ORANGE COUNTY It’s been nearly two months since Hurricane Irma unleashed its winds and rains on Central Florida, but its impacts were felt beyond physical damage.
According to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, Realtors expected a September sales decline. And compared with September 2016 — down by 20% — and August of this year — down by nearly 30% — sales did plummet.
ORRA President Bruce Elliott, of Regal R.E. Professionals LLC, said hurricanes delay closings because of the extenuating circumstances brought on by the storms, including power loss and home damage, the latter of which requires repair and further inspection prior to closing.
“Hurricanes also typically cause a decline in inventory as properties are taken off the market for repair, or as owners stall plans to list their homes while they deal with hurricane aftermath,” Elliott said. “It’s no surprise that new listings for the month of September dropped by 31% compared to September of 2016.”
Among members of ORRA, sales of single-family homes this past September decreased by 20.8% compared to September 2016, while condo sales decreased 12%. Additionally, the overall inventory of homes available for purchase this September decreased 16.6% when compared to September 2016, and decreased 2.2% from August.
But despite the hurricane and the drop in sales for September, ORRA representatives said that the overall median price of Orlando-area homes (all types) continued its upward trend, which is 9.8% above the September 2016 median price.
With Irma now far in the rearview, the focus of some Florida homeowners and the Federal Emergency Management Agency remains on recovery and repair.
“Hurricanes also typically cause a decline in inventory as properties are taken off the market for repair, or as owners stall plans to list their homes while they deal with hurricane aftermath. It’s no surprise that new listings for the month of September dropped by 31% compared to September of 2016.” — Orlando Regional Realtor Association President Bruce Elliott
FEMA issued a Major Disaster Declaration for the majority of Florida counties, including all of Central Florida, Sept. 10, and continues to take applications for assistance through Nov. 24.
Thus far, FEMA has approved 720,588 applications for individual assistance across all 48 designated Florida counties. In total, it has also approved nearly $861 million for the individual and households program.
“Federal disaster assistance for individuals and families can include money for rental assistance, essential home repairs, personal property losses and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance,” according to its website.
FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program also has enhanced the flood insurance claims process in regards to how claims are filed.
Some policyholders may be eligible for advance payments, which will be deducted from the final claim settlement, in which they can receive a check for up to $5,000 without an adjuster visit or additional documentation. They may also be eligible for up to $20,000 in advance payments if photographs and receipts validating the out-of-pocket expenses related to flood loss or a contractor’s itemized estimate are provided, according to FEMA.
Homeowners dealing with flood damage are encouraged to take photos and videos of their flood-damaged properties and immediately removed damaged items to help reduce health risks related to mold growth.
NFIP also has waived the initial Proof of Loss requirement. Adjusters will visit and assess damage, help document claims and submit a report to the insurance agency. Homeowners will only need to submit a Proof of Loss if they find additional flood damage, disagree with the insurance company’s payout or if the contractor’s estimate is more than the estimate on the initial report sent to the insurance company.
The deadline to submit the Proof of Loss is one year from the date of the flood loss. Additionally, insurers must provide policyholders with the following: a copy of the adjuster’s report supporting the recommended payment; a written explanation of the difference in payment if less than the adjuster’s report; and an Adjuster Report Claim Payment Letter.
For more information on recovery efforts, visit FEMA.gov/IrmaFL or visit FEMA’s Facebook page.