Losing your hard-earned property to fire damage can be overwhelming. But at Priority Home Buyers, we can help you sail through with effective solutions.
From understanding the impact of fire damage on the market value of your house to navigating insurance claims and repairs, this informative guide has got you covered. We’ll also share practical tips to unveil the hidden potential of a fire-damaged house, thereby helping you attract potential buyers.
So, whether you’re a homeowner looking to move on or an investor seeking a lucrative opportunity, we’ll support you and turn a challenging situation into a rewarding selling experience.
What Should You Do With A House After A Fire?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), about 358,300 house fire damages occur in the USA, and more than 3,000 Americans die in house fires every year.
Moreover, repairing fire damage costs around 12 billion annually. On top of that, Christmas tree fires cost about $17.5 million in damages each year. According to a survey, most of these residential fires are caused by electrical systems (36.3%) and cooking (32.4%).
Naturally, the aftermath of a house fire is disheartening, but it’s crucial not to lose hope. Amid the multitude of uncertainties that arise, it can be challenging to determine the next steps. However, once the fire is extinguished and you’re safe, it is imperative to take prompt and resolute action to minimize any additional harm.
To begin with, prior to re-entering your fire-damaged home, you must obtain permission from the local fire department. Rushing inside to salvage belongings without proper authorization can be dangerous, considering the underlying structural damage caused by the house fire.
Once the authorities have declared it safe, make an effort to retrieve essential documents and belongings, if feasible.
Ensure the protection of the fire-damaged house from adverse weather conditions and vandalism. Depending on the extent of the fire damage, it may be necessary to contact utility providers to disconnect electricity and water services.
Reach out to your homeowner’s insurance company to initiate the claims process and explore available options. They can assist you in securing temporary housing while your burned home undergoes inspection by the insurance adjuster.
Note that it is important for the insurance adjuster to assess and document the extent of fire damage thoroughly.
Accordingly, the insurance company may offer either the replacement cost or the actual cash value of your home. However, it is worth noting that in certain jurisdictions, assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may be available for house fires caused by wildfires. So, check if this factor applies to your situation.
Keep in mind that the insurance payout can be used for fire damage restoration if desired. So, engage qualified contractors specializing in fire damage restoration to effectively clean up firefighting residue, soot, water, smoke odor, etc.
Some restoration contractors also provide renovation services, which can help restore your house to its former glory.
Should You Repair The Damage Or Sell The Fire Damaged House?
Before we answer this question, here are some questions you should answer to determine the right course of action:
- What is the extent of the damage caused by the fire?
- What is the cause of the fire?
- How long would it take to restore the condition of your fire-damaged house?
- How much will it cost to repair fire damage?
- Will you be able to afford the restoration and repair costs?
- Are you emotionally attached to the damaged house?
Accordingly, if you have the time and money to proceed with the repairs of your fire-damaged house, we recommend doing so. If not, it is best to sell the house as is.
Does A House Lose Value After A Fire?
With the required repairs and cleaning, it is indeed possible to reinstate the complete value of your house. This necessitates the services of construction companies and experienced contractors specializing in restoring fire-damaged properties. They possess the necessary expertise to effectively address the damage, ensuring that it is virtually indistinguishable from its original state.
How To Repair A Burned House?
The average restoration costs of fire and smoke damage in the US is $12,900, and the amount can go up to $72,300.
Given the costly nature of major repairs, it is crucial to engage a skilled and knowledgeable fire damage restoration contractor with ample experience in rehabilitating fire-damaged houses. Plus, we highly recommend contacting your insurance agent, as they may be able to provide recommendations for professionals capable of meeting your specific requirements.
Repairing Fire Damage
Start off with a comprehensive evaluation by a certified home inspector, distinct from the inspection carried out by the insurance adjuster previously.
Note that fires have the potential to inflict concealed damage that may not be immediately apparent. For example, the intense heat can dry out and weaken wooden beams.
Additionally, fire-damaged homes can have cracks in the basement walls, exposing the underlying steel and compromising the overall structural stability.
In case of significant property damage, it may be best to contact different types of inspectors for mechanical (HVAC), structural, electrical, and plumbing. To effectively address the fire damage, the inspection should cover the following areas:
- Roof: Inspect the rafters for potential weakening due to the fire or water retention from firefighting efforts.
- Paint: Look for blisters and smoke damage on painted surfaces.
- Appliances: Check appliances for water damage, even if they appear undamaged from the fire.
- Windows: Assess the window frames for integrity and examine the glass for signs of warping and discoloration caused by the fire’s heat.
- Structural Framing: Open up floorboards and wallboards to inspect the floor joists and wall framing for possible structural damage.
- Gas Lines: Examine gas lines thoroughly to detect any leaks that could pose a fire hazard.
- Heating And Ventilation Systems (HVAC): Check the ductwork for any smoke residue and assess the HVAC system for potential damage.
- Electrical Wiring: Inspect the electrical system to ensure it is safe and free from fire-related issues.
- Plumbing Systems: Evaluate the condition of plumbing pipes and fixtures for any damage caused by the fire.
By addressing these areas, you can ensure a thorough assessment of the fire damage and plan for appropriate repairs and restoration.
Following the assessment, the restoration contractor will understand the extent of the project, the estimated timeline, and the overall cost. However, it is important to note that renovating a fire-damaged property poses significant challenges, and unexpected repairs may arise in the future.
If the inspectors determine the damage is extensive to the point where major repairs cannot restore the home to its pre-fire condition, demolition might be the only option. Subsequently, you can opt to sell the property as a vacant lot to real estate investors who may be interested in holding it for the long term.
Next, the contractor will take measures to secure the property, which may involve erecting fences and sealing off any openings in the structure. Tarpaulins may be utilized to cover exposed areas of the roof, preventing water infiltration and safeguarding the overall structure from inclement weather.
If certain sections of the house remain unaffected by the fire, even if it is just a small portion, it is imperative to isolate and seal off those areas. This precautionary step helps prevent contamination and further damage from spreading throughout the property.
The subsequent task is to eliminate the water that remains from firefighting efforts, aiming to prevent the growth of mold and wood rot. It is equally important to address any potential toxic residues that may be present if chemical extinguishers were used, ensuring their thorough removal.
After ensuring the structure is thoroughly dried, opt for an extensive cleanup process. This should include the removal of all fire-damaged drywall, ceilings, flooring, and other affected materials. Every inch of the impacted areas, especially within ventilation systems, should be meticulously cleaned to eliminate smoke and soot, which can pose various health risks.
To completely eradicate the lingering smoke odor, deodorizing agents can be employed. Moreover, if required, antimicrobial chemicals may be applied to sanitize the area and prevent mold growth. Clothing, furniture, curtains, and drapes should also undergo cleaning and deodorization processes to restore their freshness.
Based on the extent of fire damage, certain parts of the structure may require rebuilding, while others may only require essential repairs. Plus, some areas of the house may need retrofitting to restore it to its pre-fire condition.
Even after restoring the property to its former state, it is crucial to maintain transparency with potential buyers about previous fire damage. Honesty is key, as buyers are likely to walk away from a deal if they discover you were not fully forthcoming—and they will inevitably find out in due course.
So, as long as your contractor has performed a remarkable restoration and renovation, the new owners should not encounter any future complications.
Why You Should Repair A House With Fire Damage
If you have the resources, both in terms of time and finances, considering the extent of the fire damage, it is best to repair the fire-damaged property. Doing so can result in a higher asking price compared to leaving the repairs for the buyer to handle.
If obtaining a loan is necessary to fund the repairs, it is crucial to evaluate the financial implications carefully. Calculate the potential increase in the asking price and weigh it against the costs, including not only the repairs themselves but also the associated closing costs.
This analysis will help determine if the investment is worthwhile and if you will still be able to generate a profit from the sale.
When Should You Sell A Fire Damaged House?
An alternative to repairing a fire-damaged home is selling it. However, this is advisable only if the extent of fire damage is substantial and you cannot afford to restore the property to its original state. Consequently, you may choose to list your home as is for sale.
Do keep in mind, though, that selling a fire-damaged house in its current condition can present multiple challenges.
Possible Challenges While Selling Fire Damaged Property
To begin with, the pool of potential buyers for your fire-damaged house will be considerably smaller. Finding experienced home buyers willing to undertake a project with fire damage will require additional effort and research on your part.
Furthermore, you will need to compensate the buyer for the necessary repairs to your fire-damaged home. This often leads experienced home buyers to negotiate aggressively, attempting to drive down the selling price significantly. As a result, you may not be able to achieve a fair market value for your property.
Lastly, fire-damaged houses can be off-putting for some home buyers, as it may hinder their ability to secure a loan from a mortgage lender. So, your best option is to seek out buyers willing to pay cash.
Why You Should Sell A Fire-Damaged Property As Is
Despite the potential obstacles involved in selling a fire-damaged home, sometimes circumstances may leave you with no alternative. Here are six reasons why:
- Insurance Coverage: Depending on your insurance company and coverage, selling the damaged home may be the most practical solution recommended by your insurance agent.
- Safety Concerns: The safety hazards associated with the fire damage may make it impractical or risky to continue living in the house.
- Relocation Requirements: Family circumstances, job changes, and other factors may necessitate a prompt move to a different location.
- Financial Limitations: Your financial situation may not allow you to afford the necessary repairs and restoration costs.
- Emotional Attachment: The emotional toll of the fire incident may make it difficult for you to continue residing on the property.
- Time Constraints: Restoring a fire-damaged home can be a time-consuming process, which may not align with your commitments.
How To Determine A Fair Market Value Of Fire-Damaged Houses
- Contact Real Estate Investors
Opting to sell your fire-damaged home to a real estate investor offers a speedy resolution. These investors specialize in identifying potential in distressed properties and are accustomed to the necessary work involved in restoring them.
Attending local real estate investor meetups provides an excellent opportunity to connect with these individuals. Selling a house on your own can be an overwhelming and draining process, making a real estate investor with a fair cash offer your pathway to escape this challenging situation.
- Opt For The For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Route
By approaching a suitable buyer, you may end up bypassing the involvement of real estate agents and the accompanying commissions they charge. However, it is important to note that taking this route grants you complete control over the selling process.
Consequently, you will be responsible for marketing the property, negotiating the terms, and facilitating the closing of the deal. So, be prepared for a flurry of inquiries from prospective buyers, each presenting their cash offer.
It is essential to have all the necessary details about your house and the fire incident readily available, as a cash buyer will engage in direct negotiations with you. Being well-prepared with this information will facilitate smoother discussions and transactions.
- Determine The Severity Of The House Fire Damage
To gain insight into the severity of the fire damage, it is imperative to obtain an incident report from the respective fire departments.
That said, selling a fire-damaged house can prove challenging, particularly if the damage is substantial. However, properties with minor damage may have better prospects in the real estate market.
What To Keep In Mind Before Selling A House Damaged With Fire
Whether you are selling a fire-damaged house or repairing it, here are some points to keep in mind:
- Patience Is Key
Imagine the amount of effort and time it takes to sell a house. Now, double that, and that’s how much patience you’ll need to sell a fire-damaged property. Of course, that’s a bummer, but each buyer’s curiosity is understandable – after all, it’s their money at stake!
So, expect prospective buyers to ask you multiple questions about the various aspects of your property. Occasionally, they might even ask to bring in their own inspectors.
In such situations, you must be accommodating and willingly facilitate their requests to win their confidence. If safe and feasible, take them on a guided tour of your house.
- Track The Restoration Process
Maintain a detailed record of all the restoration activities carried out and the costs involved. It is beneficial to capture photographs and organize all receipts and invoices. Doing so can help you determine the eventual selling price in case you choose to delay the sale of your house.
- Honesty Is The Best Policy
The process of selling a house, as well as real estate in general, relies heavily on trust. So, it is important to communicate openly with the buyer about any incidents or problems that have occurred on the property. If possible, provide them with an understanding of the causes behind each issue.
Withholding information from buyers, no matter how small or insignificant, is not recommended, as they are likely to discover such details eventually. Remember – transparency is key in fostering trust in the real estate business.
- Does the homeowner’s insurance cover fire damage?
The homeowner’s insurance policy covers your residence and personal belongings against various risks, including fire damage. In the event of an accidental fire caused by factors like electrical issues or cooking, your homeowner’s insurance claim can reimburse you for the resulting loss.
Further, if your house sustains significant damage from a fire and you require temporary accommodation elsewhere, your policy can cover expenses for temporary lodging, relocation, etc.
- Is it important to disclose fire damage to potential buyers?
A seller’s disclosure is a written document that details the condition of the property before it is sold. Typically prepared by the seller’s real estate agent, it provides information regarding the property’s background, current state, and any known defects. Accompanying the disclosure document is a seller’s disclosure form which must be acknowledged by the prospective buyer after understanding the information provided within.
Although the requirement of a seller’s disclosure varies by state, it is generally considered best to offer this information to buyers, regardless of legal obligations. Buyers can utilize the seller’s disclosure to make informed decisions about whether to proceed with the purchase of the property. It can also be used to negotiate or ask the seller to address necessary repairs before the closing.
- Is it a good idea to buy fire-damaged properties?
Purchasing a house that has undergone renovation following a fire can yield significant cost savings, provided the property is deemed safe. Fire-damaged homes often offer a higher return on investment due to their undervalued status.
Nonetheless, if the house has not yet undergone repairs, the actual cost of renovation may be lower than initially estimated. Plus, buyers have the flexibility to make layout changes to the property if extensive renovations are required.
- What to know about buying a house that had a fire?
Those who want to buy fire-damaged houses must arrange a full-home inspection by a professional before sealing the deal. Here are the top ten factors you should be cautious about:
- Cracks in exterior materials
- Hidden plumbing damage
- Extensive structural damage
- Damp basement walls
- Warped frames, floors, and trim
- Toxic black mold
- Contaminated ductwork
- Asbestos in older homes
- Dangerous electrical wiring
- Soot, smoke stains, and odors
To Sum Up
Selling a house damaged by fire comes with its unique challenges, but it is not impossible.
By following the right steps and approaches, homeowners can navigate the process successfully. Start by undertaking major repairs to restore the condition of the property. Also, maintain open communication with potential buyers, as trust plays a significant role in real estate transactions.
It is also wise to document the restoration process, take photographs, and organize receipts to determine a fair price for the fire-damaged house. Plus, understanding the coverage provided by homeowners insurance and utilizing it effectively can help alleviate financial burdens.
With proper planning, patience, and the right mindset, selling a fire-damaged house can be a rewarding endeavor.