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Florida leads the nation in damaged properties up for sale but new legislation aims to inform potential buyers


Florida – Florida’s vulnerability to extreme weather and an insurance crisis make managing property sales in the state even more difficult. With a significant number of properties listed as damaged, the state also moves toward greater transparency with a flood disclosure bill.

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A State at the Mercy of Nature and Economics

According to Zillow, Florida leads the nation in the number of damaged properties for sale, with 963 out of 202,545 listings marked as having some form of damage as of a recent Thursday morning. This phenomenon is not just a reflection of the state’s ample vacation home market but also highlights the larger issues at play: Florida’s vulnerability to hurricanes and flooding, coupled with skyrocketing insurance premiums, places homeowners in a precarious position, eager to sell off properties that might require costly repairs.

This situation is further exacerbated by Florida’s position as the state with the most homes at risk of flooding. Despite this, it remained one of the few states that did not mandate flood risk disclosure from sellers to buyers until a landmark legislative change.

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New Flood Disclosure Law in Florida

The Florida legislature recently passed the state’s first flood disclosure bill, ready for Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature, in an effort to prevent prospective buyers from unknowingly purchasing a damaged property as the number of damaged properties put up for sale continues to rise. This legislation marks a significant step in equipping potential buyers with crucial information about flood risks, including any previous flood insurance claims or federal aid received for flood damage. Representative Christine Hunschofsky lauded the bill as a vital educational tool, emphasizing its unanimous bipartisan support as a testament to the increasing concern over resilience, flooding, and climate change in Florida.

However, despite this progress, the bill has faced criticism for not going as far as similar laws in states like Texas. Significant provisions, such as inquiries about past flood damages and insurance policies, were removed, potentially allowing sellers to withhold critical information that could influence a property’s value.

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Critiques and Future Directions

Advocates for stronger flood risk disclosure see the bill’s passage as a positive development, albeit one that falls short of the comprehensive transparency needed. They hope to bolster the legislation in future sessions to ensure that Florida homeowners and buyers are better informed and protected.

As Florida continues to grapple with the dual challenges of climate-induced property damage and the need for greater transparency in the real estate market, this new legislation represents a crucial, albeit initial, step towards addressing these issues. The flood disclosure bill, set to take effect on October 1, signifies a move towards more informed real estate transactions in the Sunshine State, promising a future where both sellers and buyers can navigate the market with greater confidence and knowledge.

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