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Real Estate News

What to Know Before You Buy in a Hurricane Zone

Written by Ashley Sutphin
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

We’ve already had a pretty tumultuous hurricane season in 2020, and it’s certainly not over yet. Hurricanes can be scary for vacationers who have to flee when they approach, but even more so for property owners in these areas.

While living in a hurricane zone can, at times, be stressful, these areas are also often some of the most beautiful in the country. Hurricane zones are where many people purchase second homes, investment properties and retirement residences.

If you’re thinking about buying in a hurricane zone, what should you know?

Hurricane Zones Are Expensive

When you’re in an area that’s likely to be affected by hurricanes, it’s expensive year-round and not just when you’re dealing with damage. You have to pay for storm protection, flood insurance, and other types of insurance coverage.

When you’re getting insurance in a hurricane-prone area, you can shop around and compare prices. Before you ever buy a property, you should probably start doing that. If your home is within a certain number of miles from the beach, you may pay more or less in insurance than a home very nearby. The closer to the beach a home is, the more expensive insurance will be.

While the oceanfront property might be ideal for you, if you go a bit more inland you can save a lot of money.

Your insurance prices are primarily based on the flood hazard locations outlined by the National Flood Insurance Program’s Flood Insurance Rate Map.

A big mistake people make is thinking their homeowner’s insurance covers flooding. You will need separate flood insurance. You might also need a separate wind damage policy, depending on what your homeowner’s policy excludes.

The most important thing to do if you live in a home by the coast is to ensure that you’re fully and appropriately covered in terms of insurance. You should talk to your insurance company before you buy a property and make sure you have everything in order.

How Much Will Insurance Cost?

The average cost of a homeowner’s insurance policy is around $2,000, and flood insurance can cost another $640. Rates can be well above this in hurricane-prone areas.

How Old Is the House?

If you have a house you’re looking at buying, ask when it was built. There’s a reason for this. Building codes were significantly updated in the early 2000s in Florida, for example. Newer homes are built to higher standards as a result.

The Florida Building Code is also routinely updated every three years, as is often the case in other states.

When you’re looking at property, you can have a licensed inspector work with you because they’ll know what the home needs to reduce the damage that might occur if there is a hurricane.

Along with the general age of the home, ask about the age of the roof.

Look for specific safety upgrades that might be present in a property. Metal straps or clips in the attic can help a home stay stronger against storms because they connect the roof to the walls. Look for storm shutters and panels, and if they aren’t present, ask your insurance company if they’ll provide you a discount for adding them.

Annual Maintenance Costs

Hurricane season in Florida and other states that get storms means that you’re going to be spending more not just on insurance but also potentially maintenance. For example, you’ll want to make sure that your trees and trimmed, and your gutters are regularly cleaned.

You might also want to tack the price of a generator onto your home buying and maintenance costs, and you’ll need gasoline or propane to fuel a generator.

Living somewhere like Florida or anywhere on the coast can be an amazing lifestyle, but you have to be realistic about the potential impact of hurricanes on your budget.

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