Selling a House with Water Damage
Water damage is one of the worst pains homeowners could possibly deal with. It can be really costly to conduct the necessary repairs, but ignoring it is even worse, as it would make things progressively worse and cause further damage.
The key to dealing with water damage is to act decisively and correctly. This is because water damage can affect nearly every aspect of your home: ceiling, walls, flooring, paint, foundation, electrical, and plumbing systems. You need to involve contractors of different disciplines to get your water damaged home back to its original condition.
Selling a house with water damage can be daunting, but know that it is not impossible, and we’re here to walk you through the process!
Causes of Water Damage in a House
The best way to repair water damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place–as they say, prevention is better than cure.
Therefore, to avoid dealing with the headache of water damage, it is important to know the cause so you would know how to prevent it from happening. These causes include:
The most common cause of water damage is leaking pipes or heaters. A broken pipe underneath your kitchen sink can leak water, which could damage the cabinet underneath it. It can sometimes take a while before you notice it, and you then have to deal with other problems such as mold and rot.
Having your pipes checked periodically saves you a lot of worry and money in the long run, protects you against future damage, and allows you to fix small problems before they grow out of control.
A broken washing machine or a leaking water heater not only has an effect on your water bill, but the water can pool on the floor underneath, damaging it. At the worst, you may not notice it until it’s too late, resulting in expensive repairs and replacements.
Usually, liquids shrink when frozen. Water, however, does the opposite: it expands approximately 9% in freezing temperatures such as during winter. This expansion puts pressure on pipes which may then burst, especially if they are old and rusty. Left unaddressed, it can cause tremendous and expensive long-term damage to your house especially if such pipes are underneath concrete slabs or inside walls.
Installation of heat tape, which warms pipes as needed during cold months, can prevent this from happening.
First Street Foundation, a climate risk nonprofit, estimates nearly 15 million homes in the United States are exposed to flooding risk. Damage caused by floods can be devastating; in 2021, damage from Hurricane Ida alone was a staggering $75 billion. In addition to the direct damage from a flood event, your home’s market value could also take a hit.
While you cannot prevent a natural disaster from occurring, an awareness of such possibility would help you develop strategies in reducing your risk such as flood insurance.
Sometimes leaves can get stuck in gutters, blocking them. Storm water would then overflow from the gutters and damage the structure near them. Water could also flow into the walls and pool at the basement, bringing with it a plethora of health issues due to the stagnating water and mold growth.
It is also possible that your house is located in a flood prone area.
Due to climate change, floods are becoming even more unpredictable, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides flood maps which are frequently updated to help you prepare in case you are at risk of flooding. You can then undertake measures to mitigate the possible water damage or prevent it from becoming a reality altogether.
If you live in an area that has a high risk of flooding, installing flood gates or removable flood barriers are a couple of innovative solutions to prevent flood water from entering your home.
Improper ventilation can cause some areas of the house, such as basements, to have higher than normal humidity. Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air, and it can foster an environment that is conducive for mold growth.
Effects of Water Damage on a House
Water damage, if left untreated, can bring in a host of major issues for your property.
Foremost among them are mold and rot. Did you know that it only takes 24-48 hours of moisture exposure for mold to grow? In addition to the number of adverse health effects associated with mold, such as asthma, allergic reactions, and other respiratory problems, a mold infestation can also depress a house’s asking price.
In worst case scenarios, water damage can even affect the structural integrity of your house. This is the case especially if you have wooden beams, columns, and rafters. Moisture can cause severe warping in wood and may compromise its structural integrity if not dried out or replaced as soon as possible.
Water can also cause ceilings and floor joists to sag which may lead to collapse. This is a major safety issue and can lead to your house being condemned.
Can you Sell a House with Water Damage?
Once you have decided to put your house with water damage on the open market, you have two options on how to proceed with the home sale:
Option 1: Repair before Selling House
To get the best asking price for your home, it is always best to have the water damage repaired first before going ahead with the home sale. Repairing the house also has the added benefit of preventing further damage.
If your home was damaged due to a natural disaster, you may be eligible for FEMA housing assistance which can cover water damage repairs and mold remediation. Additionally, you can also check the terms of your flood insurance.
If not, you can pay for the cleaning and necessary repairs yourself (if you can afford it)–as long as you have calculated that you’ll still be able to make back the repair cost after the sale of the house. Doing so would help you sell the house easier since many homeowners typically look for a property which they could move into immediately.
However, you must also be aware of the fact that homes with previous water damage, even though you have taken all the steps to have it rehabilitated and renovated, still lose some of their value.
A study by Stanford University found that homes zoned into a floodplain has a price reduction of about 5-10% lower compared to homes not located in a flood zone to factor in higher insurance premiums.
Option 2: Sell House As-Is
In cases of severe flooding, it can render your property uninhabitable. If you cannot afford to fix the property yourself, or you would like to sell quickly without having to deal with cleanups and rehabilitation, then selling as-is is a great option.
You must realize, however, that selling a house with water damage as-is means you should expect to have some price concessions so your asking price would be lower.
A traditional buyer is going to conduct a home inspection to find out the extent of the water damage and determine the cost of the restoration to make the house habitable again. The buyer would certainly want to be compensated for the money needed for the repairs that they are going to make.
On the other hand, there are also buyers who specialize in purchasing distressed properties, and they can give immediately give you a cash offer to take the troublesome property out of your hands.
How to Proceed with Selling a Water Damaged House
1. Selling your Water Damaged House with a Real Estate Agent
Working with a real estate agent is the traditional way of selling a house.
However, going this route not only means you need to deal with realtor fees, a real estate agent would also want your house to look its best so it is ready for open houses with potential buyers.
This means spending more money to repair and renovate your property, which you may not have the time, energy, or financial capability to do–without the guarantee that you would be able to recoup your investment after the sale.
2. Selling your House Yourself or For Sale by Owner (FSBO)
If you would like to save money on a real estate agent’s commission, you can go the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) route.
Granted, you would need to do the marketing, presenting, negotiating, and closing the deal with the buyer yourself, as opposed to having a real estate agent do it for you, but you have full control over variables such as the asking price or the state you want the house to be sold in.
Would you like to fix the water damage? Sell as is? It’s up to you. Note that selling a house with water damage to a buyer trying to get conventional financing will be unlikely due to lender required repairs.
3. Selling a House with Water Damage to Real Estate Investors
Let’s say you don’t want to consider your house with water damage as your problem anymore. Let’s face it, trying to sell the house yourself is an exhausting process. Your best bet in offloading your property as-is (quickly!) is finding a real estate investor.
Home investors are used for difficult projects such as water damage, and some even specialize in them, as they typically have a team of construction professionals who will take care of the renovations.
The benefits of selling your house to this type of buyer include: immediate cash offers and no financing issues; no restoration and renovations needed on your end; and a quick cash sale.
4 Things to Be Aware of When Selling your Water Damaged Home
1. Disclose Water Damage to Potential Buyers
Do not even think about trying to hide water damage. As the real estate business is built on trust, it is more prudent to be upfront with your potential buyers about the condition of the house.
Full disclosure of the past water damage and documentation of the repairs undertaken is necessary in giving the potential buyer a clear understanding of what they are purchasing.
2. Flood Insurance is a Must-Have in Flood Prone Areas
Did you know that even an inch of flood water can cause up to $25,000 in damage?
If your property is located in a flood zone, it is highly recommended that you get flood insurance. This would help you with the costly restoration associated to a house with water damage.
What’s more, this could also be transferred to the potential buyer, as an added incentive to purchasing your house!
3. Decide How Deep you Want to Go with the Repair
If you choose to fix and renovate your house, you have to determine the extent of each repair if you’re looking to sell your house later on. However, these are the repairs that you must do prior to putting your house on the market:
- Removal of black mold and getting a mold remediation certificate
- Replace damaged wooden beams
- Restore carpets, flooring, wallpapers, and curtains
- Repair and repaint walls and affected ceilings
Along with repair, clear out the house of water damaged upholstered furniture and any other damaged belongings. Doing so will net you a better price and make your house attractive to potential buyers.
4. Find Out the Price to Make each Repair
If you decide not to fix the house yourself, it would be helpful if you try to determine how much it would cost. That way, it would make it easy for you and the buyer to negotiate a price you both are going to be happy with.
Final Thoughts: Selling a House with Water Damage
So, what do you do if you don’t want to (or can’t) deal with real estate agents? Trying to sell a home with water damage by yourself can be a stressful and drawn-out process…
Here at Sell My House Fast, we’re buyers of real estate in any condition! Save your time and energy, so you can carry on without the stress of figuring out how to sell a house with water damage.
Yes, even including houses with water damage.
We make the process of selling a house as simple and as comfortable for you, without the drawbacks of dealing with real estate agents. We even cover all closing costs!
If you would like to get an offer for your house as soon as possible, fill out the form below!
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at (844) 207-0788 and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
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Author: Andy Kolodgie
Andy Kolodgie is an experienced real estate investor with a network that expands nationwide. As owner of Sell My House Fast, Andy’s goal is to provide home sellers with more options to their real estate problems than a traditional home sale. He’s been featured on multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, MSN, HomeLight, Credit.com, Apartment Therapy, Business.com, LegalZoom, Zolo, and Creditcards.com.