My husband and I are working with a Realtor to find a home in Pinellas County. My understanding is there are areas in Pinellas known for sinkhole activity. Is there a public database where I can look to see if a particular home is near a confirmed sinkhole?
Unfortunately, there is not.
Most Realtors who work in a particular area of a county may serve as a good resource for this, which is another reason to consider using a Realtor these days to find a home. Under Florida law, every time an insurance company pays a sinkhole claim, the insurance company is required to file a copy of the report with the County. However, this requirement is only a few years old, and there is a real question whether most of the counties are actually recording sink hole properties as they are required to.
I would suggest going to the county of the home where you are interested in purchasing and obtaining a copy of the building department file, and search the building permits. While you are at it, you may want to do the same thing for the homes on the lots adjacent to the home, to see if there has been any damage. Sinkhole problems are very common in Central Florida, and it is worth taking these additional steps before you commit to buying a home.
Lastly, consult with your Realtor, who may be able to network with other Realtors in the area. Oftentimes, they will work with each other on these issues, as it benefits the entire industry. Some Realtors may even keep their own database of homes in different areas, and would know about problem houses. My office keeps a very detailed database on sinkholes, and we share that with people when appropriate.
Have a burning question you’d like to ask about sinkholes? Let us know.