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What to know if you're selling a storm-damaged home

As another hurricane season gets underway here in Florida, the thing that many homeowners worry about perhaps second only to the safety of their family is whether their home will survive and, if so, how badly damaged it will be.

If your home has been damaged by a hurricane or other storm, you may be dreading the day when you need to sell it. Maybe you've been putting off repairs to damage that you've been able to live with. However, you know you'll need to make them before you place your house on the market or settle for a far lower sale price than you'd like. Perhaps deep down, you're afraid that you won't be able to sell your home at all.

Before you decide what repairs to invest in, real estate experts recommend that you have the home inspected. A home inspection professional's report will detail all of the problems. You can determine from there which take priority and how many of them you can afford to make.

You want to repair things that could present a danger or health hazard or that could cost the buyer significantly in the future. Experts also suggest repairing the areas that potential buyers will see first -- like the roof and deck. Even a new coat of paint inside and outside can improve the look of a home significantly.

Determining a reasonable sale price can be tricky. Your real estate agent can help with this. They'll look at what other properties in your area have sold for in recent months. Chances are that they've suffered damage as well.

If your home has suffered serious damage, and you simply can't afford the repairs needed to sell it to another homeowner, there are other options. There are companies that buy damaged homes (for a low price), fix them and resell them. If you need to move, or you can no longer afford your home, this may be the best option.

When you're selling a home that's suffered storm damage, you want to be sure that you're making all necessary disclosures to the buyers. Failure to do so could result in costly, time-consuming legal issues. It may be wise to consult with an experienced real estate attorney to help avoid problems down the road.

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