Selling A Fire Damaged House

The resentment, anger, and hurt after a fire in your home can feel overwhelming. Now you’re expected to be able to filter through the next steps and figure out a game plan to get back on your feet. Even with fires in homes declining, they still occur more often than they should.

The most recent data states that the number of fires is estimated to be around 343,100 and causing a staggering $7.6 billion in direct property damage. Cooking fires are the most common cause of house fires, with around 49% that cause direct property damage. After the fire is extinguished and you’ve assessed your situation, it’s important to act quickly to start to get back on your feet. Recognition that fire damage can result in extensive damage leaving you with lots to repair, or even structural damage. Your major options are to restore your home to its pre-fire condition or to sell it as is. Continue reading to find out how to get started sorting through your options and find out what the most important next steps are.

You Have A Damaged House, Now What?

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Right after a fire, you will probably feel overwhelmed with emotions. As a former firefighter, I have personally seen people just want to get some of their semblance of their life back and this would include their personal belongings. You may have wanted to retrieve your pictures, important documents, or anything else that seems salvageable. Make sure you work with the fire department to ensure the building is safe but you have access to it. Most fire departments will have the home boarded up to ensure no further damage from weather and vandalism. They will generally help you with this step right after. If they haven’t, contact them to see if they can help you now. 

First, contact family members and loved ones to let them know what occurred and for your safety. After the fire damage occurred, and if you can’t return to living in it, you probably will have been advised to seek help from the Red Cross or local disaster relief services. If you haven’t done so yet, you can find your local chapter here, or other local disaster relief services here. They can help find immediate places to stay, recover documents for financial recovery, and even help with mental health recovery services. This will be a big help with your next steps. They are:

  • Contact utility service providers to inform them of the fire damage and to have utilities turned off.
  • Document the damages with pictures and detailed notes of the incident.
  • Contact the insurance company to start the claims process. They will be able to find you more permanent temporary housing and provide options to keep the process moving.
  • You may want to contact a fire restoration company, like a nationwide company like Servpro, to at least start to clean up standing water, smoke damage, and other building damage to your property. A fire restoration company or other local contractors will also be able to provide you with an estimate of overall repair costs. 

Repair And Restore? Or A Fire Damaged House For Sale?

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Now that you’ve addressed all the immediate issues and you’re starting to receive some help to get back to your happy place, we can start to look at the long-term issues you’ll need to solve. So let’s dive right in.

You have estimates from contractors, and hopefully, at least one fire restoration company is included, to rehab and restore your property to the glory it was before the fire damage occurred. Some things to ask your professional contractor about when addressing the damage from a fire include the roof, walls, electrical systems, and plumbing. Repairs can get expensive though. HomeAdvisor says that a range of repairs for fire and smoke damage can be from $2,853 to $38,577 with a national average of around $20,659. A high-end cost of repairs sits at a staggering $158,000 to repair the fire damage in your home. This seems like a wide range, but it can vary depending on the square footage of damage, the level of damage to the structure, and what the pre-fire condition was. Now after assessing rehab costs, it’s time to make a decision on if you want to finish the rehab or want to sell it as-is. 

Questions To Ask About Your Damaged House

At the end of the day, some people can’t ever imagine living back in a home where they had fire damage. Other homeowners will have to decide based on finances. These are the questions to ask yourself to decide which is the right decision for you:

Confused about selling your Chicago house in poor condition
  • What is the extent of the damage to my house?
  • How long will it take to get my house back to its pre fire damage condition?
  • What are the repair costs?
  • What will my insurance cover?
  • Will I be able to afford the difference between the repair and restoration costs and what insurance covers?
  • Is there an emotional attachment to my home?
  • Can I picture having a happy life in my home after the fire damage occurred?

If you feel safe and have the time and money to repair the home, you can choose to restore your home and start the repairs as soon as your contractor is ready. If for any reason, you can’t answer those questions with certainty, it may be best to seek other counsel to help with this decision. If you think it’s best to sell your fire damaged house as is, fill out this short form below and we can get started on an offer for your fire damaged home that will allow you to close in as little as 10 days.

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Options For Selling Your Fire Damage House

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If you’ve decided that you don’t want to stay in your home and want to sell it, there are a couple of options you have. There is one more big decision you’ll have to make when it comes to deciding how you want to sell your home. Do you sell it as is, or do you rehab the home to maximize the profit from the sale of your house? A good tip for you, even if you decide to move back into your fire damaged house is to use the repair guide as a guide for the repairs. Let’s continue on and break down each option to help you decide which option is best for you.

Option 1 – Repair And Put Your Fire Damage House For Sale

Recognition that it could be a costly undertaking and insurance may not cover the complete cost. It’s also important to think about who is doing the repair. Even though a contractor can do the work, having an experienced fire restoration company do the repair will provide the most complete solution and will often save you time on the repairs. You can always ask your insurance company for recommendations to help you find the right company to restore your house from fire damage. Read on to see the 7 steps we use to repair a house with fire damage.

7  Step For Repairing Your Property With Fire Damage

Step 1 – Get an inspection done by a licensed professional home inspector. This will be different than the one done by the insurance adjuster earlier and will point out any underlying damage not noted before. Find one here from the American Society of Home Inspectors. Intense heat from the fire can cause unseen damage that most people would know to look for. For example, heat can cause wood to dry out excessively making it weak, weaken thin steel, and even cause cracks in concrete and brick. 

Step 2 – After the licensed professional home inspector does a basic assessment, you’ll want to address any specific areas of concern mentioned. Especially if they include structural, electrical, mechanical (HVAC), or plumbing. We would recommend hiring a specialist to assess these areas. Here are a few things to ensure the inspection include:
✱Plumbing systems – You’re looking for normal draining and now burst pipes.
✱Electrical systems – Ensure that the wires weren’t burned through and all outlets work.
✱Heating and Ventilation Systems – Checking for soot and burn residue in the ductwork.
✱Structural defects – You’ll check for bubbled paint and may even have to open up walls to make sure there was no weakening of any structures.
✱Windows and doors – Search the framing of both and ensure the seals are still good. You’ll also want to look for discoloring of glass or a lost seal.
✱Appliances – Due to the water from the firefighters, you may have damage done that can’t be seen and a broken appliance may not be noticed right away. 
✱Roof – You’ll want to check the rafters for the roof and make sure there has been no weakening. It’s important to check that because the most weight on the roof will be during the snow season if you have one.

Step 3 – Start a log and keep detailed records of the restoration process. This should include each room with structural repairs made. 

Step 4 – Starting rehab is your next step. This will include your contractor fencing off the area if needed and adding additional coverings to ensure no other damage or water gets in. After making sure no new damage can occur, they can start the cleanup process which includes water and damaged or ruined items. 

Step 5 – Your contractor will undertake deep cleaning and demolition. This means removing any fire damaged or water damaged drywall, building materials, or even finishes that show signs of smoke damage. This is to make sure all framing and foundation of your damaged house are strong and capable of handling the weight load of a house. 

Because a smoke smell can last well after a fire has occurred, your contractor will work to deodorize and eliminate the odor found in your damaged house. For any water damage, they will likely apply chemical agents to stop mold growth and sanitize.

Step 6 – The most visible home repairs will commence and this is when you will probably start to get excited. Rehabbing your home to its previous glory may be the goal, but can be improved upon up to your finances allow. If improving, it would be best to talk to a specialist about what housing trends they are seeing. This can include a Realtor or home interior designer. This should help any future homeowners feel confident that the home is in its best condition.

Step 7 – The log you have kept, will come in handy. You will disclose all damages and repairs made to the home to any potential future buyers. People will want to know what started the fire as well as the extent of the damage. You’ll definitely want to disclose all of the repairs made to the structure and all remedies made to ensure a fire doesn’t occur again.

putting a fire damaged home for sale Chicago

With a completed rehab, your goal will be to maximize your listing price and you’ll most likely make the most profit from the sale of your fire damaged house. This will be dependent on the loan still outstanding on the home, the extent of the damage done, and the personal finances you’ll need to put into the house. Just make sure you factor in all costs when estimating your return. This will include closing costs, realtor commissions, and all other fees associated with selling. This can equate to up to 10% of the sale of the house.

Option 2 – Selling Fire Damaged Property As Is

Sometimes the extent of the damage will cause a cost that is too extensive to make it worth it to rehab. This would be the time you decide to sell your house as is. Thinking about selling your house as is can cause immense frustration and leave you feeling crushed. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. These are some things you should be aware of when you decide to sell your home as is.

Challenges To Sell Fire Damaged House

The first thing to recognize is that your buyer pool is significantly smaller. It will be difficult to attract the right buyer and may require more legwork to ensure your sale closes. This can include verifying that the buyer can actually close by ensuring finances or a loan product that allows this kind of purchase. 

challenges to selling fire damage house Chicago

This brings us to the next thing to make certain, your buyer will have to have cash to make the purchase or you’ll have to make sure they have a specific loan product (like a construction loan which can be very costly to the buyer and could scare them into backing out of the purchase). 

The next challenge to address to secure a sale is the price of your house. Buyers will expect to be compensated for the repairs that will need to be done to your fire damaged house. This will mean not getting fair market value. Recognition of a lower price will help you ensure the sale of your home after fire damage has occurred.

And finally, knowing that there is a psychological aspect to acknowledging that selling a fire damaged house as is will be the right decision. We mentioned before that some can’t deal with the psychological aspect of living in a house that has had fire damage occur. The constant reminder of the fire and the life you had in the house can be too much to bare. Factoring in the financial resources needed can make the decision to sell as is necessary. 

At SILT Real Estate and Investments, LLC, we buy damaged homes as is. We even buy fire damaged houses as is too. We can even buy houses with code violations, storm damage, or hoarder houses. These houses are valuable to those who rehab properties to sell or rent out. We can make the process easy and can close in as little as 10 days. If this sounds like challenges you don’t want to tackle on your own, fill out this form below and we’ll be glad to start helping you tackle these challenges.

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3 Tips For Selling Fire Damage Properties

Communication is key.

As mentioned above, disclosing the damage found and/or repairs done is terribly important. Understanding what those costs are and communicating those findings may be just as important as it will dictate the price you can sell your property for. As with most things in life, honesty is the best policy, and being upfront may save you time and energy in the long run.

Documentation will help with communication.

When documenting the damage and rehab done, take pictures. Save receipts and invoices to support the rehab process. It will reinforce the repairs done and comfort future buyers. It may even also help hasten the sales process.

Don’t rush the process.

There can be extensive repairs needed and can be a long and arduous process. You’ll have to stay the course.  Buyers will have lots of questions and will likely want to comb over all damage or every repair. It takes time and some special inspections may be requested, like chimney, roof, electrical, or even the HVAC ductwork. Allow the inspections and don’t be fixated on selling at a fixed price.

selling fire damaged property Chicago

After the fire has been extinguished, you have a few options on how to address your fire damaged house. Only you can decide if you have the time and resources to fix up the house to its former glory. You’ll have a long process ahead of you if you are thinking you want to fix up the house to sell. If doing so, just focus on your most important next step throughout and you’ll get there. If you are in a hurry to sell, lack the funds to do so, or this sounds like it’s too much or something you don’t want to take on yourself, selling for cash to a local real estate investor may be the best option for you. 

At SILT Real Estate and Investments, LLC, we buy houses for cash and simplify the selling process for you. Yes, we can even buy your house with fire damage. You’ll even save money on the closing costs and fees needed to sell, allowing you to get the most back in your pocket. Just fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible. And if you have any questions or just want to talk to someone, give us a call at (708) 415-3801 or contact us here.

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