The trauma of a fire in your Connecticut home will shake you to your core. It will turn your life upside down and drain you both physically and emotionally. After the initial shock of a fire incident comes the realization, you have a lot of work cut out for you.
Depending on the severity of the fire damage to your house, you may have to negotiate with your insurance company, find temporary housing, replace damaged personal items and decide how to sell your house. The entire ordeal can be overwhelming.
Below, we’ll share practical steps that can serve as a plan of action from what to do when your home is damaged by a fire, to practical tips for selling your fire-damaged house when the time is right. This will make the sale of your fire-damaged house more manageable and less stressful.
What to do when your house has been damaged by a fire
While you may want to sell your fire-damaged house quickly, there are a few important steps that you need to take first.
Contact your insurance company
Call your insurance company immediately. The sooner you file a claim, the faster you will get things rolling. Your insurance agent will tell you what your insurance policy covers. If your home is uninhabitable, most policies will offer loss-of-use coverage. Your insurance will pay for living expenses such as food, lodging, clothing, and other essential items.
Helpful Tip: Don’t forget to save receipts. You will need them to get your money reimbursed from your insurance company.
Document all communication with your insurance company
Keep an accurate record of all communication you have with your insurance company. Make sure you write down the name of the person to whom you speak and the date of each conversation. This information will help to speed up your insurance claim process and may provide valuable documentation if you appeal to your insurance company’s payout. This documentation may also come in handy when it comes to selling your fire-damaged house.
Secure your home
Do not enter your fire-damaged house until the fire department says it is safe. Once you are permitted to enter, remove valuable items and save undamaged possessions from further destruction.
Then secure your property. Remember, it is your responsibility to prevent further damage from trespassers or damage from the weather. Delays in securing and protecting your property can lead to increased losses.
Ask your insurance agent what steps you need to take to protect your property. Your insurance representative or adjuster may recommend several fire restoration companies who will help you by pumping out water and boarding up your property. The security of the property will be a key component of selling your fire-damaged property.
Notify the police
A fire-damaged property may attract looters and squatters before it is sold and fixed. So make sure you contact your local police. Many local law enforcement agencies will try to keep an eye on your property by scheduling additional drive-bys in your neighborhood.
Assess the damage
A fire restoration company can do a thorough inspection of your fire-damaged home to find out the extent of the damage and the cost to repair your property. You could use this information to compare it with the insurance company’s estimate of damage. This assessment will also help you decide whether to repair your property, put it on the market to sell as is, or sell it quickly for cash.
Helpful Tip: If you disagree with your insurance company’s estimate, you could hire a public adjuster. Public adjusters work for policyholders; they will fight for your interests by making sure that you are receiving your full claim benefits.
Make a list of all the damaged personal property along with the description, model and date of purchase, brand name, and the price you paid. If you don’t have all the information and your receipts have been destroyed in the fire, get copies of bank or credit card statements. That can help you in your claim process.
Make sure you also make a list of important documents you may have lost in the fire and replace them as soon as possible. Important documents can include:
- Investment documents – certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, IRA
- Bank documents, credit cards, and debit card
- Copies of insurance policies – automobile, life, medical
- Recent Account Statements
- Mortgage Papers
- Automobile Title
- Social Security Card
- Income Tax Records
- Medicare Card
- Armed forces discharge papers
- Birth, death, and marriage certificates
- Divorce Papers
- Citizenship Documents
- Animal Registration
- Prepaid burial contract
Helpful tip: Take pictures of damaged possessions and remember to never throw out damaged items until after the insurance adjuster has inspected your house.
Notify the right people
Contact the following institutions with your new address and phone number:
- Mortgage Company
- Newspaper delivery carrier
- Children’s School
- Post Office
- Credit Card Companies
How to sell a fire-damaged house
Once you have all of your affairs in order and have made the decision to sell your fire-damaged property, you must take the right steps to move the process along.
#1 Decide whether you are going to sell your house as is
Once the insurance company has determined the extent of the fire damage and has offered an insurance payout that you find acceptable you need to make the important decision. You either need to fix your home or sell the home as is. Be honest with yourself, and assess whether you have the time and disposition to oversee your home’s fire restoration.
If you decide to fix up your home, make sure you work with a professional. When a property is damaged by fire, it can impact the structure of the property and damage areas that you cannot always see. Fixing up a fire-damaged home ready to sell can be extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. It is also very unsafe.
Keep in mind that if you do not have experience in the construction field you may run into long delays, get stuck with unscrupulous contractors, and lose even more money. If you decide that you want to avoid the headaches of repairing your fire-damaged house you could sell it as is. It is unlikely you will be able to sell it to a traditional move-in buyer but you could sell it to a professional property buyer for cash.
#2 Be honest
Whoever you choose to sell it to, you will need to be honest about the fire damage that has occurred. You will likely need to present the buyer or the company with a report that came from the initial assessment.
Being honest will ensure that the process of selling your fire-damaged house goes smoothly and that you get the best price for it. If not, you may risk the buyer pulling out of the contract, or a penalty for breaching the contract for misrepresentation.
#3 Offer a reasonable price
The report on the fire damage and the remaining condition of your property will help you price it at a reasonable price for both you and the buyer. It can be difficult to know how to price a fire-damaged house, as there are not going to be many examples to help you.
Your real estate agent will be able to help you with the right price by valuation or you can seek a quick cash offer from a property buying company. The latter will take the hard guesswork out of the equation for you, and is the most common way to sell a fire-damaged property. If you try to go down the route of a traditional real estate agent, you may find that the offer and the appraisal comes back lower than you expected.
#4 Make it safe
You should make your home safe enough for inspection. Whether you are selling your house quickly for cash or going down a traditional route, it will need to be secure so that the chosen buyer can view the home. This is so that they know what they are purchasing before they sign a contract.
#5 Empty the property
If it is safe to do so, you should enter the property and remove all the belongings that you wish to keep and move them to your new location, or to a storage facility. Just as you would with any property that you sell, you should remove all unnecessary items. In the case of a fire-damaged house, you may not be able to easily, and safely, remove everything. You may need to enlist the help of a professional, or disclose to the buyer that the home will not be cleared. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to someone buying a fire-damaged property, as they will likely need to embark on a large renovation project to get the property back to living standards and dispose of what is left from the fire.
#6 Set realistic expectations
If you have a fire-damaged property, it can be difficult to know what to do, or what to expect. Setting realistic expectations can be difficult, as you will have to face the fact that you have lost your home, and as a result of the damage, the property has also lost its value. Make sure you prepare yourself for what’s to come. Selling your home to a cash buyer can help make the process easier for you, as they will take the property off your shoulders in a matter of weeks, so that you can move on from your past, and build a new future. They will be able to provide you with an offer very quickly, which will reduce the stress of pricing your home and putting it on the market, a process that will take a very long time. It will also help you to avoid going to an auction, which can be a stressful and uncertain process to endure.
Selling a fire-damaged home can be a difficult task for anyone. Not only is it emotional, but it can also be stressful and time-consuming. If you have a house that was damaged by a fire, and you are feeling lost and confused, contact us at CT Cash Homes. We have a friendly team who will be able to talk to you about your property and provide you with an offer to sell your house quickly.