Property Damage Issues

Can you sell a home with water damage?

You’re back from vacation to an unpleasant surprise: The faucet has been leaking the entire time you’ve been gone, leaving a giant mess in the kitchen. Or perhaps it’s hurricane season, and your house has taken a beating, leading to standing water throughout the property.

Written by: Kristin Lesko
Posted: 03/20/2023

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You’re back from vacation to an unpleasant surprise: The faucet has been leaking the entire time you’ve been gone, leaving a giant mess in the kitchen. Or perhaps it’s hurricane season, and your house has taken a beating, leading to standing water throughout the property.

Read more: Can you sell a home with water damage?

Whatever the situation, water damage is a homeowner’s nightmare and can be costly to repair. If you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, can you sell your house with water damage? We’ll discuss what your obligations are as a homeowner.

Types of water damage

Not all water damage is created equally. After all, an entire first floor succumbing to flooding is not the same as a leaky faucet in the bathroom. Repairing water damage can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Generally, there are three categories of water damage:

  • Clean water: The most ideal of situations, clean water damage is water that has not come in contact with any contaminants, like chemicals or human waste. Clean water damage includes leaks from faucets, toilet tanks, or the water heater. It costs around $3 to $4 per square foot to fix, and the majority of the work is drying out the area.
  • Gray water: Next up is water that may have come into contact with contaminants like cleaning supplies or food. The cost goes up to $4 to $7 a square foot, but it will also depend on the material that was damaged. For example, hardwood flooring would be much more costly to repair than tile or drywall.
  • Black water: Black water has come into contact with contaminants like sewage or groundwater. Should this be the case, homeowners will need to dry out and repair the area and take into consideration the health risks involved. As a result, homeowners shouldn’t try to fix this themselves. When black water gets into a home, you’ll have to remove and throw out drywall, furniture, carpeting, and other belongings that have come into contact with the water. Simply drying it out will not do the job. A homeowner would be looking at up to $7.50 a square foot, and that’s before the cost of replacing your belongings that have become contaminated.

If the water damage is not fixed quickly, the problem may worsen and require mold remediation.

Water damage disclosure

Where you live will determine whether you are required by law to disclose water damage to prospective buyers.

Being a coastal state, you may be surprised to learn that in the state of Florida, homeowners are not required to disclose any flood damage to prospective buyers.

It is unexpected for potential buyers, given that Florida is divided into flood zones, that there is no obligation to reveal any past water damage. That said, it is required that homeowners share information about the condition of the home that could greatly impact its value. One could argue that any sort of water damage, including flooding, would fall under this.

Florida Realtors® have a disclosure form that homeowners can fill out voluntarily to disclose this and other information.

Even though it’s not on the books that homeowners disclose flood damage, there are talks by Florida lawmakers to change this and make it mandatory to report.

Georgia homeowners also have no legal obligation to report flood damage to a buyer. The Georgia Association of Realtors has a voluntary disclosure form as well for sellers to fill out to keep interested buyers in the loop of any flooding that has occurred.

In Alabama, the same is true — it’s not required by law to report flood damage, and the state Realtors association also created a voluntary disclosure statement. Also, the state of Alabama requires that an inspection be done on all used real estate before a sale is finalized.

Honesty is the best policy

According to the National Resources Defense Council, one-third of states don’t have laws that require disclosure of flood damage to prospective buyers.

Depending on the extent of the damage, this can lead to buyers spending thousands of dollars on fixing problems they were kept in the dark about — and possibly lead to a lawsuit against the sellers.

The organization encourages states to make this information mandatory to promote transparency between the seller and potential buyers, especially since this is one of the most important purchases anyone will ever make.

While you may not be legally bound to share details about water damage, it’s always best to be truthful. Information will come out during the inspection, and it’s not a good look to appear deceitful or secretive. Also, you could be in legal trouble if the buyer feels you withheld important information.

Would anyone buy a house with water damage?

Just because a house has water damage or needs repairs doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to sell. However, you do need to keep in mind that the value of the house will be lower. There are investors looking to purchase fixer-uppers and put it back on the market after making repairs. Or if the flood damage is bad enough, investors may need to demolish the structure and rebuild if the land is enticing.

Compare the potential profit lost from selling your house at a lower price to the money needed for repairs. Assess the water damage in your home to determine the pros and cons.

Selling your house with flood damage

If your property does have water damage, it can be difficult to sell and too costly to fix on your own. That’s where homebuying companies like Meridian Trust come in. We have years of experience buying homes in all sorts of conditions. Trust us when we say that we’ve seen it all.

With a free consultation, Meridian Trust can quickly examine the property and provide an estimate to help you decide if you’d like to move forward with the sale. You don’t have to make any changes to your home. If we’re able to buy your property, we buy it “as is.”

For more information about selling your home with water damage, call Meridian Trust at (954) 807-9087.

Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to from this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.

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