WATER IN THE BASEMENT - Always a Deal Killer?

Real Estate Agent with Dean's Team - Keller Williams Realty Partners Chicago IL

Greetings, from (finally) Springlike Chicago IL!

In mid-April, an unusually-heavy, widespread rain dumped six or more inches of rain on Chicago and many suburbs. Many homeowners endured devastating flooding - 12 inches or more water rising in their basements.   Hardwood Flooring, Carpets, and, worst of all, most Cherished Keepsakes submerged for hours, then left at the curb, all trash.

Foul odors followed by intensive, often expensive clean-up and restoration.  Mildew, and mold, if not mitigated promptly. 

But even if all the damage is cleaned up, mold remediated professionally, and walls and flooring professionally restored, will your home's eventual buyers find themselves wary?  After all, if the house flooded once, it can happen again . . . right? 

Many homeowners also question whether prior seepage or flooding inside their home needs to be subsequently disclosed - even after proper remediation, and many water-free years.

Chicago Tribune Real Estate Writer Mary Umberger, in her May 3rd post, interviewed several Chicago-area Real Estate Brokers for their opinions.  Here's the link.

These agents, and our Real Estate Team, all agree - COMPLETE DISCLOSURE is not only required here in Illinois, but important in keeping any prospective sale, even years down the road, together.   Indeed, lack of disclosure can really hurt, if the buyer concludes the seller concealed the truth about previous water seepage.  If some cases, legal remedies could result against the home seller.  

Further, if the buyer believes the seller is concealing important facts about the home between contract execution and closing, they may have legal grounds for terminating their deal.  This could occur after weeks of waiting between contract signing and close.

Often times, minor to moderate seepage or even some flooding will not necessary kill a pending deal, if the buyer feels the seller's action to mitigate will reduce the chance of future water penetration.  Should the seller install a flood control system, new drain tile, additional sump pumps with battery back-up, or overhead sewers, buyer might feel confident these flood-control upgrades can prevent future water damage.

Or, if the flooding occurs infrequently in the surrounding neighborhood, the buyer may feel their risk going forward is minimal. Last month's flooding here in Chicago was quite widespread, and few Chicago Neighborhoods or Suburbs were spared.

The stigma and likelihood of regular flooding in and around such communities along the Des Plaines River in the Northwest Suburbs, and Salt Creek out West, stays with these impacted neighborhoods long-term, and do actually impact area desirability and property values.   For most other Chicago Neighborhoods and Suburbs, however, most have short memories when it comes to years-ago flooding.

That said, however, it remains our opinion that honesty IS the best policy when it comes to disclosing prior water penetration.  We suggest FULL Disclosure, as well as proper framing as to the amount of flooding that has occured over the years.

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  1. Matt Kombrink 08/10/2013 11:07 AM
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chicago area flooding april 2013
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Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Denver Broker / Author / Advocate/Short Sale

This is never any good!  Water is always that one "demon" that ruins real estate!!  Not to mention the high costs of homeowner's insurance!!


May 07, 2013 05:30 AM #1
Ridhi Raheja
Movement Mortgage (Illinois) - Naperville, IL
FHA, 203k, VA, Jumbo, PreApproval, Jumbo Home Loan

Water or flooding issues always give headaches to the sellers. It always challenging to position this in the market. 

May 16, 2013 01:43 AM #2
Eric Andrews

Very challenging, makes everyone frustrated.

Eric Andrews- Chicago Home Inspector 

May 14, 2015 05:38 AM #3
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Dean Moss

Dean's Team Chicago IL Real Estate Team
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