Fishhawk Lake Real Estate-The Aftermath From a Flood
In some areas of the country, you worry about hurricanes, or snow for months, or other forms of nature that can wreak havoc on a community. As a realtor you sometimes get forced into becoming an expert about dealing with what happens after Acts of God. Never in my wildest dreams did I have the goal of learning about floodplains. But, real estate presents a constant learning curve, so if you’re going to be successful you better be ready to learn, ALWAYS. Floods--the aftermaths and how it relates to insurance can be one of those painful conversations you have with potential buyers as well as sellers, trying to list or buy a property in a floodplain.
In our little town of Vernonia, Oregon, where my real estate office is located, they got hit with TWO floods in 1996 and 2007, which in a 100-year floodplain, in theory, isn’t supposed to happen. But, it DID. TWICE in almost exactly 10 years.(Photo taken of Vernonia school under water along main street in Vernonia)
In 2007, it also hit the area I reside in, Fishhawk Lake. In a short span of about 4 and a half hours, due to a “perfect storm” (as some called it later), about 75 homes on the lake were flooded for the first and only time. Considering that Fishhawk Lake is mostly a vacation area, where only about 20% of the 300+ lots are owned by full timers, this meant that on that fateful December day, most weren’t here to protect their properties. What a horrific day. Roads were taken out, mudslides happened, boats, docks and other items plummeted over the spillway, and came out the other side under our dam. (My photo of the spillway,located on the left before the flood. The fishladder is to the right The spillway and fishladder still exist).
(Photo by Gayle Rich-Boxman Copyrighted All Rights Reserved)
This was the beginning of my second year in real estate. I thought, “Well, there goes MY career!” Amazingly, I was able to stay afloat (sorry about the bad pun) and keep my burgeoning business going. However, the repercussions were enormous for some. With no flood insurance AND often a second home, some just couldn’t fix their places up and ended up selling AS IS. The one below had water that wicked up to the ceiling. This photo was taken on July 4th 2007,(before the flood it was listed) and only a few months later, it was almost completely ruined inside. The owner, an older gentleman had moved out months earlier and had been living here fulltime, after he built this himself. I sold it to a cash buyer years later, who completely refurbished it.
Others bit the bullet and remodeled. (This home had been remodeled and was ready to go on the market in 2007 and they got flooded. They have done extensive remodeling again and it is once again on the market!)
As owners decided to sell, if they'd had flood damage, I asked them to write about it in their own words, what happened and what was fixed and how. This honest disclosure has been received favorably by buyers. But, the costs of flood insurance with “re-zoning” can vary widely. This is where, with each property, you learn something about how to deal with floodplains and all that this entails.
Honestly? Not everyone has the answers. Each insurance agent can tell you something different. Be careful, as a consumer. Do your due diligence. Floodsmart.gov is one site to visit to determine your own quotes. There are agents out there who’ve had to deal with this in the past and I would suggest you call them, rather than your regular agent who may not be a specialist in the inner workings of flood-damaged homes and FEMA standards and whatnot. The agent on your primary home may have no prior experience with flood damage, and may cause you to pay ridiculous amounts of coverage that an agent with a history of dealing with flooded properties may not. Just because you have an insurance agent handling your car and home “in town”, doesn’t mean that you will get a cut rate if you bundle your vacation home into the already established package. You can sometimes “grandfather” in old insurance policy pricing if you go through the necessary steps. It can buy you time for a couple of years at least, before it gets bumped up to (potentially) exorbitant amounts.
As a realtor at Fishhawk Lake for over six years who has dealt with this both personally and professionally, I may not have all of the answers, but I certainly know some experts who can help us BOTH get those for you.