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Seller’s Guide: Expert Shares Flood Disclosure Tips

Anyone looking to sell their home after Hurricane Ian pushed water into it may have a few things to disclose.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As homeowners across Florida grapple with flooding from Hurricane Ian, some may be wonder if it’s time to sell.

A real estate expert says there’s one thing they can’t ignore: disclosures.

“Unless you were a vampire bat and were hanging out on the roof, you wouldn’t know if you had hail damage,” said Cindy Tomassetti, Engel & Volkers associate realtor. “I had a house that I sold recently that had a small hail damaged area at the top of the roof.”

Tomassetti has seen it all when it comes to buying and selling, and she knows firsthand what sellers need to follow.

She says if there’s an obvious problem, salespeople don’t need to take notice.

“Going up this driveway, this crack here, easily observable,” Tomassetti said. “I don’t need to reveal it. If my front door was missing, easily observable.”

But some damage is not easily observable, such as flood damage.

This is where sellers need to be careful.

“Did the seller know? Does this affect the value of the house? Did the seller try to hide it?”

Tomassetti says if the answer is yes to these questions, the seller could be liable for fraud, which could mean hefty fines or legal action.

For any new homeowners who weren’t expecting flooding from Hurricane Ian, she says, now might be a good time to double-check what they were told when signing.

“If a situation has arisen where they don’t believe the seller is completely truthful, they should go back and see if there was any disclosure,” Tomassetti said.

For any homeowners who might be willing to move out after the water hits the doorstep, she says now is the time to keep track of what they are paying.

“Did they have to bring someone in to fix it? They need to disclose that,” Tomassetti said. “Have they filed an insurance claim? Absolutely need to disclose it.

Tomassetti says if she could make one point, it’s to get a qualified inspector before you buy, even if it’s new construction.

This will make the process, and the potential fallout, less stressful for both parties.