If you buy, sell or own real estate in Florida or have been a resident in Florida for any length of time, you are probably well aware that Florida is more prone to sinkholes than hurricanes or tropical storm damage combined. It’s impossible to determine the amount of monetary damage caused annually by Florida sinkholes. One sinkhole damaged home costs on average between $100,000 to over $150,000 so we could do the math, however, we just don’t know how many homes or businesses are actually affected.
Although there is a database maintained by The Florida Geological Survey of the number of reported sinkholes in Florida-no one really knows the true number of sinkhole homes or occurrences of sinkholes in Florida and the only data that is collected are data based on the number of observed Florida sinkholes. The Florida Geological Survey (FGS) has gathered data on Florida Karsts (sinkholes) since 1907 in an attempt to understand the relationship between karsts and the state’s groundwater resources and aquifer systems.
However fascinating to geologists -sinkhole formation in Florida and its relationship to “karsts” and the “aquifer” is the last thing the owner of sinkhole damaged home cares about. If you suspect your home has been damaged by a sinkhole than what you need is “HELP.” If you have seen or experienced any one of these 9 common signs of sinkhole activity, than you should promptly educate yourself on what to do and maybe most importantly, what not to do next.
1.) You have depressions or an opening in the ground.
2.) Cracks running in the interior floors, walls or ceiling.
3.)The windows and doors do not open and close properly.
4.) There is a slope in the floor of the house.
5.) Stair step cracks on the outside walls of the house.
6.) Cracking or buckling of the concrete slab floors.
7.) The well water has dirt or debris in it.
8.) Feeling the house shift under your feet.
9.) The house next door to your home is a Florida sinkhole home.
There could be other signs of sinkhole damage to your home such as plumbing and other various problems, and it is best to seek the advice of an expert sinkhole engineer in order to determine what steps to take. Are You Prepared for a Sinkhole Damaged Home?
Owning a sinkhole damaged home can be costly and even once repaired; owning a home that has been affected by a Florida sinkhole can be a continuous nightmare. Most homeowners believe that once a sinkhole damaged home is repaired, it is no longer a financial or otherwise dangerous risk. This is not the case. Owners of unrepaired sinkhole damaged homes can spend in excess of $150,000 repairing a home only to have the sinkhole and the damage reappear over and over again. Often, selling your home to an investor who will buy your sinkhole home “unrepaired” is the wisest choice. As difficult as it may be to part with the damaged home, it most often saves a homeowner financially and in some cases, removes them from what could be a very dangerous situation.
Repairing a Sinkhole Damaged Home? “Beware of the Money Pit”
The cost of repairing a sinkhole damaged home is astronomical. Most homeowners think that if a sinkhole damages their home, the insurance company will have to cover the cost of the repairs. The truth is that, the insurance companies do not encourage using combined methods of repair and they will only pay up to the policy limits for the repair of the house. The problem is compounded and somewhat of a double edged sword as most insurance companies try very hard to avoid paying out to the limits of the policy. Additionally, insurance companies often recommend that a homeowner opt for only one particular repair method versus a combined proven method of sinkhole repair. This makes it even more susceptible to recurrent damage and more costly repairs.
What Options Do Sinkhole Damaged Homes Owners Have?
Owning a sinkhole damaged home can affect an owner’s finances in numerous ways. Not only does it suck the value out of your home, it sucks you dry from the high cost of initial and recurrent repairs. But, what options do you have if you own a sinkhole home? The options are pretty straight forward— Stay and repair or sell and move into a home that is safe and free from sinkhole damage. Most importantly, selling releases the owner from the big money pit. (No pun intended.) This means, no initial or recurrent repairs must be covered by the owner if sold to an investor of sinkhole damaged properties.
What Buyers Want to Know about Your Sinkhole Home & What You Must Disclose
If you think you can sell your sinkhole damaged home after you have repaired it -think again. First, you must disclose this information to potential buyers of your home. Secondly, insurance companies will normally advise a buyer seeking property insurance that your home is listed as a sinkhole property– if in fact you have been determined to be in a sinkhole “area.” Of course there is no real ready reference on this with the exception of maps of past sinkhole activity in the area as well as the area geology reports. Insurance availability is a valid concern and buyers who do not specialize in buying sinkhole damaged homes, most always walk away from this type of sale. Many buyers and home owners are denied insurance even if there has been a report of a sinkhole within a half mile or less of the home they wish to purchase. Again, this is just another reality of owning a sinkhole damaged home. Insurance companies have the right to not issue an insurance policy on the basis of sinkholes in the “area.”