The rainy spring season has arrived, and hurricane season begins soon, too. While the country is in the midst of shelter-in-place during the pandemic, worrying about potential weather-related damage might seem low on the priority list. Unfortunately, hurricanes and heavy rains could leave your clients’ homes at risk for flooding. Here’s how to help homeowners prepare for flooding if they are buying a home where the risk may be higher.
Check Insurance Coverage
Mother Nature can be brutal. No matter where we live, weather has the potential to damage the home. Hail, tornadoes, hurricanes and even excessive wind can lead to expensive repairs. The question is: are homeowners covered?
For flooding, many homeowners may discover too late that damage to their home related to flooding is not included in their policy. All State notes that flood coverage is usually a separate policy.
Before hurricane season or spring rains hit home, encourage buyers to review their insurance policy to ensure that they have coverage to protect against flood damage. If the policy does not cover flooding, tell them to contact their insurance provider and ask about additional coverage. More coverage may bump up the premium, however, even a rate increase is better than having a severely damaged—or destroyed—home without any way to cover all that damage.
Prepare Them for Sandbagging
If your buyers are looking in an area that is at high risk for hurricanes, they may need to learn proactive ways to protect their home to minimize damage.
Less severe hurricanes may mean that residents can stay in their homes, but they may still need to prepare for the onslaught of heavy rains and the potential for flash flooding by sandbagging around the home. Sandbags are a DIY levee that may stop water from seeping into the home.
Sandbags also may be used if river flooding is threatening a home or business. Many cities that are vulnerable to flooding prepare for the crest of floodwaters by sandbagging in front of businesses and around homes.
Know the Floodplain
Certain areas are more prone to flooding because of their proximity to water or their lower elevation.
There are different flood plains and these areas may be designated by ‘year’ risks. A home may be located in a 100-year flood plain, and this typically means that it has a one percent chance of being hit by a flood. That is, every 100 years, a massive flood would be likely. That being said, over the course of a 30-year mortgage, that risk increases because of statistical probability.
Is the home your buyer loves at risk? Before they make an offer, check the location to ensure that the home isn’t located in a flood plain.
If your buyer absolutely loves the home and insists on making an offer even if it’s in a flood plain, help them understand their risks and their insurance needs. Bankrate notes that a lender may require homeowners to have flood insurance if the home is located in an at-risk area and that a home in a flood prone area also will need an Elevation Certificate (or EC).
Create An Emergency Preparedness Kit
Flooding—and the potential for flooding—can be incredibly scary. While homeowners can sandbag to help keep the water from doing any damage, they may find that they are trapped by flood waters. Some homeowners have felt as though they were living on an island during floods; they were protected, their homes were safe, but they were unable to leave.
Cities and weather services can typically warn of potential flooding from a nearby body of water or hurricane, but homeowners need to do everything possible to prepare. For buyers who are moving into a flood-prone or hurricane vulnerable area, help them understand the seriousness of following the advice of city/county officials related to flooding or hurricanes. During times when it’s safe to stay at home, encourage homeowners to gather any potential supplies they may need to weather disastrous weather.
Here is a list of everything homeowners might need while hunkering down at home during a flood or hurricane (think about including this list on a magnet, too!):
- Multiple flashlights (and LOTS of extra batteries)
- A supply of food and clean water (in case the water supply is compromised) – already packed emergency food is also a good choice and easy to buy online.
- A first-aid kit (be sure to also have any necessary prescription medications)
- Working cell phones
- A working radio (and, again, batteries!)
- Clothing and personal care items
- All your important documents (insurance, birth certificates, social security cards, drivers licenses, etc).
Teaching Home Buyers About Evacuations
Flooding may be so severe that evacuations are necessary and mandatory. Buyers living in hurricane prone areas (or those living in a flood plain) need to create an evacuation plan. Your clients should know their final destination and have a safe travel route to get there.
Sometimes evacuation orders may leave little time to prepare. Create a list of must-have items for homeowners to have as a checklist during an emergency evacuation. Even better? Print this necessary list onto a fridge magnet and distribute to all potential buyers. Here’s what to include:
- Important documents (see above)
- Cell phones
- Some clothes
- Meaningful items (families should take only what’s necessary)
- A first aid kit
- Flashlights and batteries
- Any prescription medications
- Clean water
Flooding, Evacuation & Pets
During Hurricane Katrina, many were forced to leave pets behind. Now, though, families are encouraged to take their pets during evacuation. When evacuating with pets during flooding or a hurricane, the CDC advises families to include pets in the plans. Per the CDC, families should ensure that pets have:
- Updated tags (pets should always have updated ownership and vaccination tags)
- Up-to-date vaccination records (your vet can provide these)
- A microchip for easy identification
- Medications for two weeks (heartworm or other meds prescribed by your vet)
- A supply of food and clean water
- A leash and harness
- A safe way to travel in the car (crate or other support system)
The CDC also provides links to pet-friendly hotels so families can have a place to stay with furry friends during evacuation. REALTORS® can include a pet checklist as part of an emergency kit for new buyers.
While many are concerned about the pandemic, for buyers who are looking for homes near the ocean or other bodies of water, spring and summer seasons may mean more rainfall and the threat of hurricanes and flooding. Help your buyers prepare now so they know what to do when flooding threatens their home and safety.