REALTORS® Promise to Send Help to Texas
As the rains slowly subside in Texas and the full scale of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction comes into focus, the National Association of REALTORS® is calling on members nationwide to donate funds to the REALTOR® Relief Foundation to support storm victims. The RRF, whose goal is to help families who have endured catastrophic loss, will use the money for mortgage and rental assistance. Since its launch in 2001, the RRF has raised more than $25 million to provide housing-related aid to victims of disasters around the country, such as wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Meteorologists have warned that the magnitude of property damage from Harvey’s wrath could surpass that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though Harvey did not cause a similar death toll. Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane last Friday and hovered for days as a tropical storm, dumping up to 50 inches of rain in parts of Texas. Houston is one of the hardest-hit areas, submerged in more than two feet of water.
“This may require our REALTOR® family’s largest effort since Hurricane Katrina—or even 9/11,” RRF President Martin Edwards wrote in an internal memo to NAR directors and staff. “Hopefully, REALTORS® across America will heed the call to donate without precedent, as the on-the-ground membership in Texas will be stretched beyond belief.”
NAR President William E. Brown said in a statement that the storm provides an opportunity for all 1.2 million REALTORS® to focus their energy on supporting each other and their colleagues in Texas, including donating to RRF. “There will be many families in the greater Houston area who need our help,” Brown said. “It will take time to know the full impact of Hurricane Harvey, but we know the devastation will be widespread and that our support will be necessary.”
NAR also has released guidance for real estate professionals whose transactions were interrupted by the storm. If a natural disaster hamstrings your client’s deal, here are some steps to take:
- Communicate clearly. Advise your clients as soon as possible about what is known and what is not known.
- Review the purchase agreement. Most have provisions addressing damages that occur to the property prior to closing and whether such damage occurs “in the ordinary course” or due to dramatic events. Contracts also ordinarily contain provisions addressing what happens when one or both parties cannot perform their duties for reasons beyond their control. Typically the provision holds that such nonperformance is not a default.
- Check your state’s laws. Apart from contractual provisions regarding loss or damage to property, state law may dictate which party—seller or buyer—bears the risk of loss during the pendency of a transaction.
- Advise your client to file a homeowners insurance claim. At the very least, your client should notify the insurance carrier of the claim as soon as possible. Tell your client to document all damages in writing, photos, and video, and to keep records of everything he or she spends on repairs and replacements.
- Talk to lenders. Buyers should check with their lenders to determine how they will handle reinspections or reappraisals that may be required. Make sure your client asks lenders about additional costs or closing time frames caused by the disaster.
—Source REALTOR® Magazine