Real estate expert talks about buying and selling flooded properties


One month after the flood, the number of homes for sale is growing. Local real estate agents report new listings are popping up every day.

The first thing in most of the property descriptions these days is either "we didn't flood" or "flooded and gutted." Then there are some homes that are being sold "as is." 

Real estate leaders said some of them are great investment properties, but they urge buyers to proceed with caution. Drive down many of the streets in the Baton Rouge Metro area and people are bound to see piles of debris, crews working to remove what's left, and homeowners working desperately to get back to what they once knew as normal.

David Spivak is one of many people struggling with what to do next - rebuild and move back in, or renovate and sell?

"The house is good. The frame is good. Everything is good. It's a shame to bulldoze something that's good. I wonder what the rest of the [neighborhood] is going be thinking," Spivak said.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners are in the same position, according to Donna Wolff, a past president of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors and a broker at ReMax Professional. 

"The stun is wearing off right now. Reality is setting in and people are now asking, what do I do," Wolff said.

Wolff said real estate listings have a similar ring to them: "Flooded in great flood of 2016" and "Flooded August 2016." Some are listed as "work in progress," while others are posted with the words "as is." 

Like one in Sherwood Forest. The description is clear. "Flooded home. Will need work currently has mold. Has not been gutted." It is listed at $164,900. Wolff said listings such as that one are going to be a tough sell.

"If you just close the doors up and leave it as is, you're probably going to have to tear it down because you'll wind up with mold growing everywhere and the house is just going to have condemned," Wolff said.

Wolff said, however, houses that are properly gutted and treated could be turned into great investment properties, but she said it is important that buyers ask for all records on the house, and do a little homework before they buy.

"Run a history. How many claims have been made on this property in the past," Wolff said.

Just because a piece of property may have flooded in the past, Wolff said that does not mean it is doomed. 

"When we go to show houses I don't know that anyone asks did this house flood in 1983. So, does the flood of 2016, is it going to matter in 15 years," Wolff said.

Spivak is still on the fence, but he said the location might convince him to stay put.

"I like living here and I do have insurance. So we can rebuild this house the way it was before. It's not going to be easy and finding contractors is tough, but it's worth it," Spivak said.

It is important to note, while there is no such thing as a "clean house certificate," realtors said they are asking sellers for lab results proving the flooded house passed a mold test before the drywall was installed.


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