Hurricane Matthew and its effect on real estate

Real Estate
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As Realtors returned to the area following Hurricane Matthew, they did what they do best: help the community and their homeowners.

Area Realtors sprang into action, assessing their listings to guide their sellers and buyers in what for many was their first experience dealing with a natural disaster. State and local real estate associations offered guidance and tips on handling various hurricane-related issues, but no one could predict for sure how the storm would impact the local real estate market.

One possible effect was a delay in closings. In areas declared federal disaster zones, lenders often require that properties be re-inspected. If properties sustained substantial damages, buyers might rethink their purchase and, with the help of legal counsel, could rescind their offers. But within a week after the storm, Lowcountry Realtors were reporting that very few properties were temporarily being taken off the market. Properties were still going to closing. By Saturday of the following week, Realtors were posting on social media that they were showing property over the weekend and writing and negotiating contracts — all signs that the local market was recovering.

In the long term, other areas that have experienced a weather-related disaster have rebounded with an increase of properties hitting the market featuring renovations and updates like new roofs, resulting in increased property values. Though that may be little comfort to sellers coping with the cost of repairs due to Hurricane Matthew.

What might Realtors tell would-be buyers about Hurricane Matthew? I believe the message will be: “We are humbled and proud by the resilience and spirit of our community and the leadership of our towns, county, law enforcement and fire and rescue. This is the best place to live, work and play.”

Jean Beck is the executive vice president of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors.