A year after the winter storm damaged thousands of homes, real estate agents and local inspectors say the damage it caused is still influencing the questions buyers have about homes.
The storm covered Texas with inches of ice and snow. Families have endured nine days of sub-freezing temperatures and weeks of power and water outages and bursting pipes. Some families have spent months cleaning up flood damage and filing insurance claims.
“It was crazy. It was sad,” real estate broker Shana Acquisto said.
Acquisto shared their experience with a house listed for sale that suffered significant damage.
“I think the tally was 11 pipes broke during registration. So it was crazy, you know, and water everywhere,” Acquisto said.
A year later, she’s encouraging all of her buyers to ask one simple question that could save them money and heartache.
“Have you lost power? So they kind of know how to inspect,” Acquisto said.
If the answer is yes, home inspector Lee Warren said buyers should ask for proof the repairs were made.
“Look for evidence of previous repairs, drywall repairs, fresh paint, things of that nature, while you’re making your first visit,” Warren said. “When you do your initial visit, look around these areas of the bathroom, not just the shower wall or the wall, but look at the trim all the way down to the baseboard. At the bottom you can see if anything thing has been water damaged because alot of them are particle board.And they don’t expand and retract quite as they would like.But that’s usually a good sign of the place where you can find damage.
Warren said the owners faced several challenges trying to recover, while dealing with power outages and a shortage of contractors and supplies.
“Did people really pay attention to what their insurance was going to cover? And that was another huge issue. A lot of people go for the cheapest insurance possible and they don’t get certain endorsements on their insurance, including water damage and that sort of thing and unfortunately a lot of people have been victims of that and they have been left alone,” he said.
He said buyers might be able to find hidden damage by asking insurance companies for a CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report.
“It’s like a Carfax for homes,” Warren said.
A CLUE report is a five to seven year history of property damage claims made by the policyholder. Certain claims, including water damage, can impact a buyer’s ability to insure a property. Sellers can also request one to see if the claims history is accurate.
Warren and Acquisto said the storm inspired some owners to make improvements. Many people have looked for ways to weatherproof their homes and have installed generators, tankless water heaters, and more cold-tolerant landscaping.
Warren said he and other inspectors have started spending more time showing buyers where they can find water shutoff valves and pointing out uninsulated water pipes and water heaters next door. exterior walls that are at greater risk of freezing.
“It’s like, okay, how many people are actually fixing the problem? Or are they just glossing over the report, which unfortunately tends to happen a lot,” Warren said. .
But at least they know what they’re buying. Acquisto said the market is so competitive that some buyers have been tempted to skip inspections.
“People buy on sight,” Acquisto said.
She said it was better for both parties to take a little more time to do their due diligence.
“Protect your investment, you don’t want to find out later, after the close, some of these issues that may have really impacted your decision to go ahead or not,” she said.
Acquisto also said to make sure the home isn’t subject to any lawsuits or builder’s or seller’s liens. These are issues that should come up during work on the title, but knowing early in the process could make a difference to potential buyers.
Sellers’ statements should also list any material facts or issues buyers need to be aware of. She said asking ahead can still educate buyers and hold other parties accountable if there are damages that are not disclosed.