Real Estate News with Terri Taydus, AHWD, CNA, CRS, GRI

Boulder's Flood is Over. Now What Do We Do?

September 20th, 2013 10:24 AM by Taydus Taydus, AHWD, CNE, CRS, GRI



Boulder is in the long process of picking itself up, and dusting off.  Boulder is strong and proud.  She is bruised but not beaten by the recent flood.  Of all the photos I have seen, the one above moved me the most.  Someone posted this on Facebook, and it is a photo from a plane as it flew over Colorado at the time Boulder was being deluged with rain.  The photo is both beautiful and frightening.  For those of us that live here, it felt like the rain would never end. 

But it did end.  And in true Colorado form the sun came out and the skies returned to the clear blue that we all know and love.  

However in the wake of this horrific storm, we see the damage – the piles and piles of damaged furnishings and flooring (mostly from people’s basements) stacked up on curbs and in designated dumping areas.  The downed trees and vegetation where the creeks and rivers came roaring over their banks.  The dirt and debris in the roadways, and covering sidewalks and bike paths.  The roadways, washed away by Mother Nature’s force. 

But what about the damage we don’t see? People that are either homeless or unable to return to their homes due to unsafe structures or damaged roadways.  The mourning for those lost in the flood.  The worry about “what do we do now?” and “how will we rebuild?”  There are so many questions.  President Obama declared Boulder’s flood a National Disaster.  So what does this all mean?    

Answer: We start over.  We start rebuilding piece by piece.  Everywhere I go I see that the process has already begun.  People cleaning out their basements.  Water mitigation trucks by the dozens.  Crews working to reopen closed roads, and cleaning up the dirt and debris.  Boulder is dusting off and on the road to recovery.

I have been hearing a lot of talk about the effect of the flood on the Real Estate market.  The overall belief seems to be that this too shall pass, and Boulder will remain strong.  I am hearing things like “100 year flood” and “we won’t have to worry about this again in our lifetime.”  Maybe their right – I hope so.  

I do however believe that this is going to change the way we buy and sell Real Estate – at least for the short run.  I am hearing different thoughts and opinions, with the general consensus being that homes located in the flood plains may take a hit in value for a while, and homes outside of the flood plain will become more in demand (thus depleting inventory and driving up home values in these areas). 

This leaves many buyers scratching their heads and asking “so what do I do?”  Here is what I suggest:
  • BE REALISTIC – I think it is safe to say that the majority of the homes had some sort of water in their basements and / or crawl spaces, with fewer remaining perfectly dry. This does not necessarily mean that there is something “wrong” with the property or that the structure has been compromised. As one news reported stated “this was an event of Biblical proportions, the likes of which Colorado had never seen before.” In days past a basement that had water in it at one time or another was thought of as having “issues”. That may no longer be the case. Buyers are going to need to understand that the ground was so saturated, in many cases the water literally came up through the slab floor as there was simply no other place for the water to go. This does not mean that there is something “wrong” with the home. It just indicates the severity of an isolated situation. However what you DO need to do is:
    • Have any home you are considering purchasing inspected by a reputable home inspector.
    • If you have ANY reason to suspect mold in the home, have a hazardous materials professional check for mold, check what kind of mold is present (if any – remember some homes may smell of mildew because of the temporary dampness, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is mold), and have any mold mitigated by a professional prior to moving in.
    • o Ask the seller if their basement flooded and if so, what they did to mitigate the problem. Do not be afraid to ask for photos of the damage (if any are available) and receipts indicating any water mitigation and / or repairs that were completed.
    • Ask how badly the home flooded (some people had very little water in their basements while others had several feet).
  • Ask your Realtor if the home you are considering is in the flood plain. It is easy for your Realtor to pull this information up in the MLS and provide you with a map of the home you are considering.
  • If the home of your desire did have some sort of water damage, or if it is located in the flood plain, be sure to check with your homeowner’s insurance right away regarding future coverage.
  • If you need flood insurance find out what it is going to cost you. Flood insurance can be costly.
  • Find out if the current homeowner made a flood claim with their insurance company. If so, find out how this will affect your premium moving forward. It is possible that the insurance follows the house. If you purchase a home that had flooded before, and a claim was made, YOUR premium moving forward could be adversely affected.
  • TALK TO YOUR LENDER. The Boulder flood was national news. Lenders are aware of the damage to homes in the area. That said, if you intend on financing a home that has been water damaged, speak to your lender. Most lending institutions may have specific requirements that need to be met before they will lend you money to purchase a water-damaged home, including the possibility of a second home inspection to specifically look for water damage.

Some home sellers have also been greatly affected by the flood. Their home that was on the market with no previous water damage may now have a wet basement. Potential home sellers may now be discouraged because of flood damage that occurred in their home. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You are NOT alone. I believe that a flooded basement is not going to have the same connotations as it did pre-storm. Whereas having to disclose that you had a flood in your basement used to discourage buyers, now many buyers in Boulder county are going to be forced to look at the situation more objectively than in days past, as MANY homes that are on the market (or that will come onto the market) are going to have a history of flood damage to some degree or another.
  • DOCUMENT AND DISCLOSE. As you go through the process of mitigating the water and damage to your home from flooding, document the process. Take photos, keep records, and keep the receipts. You will need to disclose this information to any potential buyers. Seeing that you took the necessary steps to properly mitigate any water and repair any damage, and having the information to clearly show a potential buyer the steps taken to do so, could set your home apart from the competition.
At the end of the day Boulder will remain a desirable place to live.  A flood cannot wash away the lifestyle, the values and everything that makes Boulder…..well, Boulder!  We may need to make some adjustments in the process of buying and selling, but sometime change can be a good thing
Posted by Taydus Taydus, AHWD, CNE, CRS, GRI on September 20th, 2013 10:24 AM

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