"We tell people to follow the same advice we always give our clients,” said Ms. Holmquist. “Make a realistic assessment of your situation and develop a well thought-out response.”
Noting that only a year ago people were digging out from a catastrophic blizzard and just 16 months ago that they were dealing with Hurricane Irene, Ms. Holmquist acknowledged that there are different levels of disaster.
“If a home has suffered catastrophic damage, that’s a special discussion and everyone’s first concern needs to be the safety and welfare of you and your family,” she said. “Most of the homes in this area, however, suffered damage ranging from minor to significant, but not catastrophic.”
For homes suffering from missing siding and roof shingles, damage from trees, and damp basements, Ms. Holmquist offered three suggestions for buyers and sellers:
1. Be safe. No house is worth getting injured. Follow guidelines from local safety authorities and from FEMA. Make sure the home is safe. Check for structural damage, broken glass or flood waters. Treat all downed power lines as live and be certain no gas lines are leaking. Keep the power off until you’re certain the electrical system is safe. Listen to experts’ guidance about structural damage, appliances damaged by water or electrical surges, contaminated food and other flooding results. Keep in mind that wildlife may also seek shelter in the home, so watch for them. Check for local disaster assistance information on the web. Morris County homebuyers and sellers, for instance, can go to http://www.morrisoem.org or call (973) 829-8600. Check also your municipality’
2. If needed, enlist the help of professionals, including your Realtor and your insurance agent. Your insurance agent may be able to help you recover some damages. Both professionals can recommend electricians, plumbers, engineers and others who can confirm that the home is safe and its systems are working properly. Be careful of scam artists.
3. Work with your Realtor to determine your next steps.
If you’re selling, decide together whether your home needs to come off the market while you make repairs and how that will impact the sale. You and your agent will need to discuss whether any changes in disclosure are necessary.
Buyers with their eye on that now-damaged perfect home will need to work with their agent to run down facts that will help decide if the home is still perfect. Your Realtor can help determine how best to move forward. If a contract is already is in place, your Realtor can help navigate negotiations.
“Every case is different,” Ms. Holmquist said. “We have clients taking their homes off the market while being repaired and others who feel they can make their repairs quickly. We have some buyers who are asking about moving forward with a purchase on a damaged home for some extra consideration since they know they’ll be putting a lot of work into the home anyway. Like other situations in real estate, you have to put emotions aside to determine how to go forward.”
Ms. Holmquist said she and members of her team are available to answer questions without obligation. The team can be reached at http://www.theholmquistteam.net or by calling (908) 867-7109.