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A Home seller's guide: Expert shares tips on flood disclosure

Anyone looking to sell their home after Hurricane Ian pushed water into it may have a few things that need to be disclosed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As homeowners across Florida grapple with flooding from Hurricane Ian, some may be wondering if it's time to sell.

A real estate expert says there's one thing they can't overlook - disclosures.

"Unless you're a vampire bat, and you're hanging out on the roof, you wouldn't know if you had hail damage," said Engel & Volkers Real Estate Broker Associate Cindy Tomassetti. "I had a house I sold recently that had a small area of hail damage at the peak of the roof."

Tomassetti has seen it all when it comes to buying and selling, and she knows first hand how much sellers need to keep track of.

She says if there is an obvious issue, sellers don't need to take note of it.

"Walking up this driveway, this crack right here, readily observable," said Tomassetti. "I don't need to disclose this. If my front door was missing, readily observable."

But some damage isn't readily observable, like flood damage.

That's where sellers need to be careful.

"Did the seller know about it? Does it affect the value of the house? Did the seller try to conceal it?"

Tomassetti says if the answer is yes to those questions, the seller could be liable for fraud, which could mean large fines or legal action.

For any new homeowners who weren't expecting flooding from Hurricane Ian, she says now could be a good time to check what they were told about when they signed.

"If a situation has presented itself where they don't think the seller is completely truthful, they should go back and look if there was a disclosure," said Tomassetti.

For any homeowners who may be ready to move after water made it over the front step, she says now is the time to keep track of what they're paying for.

"Did they have to get someone in to fix it? They need to disclose it," said Tomassetti. "Did they file an insurance claim? Absolutely need to disclose it."

Tomassetti says if she could make one point stick, it's to get a qualified inspector in before you buy, even if it's new construction.

That'll make the process, and potential fall out, less stressful for both sides.


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