Nov
16
2011

What is a sinkhole home worth and what is the insurance companies responsibility for my lost value?

Q: What value loss to the real estate with the advent of a sink hole. The physical aspects ?may be? cured, however there is a stigma placed on the property. So what is the value loss and what is the responsibility of the Insurance company to cure the loss.

It is undeniable that once a home has been confirmed to be affected by sinkhole activity, the home has lost significant value. Generally, we have seen that un-repaired sinkhole properties will lose somewhere around 80% of their value. I have seen homes purchased for $600,000 to $800,000 sell in the $100′s following sinkhole discovery. As a side note, there is one small way for homeowners to use this to their advantage. Take the report confirming sinkhole activity to the local property appraiser and have them re-asses the properties value. This in many cases can cut your yearly yearly tax bill by 50% or more. Little consolation I know

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but every bit helps. When you combine a horrific housing market with an additional huge drop in value due to sinkhole, it is usually too much for a homeowner to overcome. If a home is repaired the value will typically increase but how high is the question. It is so hard to predict how a potential purchaser will react to the news. Are they happy to know the problem was repaired and therefore more confident to buy or are they terrified that a sinkhole claim was filed at all to the point where they won;t even consider buying the home? No one really knows.

Insurance companies in Florida are not required to reimburse homeowners for lost value to their home. The insurance policy is a contract that simply is meant to pay for the repairs. In a vacuum, once a home is repaired it should be worth market value again. We all know this is not the case. When sinkhole cases go to trial a jury is not even able to consider the lost value when determining damages. It is a cruel reality of the laws we work with it and is patently unfair but, until the law changes in favor of the homeowners (I’ll pause now for everyone to laugh at that thought) there is not much we can do other than make sure the homeowners receive the best repairs they can.