Florida, hurricanes, Real Estate

How Hurricanes Affect Florida Real Estate Value

tree in a Florida Hurricane
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Image by Quangpraha via Pixabay

The last hurricane Florida experienced landed so recently that Floridians don’t have to go far to find someone affected. Even if you didn’t experience significant hurricane damage yourself, the effects of this sort of storm on business and family can be stressful.

If you’re trying to sell a home, that stress may be compounded. How is a hurricane or dangerous tropical storm likely to impact the real estate market?

The Danger and the Damage

Hurricane Ian made landfall around Fort Myers Beach, Florida as a category four hurricane on September 28th. Governor Ron DeSantis had declared a state of emergency four days prior, supporting the Florida Division of Emergency Management in planning and implementing emergency services.

Hurricanes like Ian can be dangerous for residents from the Gulf of Mexico to the barrier island Key Biscayne and everywhere in between. Hurricanes and tropical storms have several qualities that can make them destructive and even deadly.

Hurricane Force Winds

When hurricane Ian made landfall, it had hurricane force winds of 150 miles per hour or more. High winds and abrupt pressure changes from a storm can cause tornadoes, storm surge, and flooding to occur.

Sometimes, groups like the Florida Department of Transportation may determine that the expected dangers of high winds necessitate an evacuation until further notice. However, even if you leave your home on Tuesday and return on Friday, you may continue to experience dangerous effects of the disaster.

Storm Surge – National Hurricane Center

One of the effects of storms that even emergency management has difficulty predicting is storm surge. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.”

As in tropical cyclones, when hurricane force winds move around the water and force it toward the shore, flooding, including inland flooding can occur. Coupled with torrential rains like those in hurricane Ian, coastal flooding and inland flooding are major concerns, so storm surge is monitored closely.

Storm surge can be a major contributor to drowning deaths and can make search efforts more difficult. Sometimes, a family or a search team may have to take a boat much further inland than is typically safe as a boat may be able to navigate the water but may encounter dangerous debris.

The “Dirty Side” of the Storm

Many people aren’t aware that a hurricane has different parts that behave differently. On a satellite image, it looks roughly the same around the perimeter, but hurricanes have what is sometime called the “dirty side” of the storm.

The right front quadrant is the part of a hurricane most likely to create tornadoes, which can be among the more destructive aspects of it. These concentrated cyclones have high winds in a small area, a dangerous combination.

The acute wind force associated with tornadoes causes downed power lines and flings about debris. The debris itself, as well as continuing wind and rain, can make it tough to restore power afterwards.

Tornadoes can also be particularly dangerous for mobile homes. FEMA explicitly states that mobile homes are not safe to shelter in during a tornado.

Tropical Depression vs. Tropical Storm

It may be difficult to know the differences between a hurricane, a tropical storm, a tropical depression, and all the other terms the news bandies about when reporting on storms, especially if you hear the same storm system referred to in different ways throughout the week. Something that starts as a tropical storm may be a full-blown hurricane by the time the week is over.

One of the primary factors in storm classification is wind speed. For example, a tropical storm becomes a tropical depression when winds increase in speed to 39 mph or more. When those same tropical cyclones develop winds over 73 mph, they are classified as hurricanes.

Community Safety

For residents of Florida, staying abreast of hurricane news can be a daily business. For those in the most-frequently-affected counties, like Lee County and Charlotte County, knowing about the aid facilities and up-to-date evacuation orders could prevent serious injuries or deaths.

If you live in Fort Myers Beach, or are even there for a visit, staying apprised of the local weather events may keep you safer.

Hurricane Season

From June through October, or even the end of November, hurricanes are a major concern. Usually, by October, the likelihood of a storm begins to dwindle, but climate change is having an impact on hurricanes everywhere.

With Caribbean sea levels rising, a storm or hurricane that once might’ve petered out before October could become a major event like Ian. The gulf is likewise affected, with a storm like Ian becoming more and more likely.

The Toll of One Storm

Lee County officials closely monitored news about Ian and worked to keep Fort Myers Beach residents safe. On the Tuesday before Ian hit land in Florida, having already pushed its way through Cuba, first responders and search and rescue crews were already mobilizing.

Still, despite the hurricane preparations so familiar to Florida, this kind of storm is unpredictable. As of October 14th, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission reports 109 confirmed deaths in Florida, primarily from drowning, with 54 deaths from Lee County, the county Fort Myers is in.

It’s impossible to know how many people were saved by the mitigation measures put in place, but it’s clear that hurricanes are not to be taken lightly. Officials are even saying that another hurricane may beheaded Florida’s way in late October.

Hurricane Irma aftermath
Hurricane Irma aftermath

Image by Paulbr75 via Pixabay

The aftermath of a hurricane

These numbers may appear bleak, but recovery from catastrophic events can show communities at their best. So, what is the effect on real estate?

It may seem obvious that the value of homes often decreases immediately after an emergency. A hurricane reminds potential buyers about the dangers of an area.

However, there are some surprising statistics about the housing market, both in the short term and the long. You may find some of the effects counterintuitive, but a recent study implies some good news for homeowners.

Supply and Demand

When a storm like Ian rips through an area, the property damage can be profound. Some homes will have been destroyed completely and will need to essentially be rebuilt. Others will need extensive repairs.

Those homeowners will need new temporary or permanent housing. At the same time, there are fewer homes available for potential renters or buyers.

When the supply is unable to keep up with demand, sellers may be able to get more for their homes. Even if a home is in an area affected by the hurricane, if it weathered the storm relatively well, it may give buyers confidence that it could do it again.

A Short Memory

Another factor in escalating home prices is the fact that the benefits of living in Florida often outweigh the fear of a weather emergency. In the immediate aftermath of a storm, some buyers may put their plans on hold, but ultimately, the allure of beach living brings them back.

Home is Where the Heart Is

For some residents, remaining in Florida is the most important thing. Even if they have to buy a new home in order to stay, they’d rather spend the money on real estate than try to make a new home elsewhere.

This tendency can also reinforce the short supply of homes. The more Floridians sticking around, the fewer houses available to outside buyers or investors.

Making an Investment

The real estate news isn’t all roses. Sometimes after a hurricane, home prices do, indeed, fall. Sometimes they stay down for quite a while.

However, in larger cities in particular, after huge and deadly hurricanes, there may be upward of a 7% increase in home values. It could be worth a seller’s time to pay close attention to trends and sell during the likely upswing.

A Contribution

It’s also possible that some homeowners remain due to a commitment to their communities. By staying and maintaining a home, they contribute to the local and state economy, paying taxes, hiring builders, and supporting the life of their city.

The investor or homeowner could play an integral role in the rebuilding of their area, providing they’re willing to put off their reward for this philanthropy. Of course, if the region thrives due to the care of those who call it home, these owners may get back more on their investment than they anticipated.

ray of clouds

Image by ChristopherPluta via Pixabay

Finding a Silver Lining

For those who experience the terrifying reality of a hurricane, it may seem difficult to see the path forward. Resilience may prove rewarding, however, if they can put their energy into rebuilding.

If you’re a homeowner who has been striving to sell your house, it may be daunting to go through the complicated process of selling just after a storm. Seeking out the experts may not only be helpful, but could also bring comfort and reassurance that you’re on the right path.

As multiple studies have shown, a hurricane, even a very destructive one, doesn’t necessarily indicate a drop in home prices. In fact, the opposite may be true.

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