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Selling a house after a wildfire - Beni Restea - Blog

Selling a house after a wildfire

Wildfires are a frequent threat to both human life and properties that occur in areas where the climate is sufficiently moist to allow for trees to grow, but feature extensively dry periods of time. The destructive and uncontrolled fire, created by human negligence or a natural phenomenon like lightning, poses a threat to houses and agricultural resources, and although we tend to consider wildfires in terms of the amount of damage it produces, there are many ecosystems that rely on them for renewal and maintenance.  

       In the US there are over 44 million houses in forested areas. The highest figure of households prone to high or extremely high risk from wildfire, are found, according to the 2019 Verisk Wildfire Risk Analysis, in the following states: California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho. Withal, Texas, California, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida have the highest number of acres burned in 2018 according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Many Americans living in forested areas, if such an event occurs, are left wondering what to do when confronted with the risk of selling a fire damaged property and what are their options. Either they want to sell because of the unsafe conditions in which they live, or the ignition takes place after the decision was made, it's worth noting some opportunities such events can create. A territory affected by a wildfire can produce the development and extension of urban areas and can lead to a better environmental awareness. This will introduce estates with a lower risk of exposure to fire damage and for homeowners will be the occasion to rebuild a more valuable and sustainable property. Also, the market value for districts in the vicinity of an ecosystem prone to wildfires, is likely to increase.

What do you do after your house burns down?

    The desire to protect your property, as a homeowner, can leave you feeling powerless in the face of the destructive force of a wildfire and its aftermath. Being part of the statistics is time and money consuming and rebuilding a house after a fire in order to sell it, might overwhelm you. But instead of focusing on the prejudices, try to adapt and take advantage of what you can do with your property value after a wildfire. Just like the jack pine drops its seeds into the ash enriched soil to ensure new ones will grow in its place after it burns down during a fire, you can assess how to rehab your fire damaged house in a manner that protects its market value. In order to accomplish this, you need to know who to call and which option is best suited for you: selling with or without renovation. 

          The first thing you must do in both cases, after your home was damaged by a wildfire, is to contact your insurance company to learn the value of your home.

          Decide if it's more profitable for you to sell the house as is. It's easier and saves you the consumptive process of hiring contractors or the exhaustion of participating and living (if the affected house is your residence) during the rehab of a fire damaged house. Take into account that it will cost you when marketing the property as it must get discounted in order to be sold, while investors usually steer clear of fire damaged houses, thus the buyers pool is very small. You can consider selling a house after a fire without renovation when a very small portion was affected (but not the bathroom or kitchen) or when the cost of rebuilding a house after a fire might leave you unable to pay the mortgage. If you want the best return of your property, reparation is your best option, especially if you have insurance to cover it. If you choose to sell your house after a fire by first renovating it, you need to know which are the steps to follow. 

Is it safe to stay in a house after a fire? 

         The moment when the fire is extinguished and the situation is no longer life threatening, does not eliminate the risks created by such an event to your health. The most important reason to rehab a fire damaged house, in case you are willing to return to your house, is the fact that smoke lingers in your home and can pose further menace to you and your belongings. Smoke contains, among other chemicals, ash, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and soot (particles of impure carbon), the effect of fuel remnants that fed the fire. It can cause pulmonary irritation, headaches and can worsen pre-existing heart conditions. You must know how to clean up after a fire in order to avoid health hazards created by smoke that can coat objects in soot and odor, penetrate the walls of your house, furnishings, light fixtures and electrical sockets. DIY techniques are not efficient, thus it is essential to contact your insurance firm and ask for recommendations of a fire restoration company to do a complete thorough cleaning and decontamination of the entire property. Most of the time, the insurance pays for these services. An experienced restoration contractor is able to address the health problems put forward by such an event and knows how to clean up after a fire that damaged your house. 

How much would it cost to repair a fire damaged house?

     Be ready to make investments. Repair and reconstruction costs add-up fast. Take into consideration all the problems and solutions and spend your money wisely because expert renovation services might be expensive, demand time and can be overwhelming. Rebuilding a house after a fire entails knowing the most vital reparations you must do in order to maintain or even increase the value of your property. When someone is buying a house renovated after a fire, they must first know everything they can about the incident and would normally call a professional to do an inspection and evaluate the property. Some reparations might be covered by your insurance company so keep all the receipts. If you don't have insurance, you can contact public agencies and associations such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army for some help and guidance. If the area is avowed by the government to be a territory affected by a great calamity, you should ask for a professional opinion to see if there is any policy regarding financial recovery that might be beneficial for you. Verify with an accountant or with the IRS directly. Regarding the rehab of a fire damaged house, you must know which technicians are fundamental to the renovation process. 

Who to call when rebuilding a house after a fire

       Buying a house renovated after a fire makes people prone to pay a closer look to details that otherwise are easily overlooked, so you need to know and call some key professionals to help and guide you during this process.

Professional mold removal and remediation services: before selling your house after a fire take into account that the wildfire is extinguished using water and chemicals that might leave damp basement walls and interior wood surfaces, a source of mold. This will also take extra renovation time as the walls need time to dry. 

A structural engineer: buying a house renovated after a fire can often imply additional expenses to cover structural integrity. If you do not want to lose property value after a wildfire, you must first check if there is extensive structural damage and if the house might need framing, floor joists and roof truss reconstruction. 

An experienced plumber: extreme heat damages soldering on copper, plumbing and can melt PVC pipes. They show up as damp spots, stains and mold on drywall. 

A licensed electrician: take into account electrical wiring, fuse boxes, circuit burn and any short outs when you rehab a fire damaged house, because extreme temperatures scorch switches and plug outlets. 

A professional duct cleaner: when ductwork is contaminated by compounds found in the chemicals used to extinguish the fire, interior air quality is compromised. Property values after a wildfire are higher if there are no health hazards surrounding or inside the estate. 

An experienced restoration contractor: to remove soot, smoke, stains and odors. Exposure to such substances are even more  dangerous because they are not easily detected and the effects are noticeable only with the passing of time. 

A certified mold remediation specialist: selling a fire damaged property means you need to check for water damage that creates the ideal conditions for a mold outbreak. Any type of fungus spreads rapidly in humid environments. Toxic fungi are able to produce eye, throat or even skin irritation to the residents. To maintain or increase property values after wildfire, owners must first and foremost eliminate any health threatening conditions.

An asbestos abatement technician: only if you rehab a fire damaged house built before 1980.

Living or leaving after a wildfire?

     Rebuilding a house after a fire might be an expensive and exhausting process and property values after a fire tend to experience, from a historical perspective, a decrease from 3% to 23% due to the fact that the surroundings were affected too. And you should definitely take that into account. Not only your house will be evaluated with an increased perception of the hazardous conditions but also the area in which the land is located, which, within a couple of years (from 2 to 5 years) undergo a complete rebound of the market according to the studies of Shawn McCoy and Randall Walsh, economists at the University of Las Vegas and the University of Pittsburgh, due to the fact that everything is rebuilt adapted to the environment and to protect properties from further exposure to wildfire risk, while new and modern structures replace the old ones. Your house can also be reconstructed, with the aid of the insurance settlement, larger and safer.

        Try to evaluate the damage and make sure you make the best decisions when you're selling a house after a fire. Make sure to keep track of your insurance claims, police reports, and any repairs you've made, and be aware that each state has a property disclosure statement of which you must describe any prejudices that your estate suffered and the steps made to repair it.

Publish Date: April 7, 2020 12:44 PM

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