Some owners of flood damaged houses opt to sell ‘as is where is’
Owners of some flood-damaged properties are reaching breaking point, opting to sell up ‘as is where is’ as they wait for repairs and a category for their property.
Others are renting out properties that have now been repaired to cover mounting costs.
But experts are urging ‘buyer beware’ when considering renting or purchasing a home that has been flood damaged.
The Auckland anniversary floods left the Cotesmore Way complex of leasehold townhouses in Parnell with significant damage to the bottom storeys. Seven months later the complex is still out of action and repairs are uncompleted on all 41 homes.
Additionally, owners still have to pay body corporate fees and ground rent, despite not being able to live in their homes. For some that was enough to throw in the towel and sell up ‘as is where is’.
City Sales Real Estate sales manager Scott Dunn had taken on one of the townhouses to sell – owner having reached breaking point and sell before the repairs were completed. The ground floor of each property had to be completely gutted after the floods, but they were hoping the entire complex would be fixed by September.
Dunn said the owner was given seven days’ notice to vacate his house, “since then, they put him in temporary accommodation, which he said has been substandard … there’s too much financial pressure he just wants to sell it at auction and go up north”.
That meant the property would be sold without a code of compliance certificate.
“Anybody buying needs to buy at the risk, knowing that it might not be inhabitable for some time after,” he said.
The flood-damaged Cotesmore Way townhouse was expected to go to auction in the new few weeks, with plenty of interest already.
Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said insuring properties without a code of compliance certificate could pose problems.
“That presents a real challenge for an insurer to be satisfied about the risks that are there, it is a ‘buyer beware’ situation.”
Plenty of rentals were also popping up, particularly in flood-affected areas like West Auckland’s Urlich Drive.
Grafton said if the property was being rented, as long as the repairs had been completed, there should be no issues getting contents insurance. Though if the property was later categorised as higher risk, then insurers would need to take that into account and it could cost more.
Renters United president Geordie Rogers said that was something renters were already having to consider.
“You do very much need to weigh up how much it might cost to insure the things that you’re living with, primarily that’s going to be the largest increase in cost if you’re looking at renting a place.”
Rogers said if a rental was flooded, renters could give their landlord two days’ notice if their flat was uninhabitable. He said in a dire rental market, some Auckland renters had no choice but to consider looking in flood-affected areas.
“We are not building enough houses to the extent that we’re forcing some people to live in floodplains, that’s not something we should be proud of as a country.”
When buying a house Grafton said if the homeowner had an existing claim with their insurer for flood damage, it was crucial the claim was passed onto the buyer.
“Don’t assume that as a right, you are now the owner of that insurance policy it is only with the permission of the insurer that claim can be assigned and then not all the rights will transfer through.”
Real Estate Authority head of education Nadine Thomas said buyers should also get their own property inspection report if the property had been affected by flooding and access to all the paperwork. Owners must disclose any physical damage to prospective buyers, and real estate agents must do the same, she said.