During the recent historic flood event, thousands of homes across south Louisiana were inundated with floodwater. For most homeowners, the recovery process has just begun. Information on possible funding, temporary housing, or other assistance is available from FEMA and other organizations. But if you own a flood-impacted home, you face another significant and perhaps more long-term question: What can you do now to protect the value—including the resale value—of your home? The following are a few points to consider and suggestions.
Disclosure of Flood–Related Issues
Louisiana law requires a seller of residential property to complete and provide to the prospective purchaser a property disclosure form prescribed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission (LREC).1 The LREC property disclosure form 2 includes the following questions, among many others, that must be answered by the seller:
- “Has any flooding, water intrusion, accumulation, or drainage problem been experienced with respect to land? If yes, indicate the nature and frequency of the defect at the end of this section.”
- “What is/are the flood zone classification(s) of the property?”
- “Has any structure on the property ever taken water by flooding (rising water or otherwise)? If yes, give the nature and frequency of the defect at the end of this section.”
- “Has there been property damage related to the land or the improvements thereon, including, but not limited to, fire, windstorm, flood, hail, lightning, or other property damage? If yes, were all related property damages, defects, and/or conditions repaired?”
- “Does the property or any of its structures contain any of the following? Check all that apply and provide the nature and frequency at the end of this section. . . . mold/mildew. . .toxic mold. . .contaminated drywall/Sheetrock.”
- “Were any additions or alterations made to the property? If yes, were the necessary permits and inspections obtained for all additions or alterations?”
So not only should the seller disclose flood-related issues to the buyer as a matter of good faith, the seller is required to do so by law.
1 (La. R.S. 9:3198.)
2 The LREC property disclosure form is available here. An amended version of the form will become effective on January 1, 2017; however, the amended form does not change the disclosures discussed in this article.
Note also that Louisiana law requires licensed home inspectors to describe in their inspection reports the presence of suspected mold growth if visual evidence of mold is discovered inside the home.3 A mold inspection is outside the scope of a standard home inspection; however, if the home inspector observes mold, he must say so in the inspection report.4
Past flood damage and current mold issues have the potential to negatively impact the value of your home. So what should you do?
Protecting the Value of Your Flood-Impacted Home
A key factor in protecting the value of your home will be how well you can demonstrate to prospective purchasers, appraisers, inspectors, lenders, insurers, and others that the flood-related damage was properly repaired or otherwise addressed. What you do now will impact the future value of your home. The following are a few suggested strategies: