Should Buyers Factor in Climate Change?
From floods to hurricanes, the weather could wreak havoc on a person’s home, and climate change may largely influence who is at risk, recent housing reports indicate. Given that homes are the most expensive asset to many people, “it’s foolish not to consider the long-term implications of owning one in a growing number of increasingly damage-prone places,” notes an article at The New York Times.
How can you help home buyers make a smart climate-related decision about their home purchase? Here are a few tips:
Learn about any special insurance requirements. Sasha Krigsvold told The New York Times that she didn’t find out until the closing table in 2006 that her home in Norfolk, Va., would need a special flood insurance policy. Your home buyers may want to establish a relationship with a local insurance agent before they even start shopping for homes to know what extra may be required. Homeowners insurance typically does not cover floods. Lenders may require buyers purchase flood insurance depending on where they live. Even if it isn’t a requirement, buyers may be smart to read the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website on the flood insurance program before they purchase home. FEMA flood maps can also help show which homes may fall within an area where coverage is required.
Learn about the home’s past. Many home buyers are unaware that such information about the home’s past is available to them. But they need to ask for it. Reports called CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) and A-PLUS can give an overview of any insurance claims made on the house in the past. Buyers may need to request the report from the current homeowner or an insurance agent. A site called home disclosure.com also may offer more insight into a home’s past. The free report details weather and environmental risks, as well as information about former meth labs and the local sex offender population.
Look for clues when touring a home. Spencer M. Houldin, president of Ericson Insurance Advisors in Washington Depot, Conn., suggests home buyers look carefully at the home’s windows, for example, which also may serve as indication of any weather-related issues. For example, look for special impact-resistant glass in the windows or hurricane shutters. Real estate pro Ellen Chamberlain with Nancy Chandler Associates in Norfolk told The New York Times she looks for clues through a home’s basement. She says an indication that water may have been in the basement may be by how many cinder blocks high people have stored their belongings. Some buyers may even want separate inspections, beyond the home inspection to flag any potential issues. For instance, Christopher W. Heidrick, who runs an insurance agency in Sanibel, Fla., says in Florida, he suggests a wind mitigation inspection. Heidrick also recommends using specs listed on smarthomeamerica.org as a guide. Also, watch for the proximity of trees near a home. Nearby trees can potentially cause thousands of dollars in damage if they fall onto a home.
Source: “You’re Buying a Home. Have You Considered Climate Change?” The New York Times (Dec. 2, 2016)