A Letter to the Editor

Keys are on the counter...

The phrase needs no set up. It is for many the last straw, for others a seemingly dark cloud in which there appears to be no way out.
As I continue answering calls in which many want to sell or just walk away, I realize many need something to hold onto – an assurance if you will, in which they can manipulate sanity back in their lives. I have done some good for a few folks, so I wanted to reach out and possibly help others.
My background includes construction and real estate, with an astute background in fire and flood renovation. I am a past certified Water Damage Restoration technician through the IICRC. I am salassi2also a retired licensed home inspector, a past licensed arborist and a current licensed real estate broker.
I have lost property and business revenue in the great flood. Please allow me to make some observations that may aid someone in choosing a more positive path moving forward.
*If you have flood insurance, you will be able to have your house repaired.
*If you don’t have flood insurance, chances are FEMA will aid you in some repairs and other essentials.
*The most important element in moving forward, no matter which route you take, is gutting and properly drying your dwelling. If you “leave the keys on the counter” and just walk out, you are creating a toxic environment for animals and others that will have to come behind you and do it, not to mention your neighbors and what it does to subdivisions. Also, these days it could take more than a year for your mortgage company to repo your home. In this time, your home will have to be mitigated by a biohazard company and torn down. This is very costly and all costs of mitigating your toxic property because of non-mitigation by yourself,will likely be added to a judgement that will likely follow you for the next several years. Gutting your home and properly drying it will at least allow for an investor to possibly bid on it at a later date – and it won’t become toxic to the environment.
* Many churches and nonprofit groups are gutting homes for free if this is an issue. Contact your city, parish or your local church for help in this area.
*With proper cleaning and drying completed, spraying your structure and slab with an anti-fungal and biocide will help create a safe environment to live in.
*If time is a factor in allowing you to make your mortgage payments and renovate your home, call your mortgage company. Many are allowing up to 3 months of notes to be added in arrears without penalty.
For those who did not have insurance but are willing and able to put some work into saving their home, I can tell you that it is possible to keep and renovate your home, one step at a time and save a lot of the cost of rebuilding.
After you have treated the structure with proper biocide spraying, it has dried out, and you have met all permit requirements, it’s time for insulation and sheetrock. This is a huge crossroads. In the first house I flipped years ago, I had gutted the house and then finished just my master bedroom and bath to have a place to live, and I used an ice chest and a microwave for a couple months while finishing the rest of home. It was actually not that bad; we had many small goals and completed one room at a time. I knew with every completed room I was that much closer to the final finish. I know this route is not for everyone, but when anyone chooses to stay and work to save their home, it is great for the community, and we want you to stay!
However if your goal is to sell, even if you don’t do the entire house’s renovations, if you complete the drywall process, you are now entering a phase where more investors will be interested in putting a bid on your property. But if you’ve made it that far and you can possibly hang in there and complete the rebuilding of your property, you will have made it to the real market where you should be able to sell your property, completely rehabbed, and at a much better price.
Now if you can wait a while, watch what the market does over the next several months, and you can respond when the market is in your favor. You just became an experienced professional in disaster area real estate and are much better off than leaving your “keys on the counter”!
But remember, make no decisions until you are satisfied you have all the facts and you are not upset and no longer in shock. Remember, when in doubt, keep asking questions until you are satisfied!
A prediction: I believe that Louisianians will bounce back, maybe faster than after any other historic flood or other disaster. I think that by November and December, many will be back in their homes, and things will be getting back to normal. I feel there will be many that have rehabbed their homes and will be getting paid to do so by their insurance companies. There will be many more people with more money in their bank accounts in the holiday season than before the flood, and if they are gracious and shop locally, it could be a big lift for our community!
So spread the word and shop local!
Good luck!
A concerned resident and business owner, Stuart Salassi