Flooding Adds to Challenges of Selling a Home

(Chester, N.J. ) (Sept. 8, 2011) — As if buying or selling a home in this market isn’t enough of a challenge, many people are asking me what they should do if their home floods, or if a home they’re about to purchase has some water in the basement. I’m telling them same thing I always tell my clients: Make a realistic assessment of your situation and develop a well thought-out response.

Many of the people in our office were first-hand victims of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and I’m well aware that there are different levels of disaster. If the home in question has suffered catastrophic damage, that’s a special discussion, and everyone’s first concern needs to the safety and welfare of you and your family.  But most of the homes in this area suffered damage that ranged from significant, but not catastrophic, to damp basements. For those homes, I suggest three steps for buyers and sellers:

  1. Be safe. No house is worth getting injured over. Follow guidelines from local safety authorities and from FEMA about going back into the house. Make sure it’s safe and that there are no flood waters around the home, that no gas lines are leaking and that the power is off until you’re certain the electrical system is safe. Listen to experts’ guidance about structural damage, soaked appliances, contaminated food and other flooding results.
  2. If needed, enlist the help of professionals, including your insurance agent. Even if you don’t have flood insurance, he or she may be able to help you recover some damages. Disaster assistance information is on county and federal Web sites.  Consider employing electricians, plumbers, engineers and others to be certain your home’s structure, systems and appliances are safe and working properly. At the same time, be careful of scam artists. Your Realtor can help you select the professionals you need.
  3. Talk to your Realtor. If you’re selling, you can determine together whether your home needs to come off the market and how it will impact your sale. You may need time to repair your home. Your home might sell better after the memories of the flooding have subsided. You and your agent will need to decide if any changes in disclosure are necessary.

If you’ve had your eye on that perfect home that now is impacted, you and your agent can run down the facts that will help you decide if the home is still perfect. You’ll want to know how often the area floods, how damaged the home and area infrastructure is, and what’s the best way to move forward. If you’re in contract, your Realtor may need to help you navigate negotiations between you and the other party.

Every case is different. I have clients whose homes had water in the basement for the first time ever and I have homes that we’re taking off the market for a while. I know of buyers who are purchasing a damaged home for some extra consideration, knowing they’ll be putting a lot of work into it anyway. Like other situations in real estate, you have to put emotions aside to determine how to go forward.

If I can help you, please contact me.  I am the team leader for the Holmquist Team, part of Keller Williams Town Square Realty. I’ve been in real estate since 1997, so I’ve got the experience to answer your questions.  You can reach me at www.kellysellshouses.com or by calling (908) 867-7109.

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