Are You Liable for Missing Items During a Showing?

August 2, 2019

Real estate agents and brokers have so much on their plate when they’re trying to sell a property. From finding the right buyer to helping out their client to getting a sale done in a timely manner, a lot of a broker or agent’s overall customer satisfaction and career rides on a sale that has little to no hitches.

But what about something as seemingly overlooked as theft at a showing? Think about it: there are plenty of people coming and going during a showing and there are potentially many valuable items that other people may want. You can’t have your eye on everyone at all times, so what happens when a theft, no matter how small, happens?

Lawsuits have been made against real estate agents and brokers for this very issue. With this in mind, it’s important to understand who’s at fault and what can be done if a theft of any size or kind happens during a showing.

If a Theft is Reported

When a homeowner reaches out to let you know that something was taken from their residence, the first thing to do is make a list of all other agents and brokers who have shown the home. It’s important to cover all the bases here and be sure it didn’t happen on your watch.

The next thing to do is know to not freak out. Issues like this are unfortunately common and items such as jewelry and prescription medicine and small electronics are the main items that get taken. And even though claims have been made against real estate professionals, you are not a security guard for someone else’s items.

If a real estate broker or agent is found to have aided in the theft in any way, from purposely overlooking a theft or taking something themselves, then they are obviously in direct fault. But for agents and brokers who are unaware of the issue at hand, they can find themselves in an uncomfortable, but not career-threatening situation.

Even if the issue isn’t the fault of a real estate professional, it’s important to have the right kind of liability insurance to be protected in this situation. Even being mentioned in the same sentence as this kind of problem can lead to distrust among potential homebuyers and sellers in the market.

What’s more, the first cut is always the deepest, so if a theft does happen and someone makes a claim, it’s a good lesson to learn and go through. This may be a teachable moment to be a little more diligent about keeping an eye on potential buyers or guests who come in. Take down their names, phone numbers, and be sure to spread yourself around the property to not only answer questions and provide information but also keep an extra eye on things. Just being present can deter someone from feeling up to stealing anything.

About Associations Liability Insurance Agency (ALIA)

The ALIA Team (part of the Riverton Insurance Agency Corporation), specializes in helping real estate professionals find the affordable and comprehensive liability insurance they need, without the hassle. ALIA dates its roots to 1991 with the founding of FREA, Foundation of Real Estate Associates. In 2013, ALIA was created to work with multiple insurance companies thereby broadening the portfolio of products to customers. For more information about our products and services, contact us today at (800) 882-4410.