AVID formThe Agent’s Visual Inspection Disclosure (AVID) is an often misunderstood form, according to the transaction coordinators at Transaction 911. Because of this, we went out and conducted a little bit of research.

Here’s some advice from CRES Insurance Services with respect to two major concerns about the AVID form.

Concern: Some REO Sellers and their Listing Agents seem to adopt a pretty stern approach to the sale calling the shots, and telling everyone how the world works. This is reality. This is also dangerous.

Advice: Here are some pitfalls to avoid: “My Seller is not required to supply a Transfer Disclosure Statement and so as the Agent (since that is exempt), I do not have to complete the Agent’s Visual Inspection portion of the TDS and therefore, I do not have to provide a written visual inspection.”

This is wrong! Every Listing Agent and Selling Agent of residential properties (1-4 units) is required to perform a reasonably competent and diligent visual inspection of accessible areas of the property offered for sale and to disclose in writing their findings of material items. Just because the REO Seller is TDS exempt does not change the disclosure law for either Agent.

Solution:  Usage of the Agent’s Visual Inspection form or similar documentation can satisfy this requirement. Also, describe what you see but never provide the cause. Real Estate Licensees are not Engineers or General Contractors; they have no place stating something like “normal settling” or normal cracking” Say what you see but never why it is there.

Avoid the temptation to use a silver bullet phrase such as “Agent recommends that Buyer obtain Physical Inspection. That does nothing to show that you preformed your own visual inspection and is included in numerous other documents such as the Buyer’s Inspection Advisory.

Additionally, the disclosure should be specific to the Property. It is not a continuation of the advertising talking about lovely views, hand crafted finish and so forth. It should point out negative aspects such as stains in carpet, stains on ceilings, chipped paint, a warped door or sticking door, torn or missing screens, chipped tile, scratches in hardwood flooring and similar issues.

They key to remember is that—at the end of the day—you need to protect yourself. You need to provide that you made a visual inspection of all of the visible areas of the property. Whether your client is exempt or not, has nothing to do with you. Whether your client (without your knowledge) decides not to disclose material facts, you must disclose material facts. As such, it is best to always complete an AVID form for each and everyone of your real estate transactions.