Are you a real estate licensee trying to sell a home with a diving board? While pools and spas are a common property feature, diving boards are not as common in today’s property market. Why? Mostly because diving has the potential to cause serious injury. These days, property seekers are looking for safe ways to enjoy family fun around the pool. And diving boards have somewhat of a reputation as a safety hazard.
The Consequences of a Diving Injury
Diving was the main cause of spinal injuries for people participating in sport and recreation between 2010-2018, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center. The rate of spinal injuries from diving was found to be much higher than snow skiing and winter sports, horseback riding, gymnastics, rodeo, auto racing and bungee jumping. The consequences of a bad dive can be very serious and potentially life-changing.
Managing Risk as a Real Estate Licensee
Diving boards were on trend just a few decades ago, so it’s likely you’ll come across a property with a diving board — especially if you’re in California. To keep your clients safe and to avoid a future lawsuit, here are some tips to manage the risks when selling a home with a diving board:
Obtain information from the seller about the diving board
While a diving board may have been built to code two decades ago, it might not meet the required standards today. Ask when the diving board was installed, if it was professionally installed, what pool depth it’s suitable for, and if there are any defects, maintenance issues or safety concerns. The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals website shows the latest information about the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code. This is a useful guide, but be aware that pool regulations vary from state to state. Your buyers and sellers should contact their state regulator to check what standards apply to them in their particular location.
Remember your duty to disclose any potential risks
Licensees are not expected to arrange an inspection of the diving board. However, if you spot a problem with the diving board when you visually inspect the property, you must disclose these potential risks. For example, you may notice during your walkthrough of the property that the diving board is not adequately secured to the side of the pool. This could indicate a lack of maintenance, and it’s a hazard that could potentially cause injury. As such, this should be disclosed. Or, maybe you notice that the owner slips on the diving board while showing you the pool — this might also be cause for concern if the surface is slippery and unsafe.
Encourage buyers to do an independent inspection
Be careful not to oversell the benefits of the diving board. Encourage buyers to do an independent inspection of the pool and diving board to ensure everything meets the required standard and is safe for use. You cannot adequately assess the condition of the diving board as a real estate professional, so advise the buyer to speak to an expert. To minimize your liability, it’s important that you don’t arrange this inspection and that you don’t refer them to a particular contractor. If you do, you’re vulnerable to a lawsuit, if the buyer has a diving board accident in the future.
Buyers should also be encouraged to seek insurance advice from their home insurer, because diving boards may mean a higher insurance premium.
Caution sellers (and buyers) to be wary of an empty pool
Having an empty pool and a diving board during an Open House could be potentially dangerous. For example, if a prospective buyer decides to walk on the diving board and falls, they could seriously injure themselves or even worse, die. Caution your sellers about the risks of an empty pool. If it cannot be avoided, ensure that access to the pool and diving board area is limited for safety reasons and appropriate safety warnings are in place.
Jacques Jacobs vs Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company
In 2014, a California homebuyer, Jacques Jacobs, stepped onto a diving board at a property he was interested in purchasing. The diving board collapsed and Jacobs fell into an empty pool. Mr Jacobs was seriously injured and sued the broker for negligence.
Previous to this, the licensee had visually inspected the diving board and did not identify any issues, though she did note the potential hazard of an empty pool. Following the visual inspection, the licensee had a contractor inspect the diving board to provide details of any necessary repairs. The contractor’s report did not contain any concerns.
Ultimately, the broker won this case as they did not ask the buyer to stand on the diving board, and the licensee warned potential buyers to use caution around the empty pool in the property’s MLS listing. However, this case should serve as a cautionary tale to real estate professionals selling homes with diving boards (and/or empty pools).
Protect Yourself Against Lawsuits
CRES offers tailored real estate E&O Insurance with optional inclusions to suit your specific needs. Having the right insurance coverage will help you minimize your liability and protect yourself from potential lawsuits. With CRES E&O + ClaimPrevent®, you can also contact our qualified team of attorneys. They are available 7 days a week, so you can minimize risk in your real estate business.
Contact CRES at 800-880-2747 today.