How Florence could affect the real estate market in the Cape Fear region

View The Original Article Here


When buying or selling a home, there are countless things to consider.

Throw in a natural disaster such as Hurricane Florence and the damage that comes with it, and the number of items on the to-do list and stress only grow.

Property owner Andrea Bowens knows that all too well.

She was supposed to close the sale on a home she owns in Kings Grant on Sept. 13, which turned out to be only hours before Florence made Landfall, andthe title offices and courthouse closed before she and the buyer could move up the closing. Bowens now lives in Raleigh, and was renting out the home, so she wasn’t in town when Florence came through, but she found out afterward that several trees were down.

When she got in touch with the buyer and the other parties involved, they said they couldn’t close on the property until the trees were removed and the lending company had a chance to come by and inspect the home.

Bowens figured out a route into Wilmington, and on Monday was clearing trees and making a plan to follow up with the buyer.

In North Carolina, buyers have the bulk of the responsibility in making sure that they know what condition a piece of property is in before they buy it. 

Jeff Terry, who is a real estate broker and home inspector for the Cape Fear region, said that there is very little onus on the seller of a home to get it re-inspected after an event like Florence, unless the property was already under contract before the storm.

In that case, the only legal requirement is that the property must be in the same “material condition” as it was before, and typically the buyer and seller will work out a solution that meets the needs of both parties.

Still, Terry said, if you are under contract on a home in the area, you should consider getting a second inspection, even if it is just for water and wind damage.

“If you’ve had it inspected, and we’ve had this storm, should you get another inspection? I would say, in most cases, yes,” He said. “There could be damage, especially if you have a crawlspace home, or a home that’s exposed to wind, trees, that sort of thing.”

Cape Fear Realtors said that from what they have seen, the real estate process is already back to moving in the right direction.

“Gratefully, we are hearing reports from brokers, lenders and insurance companies across the market, that they are responding quickly and assessing each property.” said CFR President Fred Gainey. “Buyers can get insurance policies written, so contracts are moving forward.”

Home inspector Justin Baucom said that already he has seen nearly 10 times the number of requests for a second inspection than he usually does.

Baucom said that while Florence likely inflicted mostly water and wind damage, his protocol doesn’t change going forward.

“I approach every inspection the same way,” he said.

He added, however, that people can request for a somewhat hurricane-specific inspection that just looks at the roof, crawlspace and other high-risk areas.

While Baucom said the market may see a short-term slump due to Florence, CFR and Terry said they think that ultimately, the Cape Fear region will be fine when it comes to home sales.

“People that want to move here are still going to want to move here. I’m showing properties Friday, and I’m showing properties Saturday. So, we’re back,” Terry said. “Our buyers are going to be concerned about homes that flooded, and areas that might flood in the future, they’re probably going to have other concerns about pine trees, that sort of thing. So we’ll have another concern in the mix of the countless concerns that we already deal with.”

CFR CEO Taylor Oldroyd said that historically, storms like Florence have not had a long-term effect on the housing market.

“Beach communities understand that storms are a part of the fabric of living on the coast.  The fact is, Wilmington and surrounding counties will continue to be a very desirable place to live, work and play,” Oldroyd said.  “Our area will need to continue to address the availability and affordability of housing. The storm didn’t change that.”