With a ban on all open homes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some real estate agents are offering up creative solutions to showcase homes to buyers via Facebook Live, Zoom conferencing, and Google Hangout. But what can agents do to manage the risks that arise from hosting these virtual open homes?
Our Property Team are recommending that agents consider adding an appropriate disclaimer wherever possible, such as on their online property ads.
As an agent, you want to disclaim that:
- While you will make reasonable efforts to show as much of the property as possible, you cannot show all parts of the property within the allotted time for the virtual open home. In most cases, you will only be able to show the main features of the property. A prospective purchaser should notify you if they want to view a part of the property that is not a main feature of the property or is otherwise not shown during the virtual open home e.g. ceilings, roof cavity, under the house, areas obstructed by furniture etc.
- While no video filters have been used, the device capturing the video may nevertheless distort the colours in the video and therefore you cannot guarantee the accuracy of the colours shown in the video.
- You are not responsible for reporting on any unpleasant smells at the property (unless the odour is so bad that it could be sufficiently significant to influence the decision on whether to buy or otherwise constitutes a material fact e.g. if it relates to a significant health or safety risk).
- You encourage prospective buyers to undertake their own investigations and obtain a pest and building inspection report.
- If a floor plan is provided, it is for the purpose of showing the layout of the property only and any distances or dimensions shown are estimates. If a prospective buyer requires some part of the property to be of a certain length, height, width or area for their intended use of the property, they should contact you or their preferred building inspector to obtain an accurate measurement.
- The virtual open home may be recorded for record-keeping purposes (we recommend this as a smart and simple risk management measure).
These disclaimers should be clearly set out and in the same font and size as any other print.
If you have any commercial or business clients who require our support, please have them contact us. Our goal is to support and assist as many businesses as possible to get through this crisis, and to help rebuild them once it passes, however long that takes.
How we are helping businesses:
Phone advice - As part of our ongoing support to business, we are offering telephone advice on a wide range of issues, from employment law, leasing and contract disputes, and assisting with Estate planning.
Legal Health Checks - We are also offering our free legal health checks, which at this time provides an opportunity to pause, reflect and refocus on the business. Our team are already starting to have these conversations with our clients, and are encouraging all other businesses to reach out if they need our support.
Stay safe, and as always, for you and for your clients, we're here to help on 1800 650 656.
Aaron Strickland | Solicitor