Dozens of Floridians are taking a crash course in the
And for many, the
The 50% rule dictates the future of hurricane-damaged homes in designated flood zones.
The federal rule prohibits repairs and improvements on damaged homes exceeding 50% of their market value unless the entire residential structure is brought up to the latest building codes and flood regulations.
Basically, if a home damaged by Ian’s repairs exceed 50% of its value, homeowners are obligated to rebuild to current codes and elevation requirements in coastal and other flood prone areas.
The goal is to mitigate damages and insurance costs from future storms. But the reality for landlords can be very difficult and very expensive medicine and could exclude long-time landlords and others from coastal property markets, leaving more of the region’s beachfronts to the wealthy.
The 50% rule is part of the
Lawyers, appraisers, realtors and insurance agents across the region are fielding calls from homeowners affected by Ian about their options for repair and rebuilding after the storm.
Some local owners have little or no knowledge of the
“A lot of people are calling because they’ve had a flood and they don’t know what to do,” said
Woodward said that
“They are going to have problems,” the lawyer said. “There’s no nice way to put it. They’re going to be in trouble. You’re going to have a lot of rebuilding going on.”
This rebuilding could result in more extensive teardowns and new construction of elevated, more expensive homes built to current codes and flood rules rather than repairs to existing older homes.
“You’re going to see the nature of the community change structure by structure,” Woodward said. “You are going to go to
“The Super Rich”
“The super rich,” Staebler said of who can afford to rebuild and live in hard-hit coastal areas and barrier islands that have suffered the brunt of the hurricane but offer expensive and attractive waterfront properties. “We normal people will all be shut out of the market.”
Staebler said many transplant recipients and out-of-state homebuyers have limited knowledge of the 50% rule at best.
“There is a lack of information and a lack of knowledge,” Staebler said. “Too many people are buying homes without knowing what they’re buying into,” she said.
Staebler wants more detailed information on floodplains and
“There is no disclosure, no information,” she said. “They’d rather stay ignorant and not disclose just to make a sale. It comes down to the five-letter word – greed. Greed in every aspect,” Staebler said.
She said these disclosures can be made verbally or in writing.
“Florida Realtors provides its members with a Real Estate Condition Disclosure Form that is used in many transactions involving a real estate agent. This form provides potential buyers with a wide variety of information regarding the property they are considering buying. purchase, including water intrusion, drainage and flooding,” she said.
No easy solutions
Whittington said the determination of real estate values under the 50% rule applies to homes and residential structures, not the value of land. But it’s difficult to stay below the threshold with extensive roof and water damage from the storm, he said.
“There’s no easy solution. A neighbor’s situation will be different than the person immediately next door,” Whittington said.
Woodward said owners have some ability to appeal damage estimates in the
Hurricane Ian caused up to
Staebler is concerned about Ian’s already stressed property insurance situation worsening (including via lawsuits) and said the rebuilding process will take several years.
“It will take more than a year,” she said of all the expected new elevated buildings and more expensive new structures. “It will take five, six, seven years to rebuild.”