Realtors warn of risks associated with buying remodeled flooded homes

WALKER, LA (WAFB) - The August 2016 flood has created a big market for investors looking to buy, flip, and sell properties, but experts warn if you are buying a remodeled flood home, you should proceed with caution.

Erin Horzelski and her family settled into a brick home just off the interstate in Walker several years ago. "I love this area as far as we are just outside of East Baton Rouge, but adjacent to the freeway. It's easy to get anywhere," Horzelski said.

But last July, Horzelski said she put her house on the market to be closer to Hammond, where she now works. Four weeks later, it flooded. Horzelski said the home took on nearly three feet of water. After $98,000 in repairs and upgrades, they relisted the property, but the description of the home is now slightly different.

"We've been very upfront. It says right at the very beginning that it's a remodel from the flood," Horzelski said.

The home has new granite counter tops, appliances, and floors. Horzelski's realtor, Matt Noel, says the house is essentially brand new on the inside, but it took a lot of work to get it done correctly. "It was a process, involved multiple professionals as far as getting it cleaned, water mitigated, moisture mitigated, professionals testing it, and contracting companies coming in to rehab it," Noel said.

Noel says if you do not have the proper proof, your house could be a tough sell. The state requires that sellers fill out and sign a property disclosure form. It asks questions about structural damage, termites, and flooding, but it does not ask specific questions pertaining to the August flood.

President of the Greater Baton Rouge Board of Realtors, Ginger Maulden, says after the flood she created a flood addendum, which she includes in every purchase agreement. It asks the seller things like:

  • Did the water rise above the slab?
  • How long was it in the house?
  • Was it tested for moisture and mold?

Maulden says she also asks for the documents to back up these claims. "The insurance company has probably already gone out and made an itemized list of things that need to be done," Maulden said.

Maulden urges buyers to ask for that list and any data FEMA may have collected during inspection. She says if you take the buyer's word for it, there might not be much you can do if you run into problems later.

"They have to prove the seller was aware of something that was not disclosed. It's probably not an easy thing to do," Maulden said.

The Horzelskis and their realtor say they have got the paperwork ready. All they need is a buyer. "It's frustrating only in the sense I'm not going to be here to enjoy the home," Horzelski said.

For more information, visit the Greater Baton Rouge Board of Realtors.

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