You’re now considering putting your home on the market. You have done some painting, spruced up the interior and exterior and everything appears to look superb. However, many have forgotten one thing; the potential hazards that may exist inside and outside your home.
One must walk around your home to see if there are any possible areas where someone could trip, fall, break a leg, etc. whether it is a purchaser, agent, home inspector or appraiser, or even a friend or neighbor. The United States is the most litigious country on the globe and lawsuits are commonplace, especially today with all that is going on in the world.
There have been so many lawsuits due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses like cruise lines and nursing homes, for example, have had to be extremely careful with their safety and hygiene issues to keep their clients free from diseases and exposure to Covid-19. This has been a taxing and challenging situation for all businesses and the costs have had a tremendous impact on the bottom line to keep people safe and healthy.
Businesses have a legal duty to keep their premises cleaned regularly, sanitary and safe for the public. Product safety has been and is a major concern and must be kept up to date so as not to pose an unreasonable risk to users. When using products, proper instructions must always be provided and adhered to for the safety of the public.
I would suggest that you should walk around your home to see what hazards exist, as you also are liable for anyone coming into your home who might get hurt or worse even if you note “enter at your own risk.” Toys, small objects on the floor, sharp corners, slippery floors, loose carpeting, or anything else that might cause harm to a visitor should be addressed and alleviated, especially when starting the showings of your home for sale.
Once you have rectified any issues inside your home, then take a stroll around the exterior of your property to see what hazards might exist to cause future issues and potential lawsuits. Most important are your sidewalks and front and rear walkways. Is the cement, slate, or pavers level on your sidewalks level? Are there any slabs that would cause anyone to trip and fall, potentially breaking a leg, or arm, or worse hitting their head, causing them to have a concussion?
This is your responsibility (not your local village or town) to make sure you protect the public from irreparable harm and injury. You should make sure that your homeowner’s insurance provides adequate coverage in the event of a claim. I always suggest to my seller clients to have an umbrella policy, over and above their normal homeowner’s insurance, to provide higher limits of coverage, especially if you have assets and substantial income for greater protection from potential lawsuits.
Many years ago, my first home was on North Road in Great Neck. We lived there for eight years and decided to sell. I was working in my other business and was not home when showings were scheduled. One day an agent came in with a client to show and the agent stubbed her toe on our bricked area where our wood-burning stove was located in our living room. Unfortunately, she broke her toe and initiated a lawsuit.
Our insurance covered the issue and things were settled. But since then, we have carried an umbrella policy because as one’s assets and income grow, one needs to carry enough insurance to be protected. One never knows who may come onto your property and what they do for a living and/or their income. What if a surgeon, CEO, CFO, or any high-end individual comes onto your property and has an unfortunate accident due to negligence on your part in keeping your residence safe for the public. They can’t work for an extended period of time or much worse die, your liability becomes a major problem and the costs inherent in a lawsuit.
No one wants anyone to be hurt, but in today’s world, things happen and the only way to minimize and avoid major or even minor issues is to make your property as bulletproof as possible from any and all liabilities. Most important is that insurance costs have risen dramatically over the last few years, especially if you are in a flood zone area.
Check and see what you need to do before the next major storm or hurricane hits to make your home is more sound, leak, and waterproof, by making sure the grade of your property is slanted away from your foundation. Check out whether the roof is in excellent condition. Windows need to be caulked and sealed properly. Gutters and leaders should be free of debris, especially going into the fall, when leaves begin falling, so water doesn’t back up into your soffits, causing water damage inside your walls and home.
Before listing your property for sale or even if you aren’t considering selling, survey your residence to determine if there are any hazards to you or the public that might cause harm and injury to anyone or increase your exposure to greater insurance costs. Replace, fix, and repair those issues that you may see so your coverage will not have to be used.
Lastly, you might even consider having a home inspector check out your home from top to bottom to be sure about what is right and wrong with your place, especially if it is more than 20 years old. It will be the wisest and best spent money that you will make.
Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck. He has 42+ years of experience in the Real Estate industry and has earned designations as a Graduate of the Realtor Institute (G.R.I.) and also as a Certified International Property Specialist (C.I.P.S) as well as the new “Green Industry” Certification for eco-friendly construction and upgrades. For a “FREE” 15-minute consultation, value analysis of your home, or to answer any of your questions or concerns he can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: Phil@TurnKeyRealEstate.com or via https://WWW.Li-RealEstate.Com