Water Damage: What To Know So You Don’t Fail Like 99% Of The Others Who Sinks Their Deal
By: Ian Golightly
We can’t live without water, but for your home, it can be your home’s #1 enemy. Statistics have shown that 37% of homeowners across the US have losses due to water damage, while 98% percent of basements will deal with water issues.
If you are thinking about selling your property that has known water damage, that will be a daunting proposition to deliver to prospected buyers. That’s why having a sellers agent is crucial so that they can help during the transaction. Luckily, I will help guide you so you can avoid a crisis like dealing with massive out of pocket expenses.
Some things that I am going to talk about are:
- Most common causes of water damage on a property
- Water damage insurance and how to ensure that you are covered
- Options to make the necessary repairs or to reduce the price Of your water damage property when selling
- The real estate disclosures for known water damage on a property
Most Common Causes Of Water Damage On A Property:
The most common causes of water 🌊🌊 damage on a property can start from various sources, and it is one of the top priority defects that home inspectors look for. If you sell a property with water damage or a history of water damage that is noticeable, do not be surprised if you get dinged on the home inspection report. Having water damage or an account of water damage to a property may have safety issues, such as black mold.
Here are just a few things that you can keep an eye out on before the home inspection:
- Old water heaters
- Leaky toilets and leaky sinks
- Rusty pipes
- Backflow in the pipes and also cross-connection issues
- Water sewer issues
- Any growth of mold 🤮
Here are the top three sources of water damage that I believe you need to keep an eye on:
Flat Roofs: When I was looking at old properties in St. Louis to rehab, I would see many of them with flat roofs. As the roof ages, the material starts to wear off, and it should be mitigated by tar, so no water leaks through the roof to the ceiling or any other parts of the property. For regular roofs, the issue arises when the roof’s slight gradient can cause a host of problems when debris buildup starts to occur. This can cause the buildup’s weight to flatten the roof and cause water to pool rather than having water runoff.
Being in the Midwest, having pools of water on the roof in the winter can cause some severe issues when puddles of water start to become encrusted by ice. The roof’s integrity drops, causing more chances of the roof to crack and the ceiling. In return, you have a higher chance of having water get inside and driving mold issues later down the road.
If you own a property with a flat roof, you’ll want to fix the spots that cause the water 💧 to pool and not drain. If you don’t have a drain system, you should think about maybe getting one. For your existing drains, you’ll want to make sure they are open and unclogged. If possible, you’ll want to contact a licensed contractor to see if repatching your roof is possible.
Leaking Pipes🚿: If you’re thinking about selling your property soon, this may be bad news if you genuinely have leaking pipes. It is tough to detect and diagnosis leaky pipe issues. A licensed plumber may be needed who has a trained eye. Pipes can rust and also obtain damage during the winter season if they freeze.
Being observant and keeping an eye on your pipes periodically is the easiest and immediate thing you can do. If you start to get low water pressure or the water begins to become discolored, that may be the start of some trouble. Also, noticeable water stains, cracks, soggy spots, black build-up are common signs of excessive moisture. You should contact your local licensed plumber as soon as possible.
Dirty Gutters: Even though this is a seasonal task during the fall and not during the fall season, cleaning gutters is a missed task for many homeowners. Having debris blockage can cause water to overflow and flow down the side of the house. Having overflow can lead to damage or discoloration of siding, drown plants, flood basements, and shift the foundation.
Check your home siding for any dirty watermarks, which will be an indicator of possible gutter overflow. Locate where the problem may be and mitigate it right away to stop potential further damage. If you feel like it is a challenge to do it yourself, call a local professional who can help.
Water Damage Insurance And How To Ensure That You Are Covered:
If you have homeowners’ insurance, you must have water damage as part of your policy. Statistically, Home insurance pays out $2.5B yearly to water damage claims. Over 14,000 Homeowners deal with water damage daily, and every homeowner with a basement will face water damage at one point or another. On average, a water damage claim to insurance is roughly around $7,000 in damage. In 2016 nearly 30% of insurance claims were due to water damage and freezing.
Every insurance policy is different, so before you find yourself in a situation where you have to make a claim, call your local insurance representative and understand what is covered before it’s too late. If you have to make a claim now, then you’ll want to follow these few steps:
- Call insurance company
- Secure as best as possible-remove any standing water and dry area
- Take pictures and create an inventory list of items that were damaged
- Seek temporary housing if needed
Options to make the necessary repairs or to reduce the price Of your water damage property when selling:
In most cases, water damage to property doesn’t result in a situation where you have to tear down the whole thing, but it is an inconvenience. In better terms, remediation is a ‘when’ it will get done versus ‘if’ it’s going to get done. And the sooner, the better. I have browsed houses that had a funky smell to them, and during the inspection, it was indicated that there was a leak under the bathtub, which was the catalyst for mold buildup. Having mold removed professionally can cost in the thousands of dollars, but at that point, there are minimal choices since you are dealing with health safety.
Are You Required To Disclose During The Transaction?
My rule of thumb is when, in doubt, disclose. Being transparent about property facts is not only The smart thing to do but also an ethical way to do business. I was doing some research, and I ran into Nolo Press, where their editor LLona Bray J.D. notes that legal claims can be filled against a seller who failed to make known defect disclosures (past water damages). Here is a list of people who may find themselves in litigation if this situation occurs:
- Sellers agent/broker
- Buyers inspector
Water damage is taken seriously because it involves with safety. The seller can pay large consequences if they knew about the water damage and didn’t do anything about it.
Top challenges selling property with water damage:
- Price Drop: If a buyer sees water damage, don’t be surprised that they low ball you, saying that they can see water damage. As a buyer, imagine buying that dream car, and that’s the last car at the dealership’s inventory. I expect you’re on the fence of deciding to run into another one or by lowering the price because of a crack in the bumper. It is the same situation when buying a property. Once again, buyers will express their concerns about it but don’t be trapped in a situation where the ask doesn’t make sense. If you are caught in that situation, get a few bids, and lower the price for the service costs, or you can issue a credit to the buyer during closing.
- Electrical/safety/health issues: Having water damage can pose a safety issue when electrical wiring has been affected by water. From a health perspective, black mold can cause health issues.
- Be Ready For Round II Of Future Damages: Once water damage happens, the chances of it happening again are high if the fix was ignored or not properly fixed. Note, these are the things that you do not want to DIY, and you’ll want to have a licensed plumber to do the work. If you fixed the problem from a licensed plumber with documentation, this should allow you to get your asking price. Real estate is always unique, and all transactions are different. You may be in a situation that the buyer doesn’t care and will give you the asking price. It depends on how bad they want the property.
What Do I Suggest When Selling A Home With Water Damage:
If water damage comes up in a home inspection then do the right thing and get it fixed if you are selling your property as a livable space.
However, here are a few pointers that I suggest:
Don’t Hide A Known History Or Hide Current Water Damage:
Some non-truthful sellers have tried to hide water damage by trying to paint or use some alternative to mask the damage temporarily. If you are untruthful, you may put yourself in a legal battle after the transaction. Don’t have the mindset that you can not be held liable for not disclosing known facts about the property after the transaction.
Put Some Effort And Get Some Bids:
Take a moment out of your day and call around to get some bids. I mentioned this because if you opt to worry about this, later on, the convenience of not picking up the phone may make you lose more money by getting an offer by a lower purchase price. If you decide to give the buyer a repair credit to cover the service’s cost, you have more of a chance to credit more money than the service’s actual price. Overall, you’ll most likely not receive as much money as you would if you just had made a few local calls to get price bids.
Get Everything In Writing:
Have you heard the term ‘if it’s not in writing that it didn’t happen?’ That term is relatively accurate with real estate. You want to make you keep all your receipts, paperwork, e-mail, and everything else that can be documented in an organized fashion. Not doing this, it may lead to a situation with a ‘he said, she said’ conflict. If you receive a lower offer, you’ll have documentation of everything you have done to justify the reason behind the asking cost of the property.
As you can see, water damage is a headache, and unfortunately, it is something that shouldn’t be ignored. If you are buying or selling a property that has water damage, you need someone who’s a real estate expert to help you out to make sure they protect your money and use them as leverage to make sure you are getting the best deal. Luckily HELLO STL can help.