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Florida Real Estate Climate Change Concerns: What to Look for Before You Buy a Home in the Sunshine State

Fears about Florida real estate climate change shouldn’t stop your homebuying plans. These strategies will help you keep your new home secure.

October 10, 2022
October 10, 2022
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Florida real estate climate change concerns may become increasingly common for homebuyers. After all, Florida is a wonderful place to live, but the threat of major storms and flooding may make some nervous about committing to a home purchase here.

The good news is, climate change doesn’t need to scare you off your Florida homebuying dreams. In fact, there are ways to be a savvy homebuyer and find your perfect home while also reducing your vulnerability to storms.

Ready to buy your Florida home? Get started here.

How to mitigate Florida real estate climate change risks

No one can control the weather. How strong future storms are is largely out of homeowners’ control.

But what you can control is how well you prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters. And the more prepared you are, the more time you have to simply enjoy your home.

Here’s how to get started.

Schedule a home inspection

Home inspections are optional, unlike home appraisals, which your lender will require to approve your mortgage loan. But you don’t want to skip this step, because an inspection can reveal potential problems an appraisal will not.

For instance, water damage from past flood scan be covered up with paint. A good inspector will know to look for signs of water damage even if the previous owners painted over it. If water damage exists, it’s important to find out how extensive it is.

Was it properly remedied previously? Or has it led to rot and mold in the home? Your inspector should help you identify these issues before you commit to buying the house.

Depending on the age of your home, Florida law may require you to get a wind mitigation inspection. A wind mitigation inspection will focus on the age of the roof, the type of straps used on the roof, and the length of nails used. All of these affect the degree of windspeed your roof can handle, which is hugely important during hurricane season.

Insurance companies offer discounts and incentives for homebuyers whose roofs are built with features such as long nails and double strap ties.

Related reading: Home inspection checklist: What to look for when buying a house

Find out whether you have hurricane-impact windows

Windows are another area of concern for homebuyers. Again, your inspector can help you determine the level of protection the windows in the home offer. Recent regulation changes require new homes to be built with storm windows that are resilient to hurricanes.

But older homes may not have storm windows, so you’ll want to look into the cost of replacing old windows with someone more protective. Investing in replacement windows for an entire home is a big expense.

However, putting in storm windows may help reduce your insurance costs. It can also give you peace of mind, knowing that your home is more likely to withstand a hurricane once the new windows are in.

Window protection on a budget

If brand new windows aren’t in your budget, there are less expensive options. Importantly, you may qualify for insurance discounts simply by having some of these cheaper options installed.

Consider checking out local secondhand stores for storm shutters, as you may be able to find durable shutters at a discounted price. They may not be as strong as brand-new, storm-proof windows, but they do add a layer of protection.

You can also install metal sheeting over the windows, which insurance companies may provide discounts for as well.

In a pinch, you can also nail plywood over the windows when a storm is coming, which many Floridians do. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing option, but it can provide a buffer against Mother Nature.

Research local flood zones

You’ll want to determine whether the home is in a flood zone, which can affect your insurance rates. Even if you aren’t in a flood zone and aren’t required to have flood insurance, you may want to consider a flood insurance policy.

In recent years, major storms have caused flooding in inland areas that were outside of flood zones. Homeowners who don’t have coverage for flood damage could face tens of thousands of dollars in repair bills.

Fortunately, if your house is not in a flood zone but you purchase flood insurance, the price tag for that coverage may be more affordable than you think.

I live in the Ft. Lauderdale area, outside a flood zone, and my flood insurance premium is about $400 annually. That’s a relatively affordable amount to know my home is protected if a major hurricane occurs and my home suffers flood damage.

Make note of the trees on the property

Oftentimes, Floridians have at least a few days’ notice before a hurricane hits. If there’s a potential storm coming, take a look at the trees on your property. Better still, do this before hurricane season even begins. If there are branches especially close to your house or the trees need a trim, have them cut back from the property.

You’ll also want to take note of any coconut palms on or near your property. Think about 120-mile-per-hour winds coming through and slamming a coconut into your home or car. They can do a lot of damage, so get those branches cut back well before a storm hits.

The bottom line on Florida real estate climate change concerns

I’ll level with you: Florida real estate climate change concerns are legitimate because you want to buy a property that you can enjoy – and which will grow in value – for years to come. But climate change risks need not interfere with your Florida homebuying plans.

With the right inspector, proper due diligence, and a proactive mindset, you can buy and protect your dream Florida home.

Get started today.  

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