This issue arises occasionally on the hotline and some MLS systems allow home inspectors to engage in the MLS and hold an MLS lockbox e-key which solves practical access issues.
Listing agents should warn sellers to secure their property for showings and inspections. Strangers will enter the property. Secure valuables, information, weapons, prescription drugs, alcohol, children, pets/animals, clothing, food, sentimental items, and any slip/fall/bump/injury dangers.
Sellers may install security systems but should not install cameras in areas where reasonable people may assume privacy (e.g., restrooms).
Buyers and buyer licensees and inspectors should always assume surveillance and act appropriately.
The seller agrees in the SCR310 to provide reasonable access for inspections, so the seller or the seller’s agent can unlock the house for the home inspector when the home inspector does not have key access. Alternatively and commonly, the buyer’s licensee can coordinate with the listing licensee to provide access for an inspector.
Perhaps, the buyer’s licensee uses their MLS e-key to provide access for the inspector. For security reasons, the buyer’s licensee probably should be on-premises during the inspection without following the inspector and overstepping their license duties and arguably acquiring actual knowledge of property defects which could potentially create disclosure and legal liability for themselves and their brokerage.
After the inspection, the buyer’s licensee can re-secure the property (e.g., check door locks, check window locks, check stove/oven/lights, check faucets, pet issues, HVAC, gates).
On the hotline, there have been some upset sellers and listing licensees who discover the buyer’s agent opened the front door and then drove away leaving the buyers and/or home inspector on-premises alone or worse yet, the buyers and/or inspector completes the inspection then leaves the lights on and the doors unlocked/open where the pets could run away or burglars enter.
REALTORS® have an ethical duty to only allow access/use on the terms/conditions of the owner/seller.
Standard of Practice 1-16
REALTORS® shall not access or use, or permit or enable others to access or use, listed or managed property on terms or conditions other than those authorized by the owner or seller. (Adopted 1/12)
NAR Pathways to Professionalism:
4. Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
9. INSPECTION/REINSPECTION RIGHTS: Buyer and SC licensed and insured inspectors (“Inspectors”) reasonably perform any reasonable ultimately non-destructive examination and make reasonable record of the Property with reasonable Notice to Seller through Closing including investigations of off-site conditions and any issues related to the Property at Buyer Expense (“Inspections”). Buyer and persons they choose may make reasonable visual observations of Property. Sellers will make the Property accessible for Inspection and not unreasonably withhold access, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Parties. Seller will grant the Buyer the right to perform a final walkthrough inspection of the property within 48 hours prior to the closing date. Seller will keep all utilities operational through Closing unless otherwise agreed: Seller grants Buyer permission to connect utilities, pay for utilities, and hire professionals (e.g. electricians, plumbers) to safely connect and operate the utilities during the Inspections Other see attached. Buyer will hold harmless, indemnify, pay damages and attorneys fees to Seller and Brokers for all claims, injuries, and damages arising out of the exercise of these inspection rights. Seller will hold harmless, indemnify, pay damages and attorneys fees to Brokers for all claims, injuries, and damages arising out of the exercise of these inspection rights. Brokers recommend that Parties obtain all inspections as soon as possible. Brokers recommend that Parties and Inspectors use insurance to manage risk.
Posted by: Byron King on 10/21/20 (This information is only accurate as of 10/21/20. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 10/21/20 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email Byron)