not enough of us talk enough about safety! Last week I showed a home on a "private lake." Out back we found 3 snakes slithering around in the "high grass" in the backyard. What if my buyers child had gotten bit by a snake? Could the seller have been found negligent because her grass was almost waist high? Is it her fault the buyers let their child take off running through the yard?

Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)




The information contained in this blog is believed to be reliable and while every effort is made to assure that the information is as accurate as possible, the author of this blog, and its comments disclaim any implied warranty or representation about it's accuracy, completeness or appropriateness for any particular purpose. All information is copywritten and the property of Greg Nino.  






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  1. Lise Howe 08/09/2016 11:00 PM
Real Estate Best Practices

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Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

There are many dangers lurking in all kinds of houses. I know a realtor whose foot went through a rotten foreclosure floor.

May 14, 2016 04:29 AM #40
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Great post to get me thinking. While I've (thankfully) not experienced any injuries (either my own or my clients) while showing properties, you've given all of us something to ponder. I did have a seller recently who had scatter rugs everywhere (to "protect" her carpet, and also to hide some stains). I asked her to remove them since they were trip hazards. And, of course, didn't want potential buyers to think she was hiding anything. Fortunately, her reply was "good point" and she removed them.

May 14, 2016 04:56 AM #41
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I've fallen at showings. Fortunately, no serious injuries. I agree. The sellers gave their permission to enter and are legally responsible in an injury is suffered.

May 14, 2016 06:04 AM #42
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I have fallen.  But I'm not going to sue anyone unless the injury were to be serious and I honestly believe it was something the seller had knowledge that I would get hurt and did nothing to warn me.  

May 14, 2016 06:10 AM #43
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I love the post. I have never asked sellers if they have liability insurance but may need to . 

May 14, 2016 09:33 PM #44
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I'm gonna have to wear my slipperiest shoes when I'm showing higher priced homes and practice my flopping technique !

May 15, 2016 12:19 AM #45
Greg Nino
RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP - Houston, TX
Houston, Texas

HaHa, Michael.

May 15, 2016 02:02 AM #46
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Greg!  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites!

May 15, 2016 03:01 AM #47
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

I think it's wise to warn sellers to make sure their home liability insurance covers them prior to listing. Too bad there isn't a form that carries a liablity clause to protect all parties - seems like a sue-happy buyer could sure cause trouble. 

May 15, 2016 03:23 AM #48
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Life surely is risky! Fortunately my sellers (and me) haven't experienced anything major...yet.

May 15, 2016 03:47 AM #49
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

While I am a big advocate of personal responsibility and not being stupid, your point is well taken. We live in a litigious society, where it is require often seen as someone else's fault - whether or not it is or should be is irrelevant. Sellers need to protect themselves. 

May 15, 2016 04:29 AM #50
Mimi Foster
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

I went to set a showing this week. The Showing company said, "There will be dogs in the house. They've never bitten anyone before, but don't approach them too quickly." Who does that?? (My buyer opted not to see it)

Timely topic.

May 15, 2016 12:25 PM #51
Richard and Jean Murphy
Harborview Properties - Portland, ME
(207) 712-4796

If I had a dollar for every time I hit my head on a low pipe in a basement, I would be a Thousandaire...

May 15, 2016 07:30 PM #52
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I have never thought about this but it's true!  Personally I would not sue a seller but I can understand that others would. I think about wintertime with snow and ice on the property...that's an easy fall for sure.

May 16, 2016 12:26 AM #53
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I guess caveat emptor does not apply to slip/fall, dog bites and dumb people!

May 16, 2016 02:01 AM #54
Theresa Akin

i warn people about scatter rugs.

May 16, 2016 04:52 AM #55
Peter Tamura
Coldwell Banker Select - Tulsa, OK

That is just an unfortunate reminder of the bullets we dodge every day. Thanks Greg, you gave me one more thing to worry about!!

May 16, 2016 08:44 AM #56
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post! Another list of things to talk about during a listing presentation!

May 18, 2016 01:49 PM #57
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Liability is a never ending problem, it must have been a pretty severe accident here though to break both legs.

May 18, 2016 02:30 PM #58
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

That's right, anyone who is on your property who gets hurt can see you but it's your liability insurance that must be in place. I just recently had the first seller ask me about this. I explained that that was what her insurance was for because she has children and birthday parties and friends coming to the house. Besides agents and buyers in the house, anyone who enters it, if they get hurt, can sue. But, I'd be concerned to bring this up in a listing presentation only to alarm the sellers. I think a liability form is a great idea however; it would cut out some of the showings. Not just because buyers would think twice about viewing the home but they just simply wouldn't want to take time for this extra step while they're in a rush (and nobody else is doing it). I am going to talk to my Principal Broker. This might be something that the company would consider for all listings.

May 26, 2016 07:38 AM #59
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Greg Nino

Houston, Texas
Providing Real Estate Advice 7 days a week!
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