Selling A Fire Damaged House In SF Bay Area

A home fire is among the toughest experiences for a homeowner. It’s a highly distressing event, unfortunately quite common.

Per the National Fire Protection Association, a home fire happens every 89 seconds. In just 2020, fire departments nationwide received reports of 490,500 fires. The resulting fire losses totaled a staggering $12.1 billion that year.

Despite recent wildfire headlines, they contribute only a tiny fraction to home fires. In fact, less than 1% in 2021; typically, fires stem from cooking-related accidents.

Certainly, it’s disheartening after a home fire, but it’s not the time to mentally disengage. There are numerous questions afterward, making it bewildering to know what steps to take. Yet, once the fire is extinguished, swift and decisive action is crucial to prevent further harm.

Selling A Fire Damaged House In SF Bay Area

Firstly, you need approval from the Fire Department before returning to your fire-damaged property. It’s risky to enter without permission, as the fire might have caused hidden structural harm.
Once it’s deemed safe, retrieve important documents and belongings.
Secure the property from weather and vandalism. You may need to ask utility companies to disconnect electricity and water.

What Should You Do with after the fire In SF Bay Area

Then, contact your home insurance provider to begin the claims process. They may arrange temporary housing while your burned home is inspected. Ensure the extent of damage is documented by the insurance adjuster.
Based on their assessment, you may receive the replacement cost or the actual cash value, which could be less.
For wildfires, FEMA assistance may be available in certain areas.
Use the insurance payout for fire damage restoration if desired. Hire qualified contractors to clean firefighting residue, remove soot, and eliminate smoke odor. Some contractors also offer renovation services to restore your home.

You have two choices regarding a fire damaged house: repair the fire damage yourself and restore your home as close to its original condition as possible, or sell the burned house as is.

Factors Affecting your Decision Regarding your Fire Damaged House

These are some questions you can ask yourself to help you decide:

  • What is the extent of the damage caused by the fire?
  • What caused the fire?
  • How long would it take to get my home back to pre fire condition?
  • How much would be the repair costs?
  • Will I be able to afford the restoration and repair costs?
  • What does my insurance company cover?
  • Do I have an emotional attachment to my home?
Factors Affecting your Decision Regarding your Fire Damaged House In SF Bay Area

Generally, if you have both time and money you can go ahead with repairing fire damage to your home. Otherwise, you’re better off selling the house as is.

Repairing fire and smoke damage ranges between $2,8670 and $33,966 with the national average sitting at $17,598 for a full repair.
As it’s a significant investment, make sure to find a skilled and seasoned fire damage restoration specialist with ample experience in repairing fire-damaged properties. Consult your insurance representative as they may recommend a suitable professional to meet your requirements.

7 Steps in Repairing a House with Fire Damage

Step 1. Get a comprehensive evaluation from a certified home inspector. Remember, this is separate from the inspection done by the insurance adjuster previously.
Fires often lead to hidden damage. For example, they can weaken wooden beams by drying them out. Additionally, fires can create cracks in basement walls, revealing the steel supports and compromising the structure.

Step 2. 

If your property has major damage, you may require various inspectors: structural, electrical, mechanical (HVAC), and plumbing.

Therefore, areas of inspection must include:

  • Plumbing systems
  • Electrical wirings
  • Heating and ventilation systems – check for smoke residue inside the ductwork
  • Gas lines – there could be a leak somewhere, which may start another fire
  • Structural framing – this may entail opening up the wallboards and floorboards to check the possible structural damage on the floor joists and wall framing
  • Windows – check the integrity of the window frames and probable warping and discoloration of the glass from the heat
  • Appliances – check for water damage before using them even though they may look undamaged from the fire
  • Paint – check for blisters and smoke damage
  • Roof – rafters may have been weakened from the fire or otherwise retained water from the firefighting efforts
Steps to repair fire damage In SF Bay Area

Step 3. Following the evaluation, the refurbishing specialist will estimate the extent of work, timeline, and total expenses. It’s important to note that rehabilitating a fire-damaged property presents significant challenges, so there may be unexpected repairs in the future.
If inspectors determine that the damage is too severe for major repairs to render your fire-damaged property habitable again, demolition might be the only option. You can then sell the land to real estate investors who may hold onto it for the long haul or eventually develop it.

Step 4. The specialist will then secure the premises by erecting fences and sealing off any openings in the structure. Tarps might be utilized to cover exposed sections of the roof to prevent further water penetration and safeguard the building from the elements.
Any parts of the property that were untouched by the fire, even if it’s just a small area, should be sealed off and isolated to prevent contamination and further harm.

Step 5. The next task is to extract water left from firefighting efforts to inhibit mold and wood decay. Additionally, if chemical extinguishing agents were deployed, they can leave behind hazardous residues that must be eliminated.

Step 6. Once the structure is dried out, thorough cleanup will begin. All fire-damaged drywall, flooring, ceilings, and other materials must be removed. Smoke and soot, which can pose various health risks, will be eradicated from every affected area, especially ventilation systems.
Deodorizers will be used to eliminate smoke odors entirely, and if necessary, antimicrobial substances will be applied to disinfect and prevent mold growth. Furniture, drapes, curtains, and clothing will also undergo cleaning and deodorizing.

Step 7. 

Based on fire damage severity, some parts of the property might require reconstruction. Others may only need essential repairs. Some areas may necessitate retrofitting to return the property to its pre-fire state.

Even if all signs of fire damage are removed and your contractor excellently restores the property, it’s crucial to be transparent with potential buyers about the incident.

Buyers may withdraw from the deal if they discover dishonesty, and they will likely uncover the truth eventually. With proper restoration and renovation, the new owners should not face any future issues.

selling a house that fire damage In SF Bay Area

Advantages of Repairing Your Fire Damaged House

If you’ve got the time and money (and considering how much fire damage there is), it’s smart to fix up your fire damaged property before putting it on the market. Doing this could fetch you a better selling price compared to leaving it for the buyer to fix.

If you’re planning to borrow money to fix your fire damaged property, do the math to see if the higher selling price justifies the investment. Factor in not just the repairs but also the closing costs to make sure you’ll still come out ahead.

If property damage is significant, the time and energy required to restore your house to serviceability may no longer be worth it. So you decide to put your home up for sale.

Selling fire damaged houses as is can be challenging. That’s not to say it is impossible. Here is what you can expect if you decide to go this route:

Challenges in Selling a Fire Damaged Home As Is

First, your buyer pool is significantly smaller. You’ll have to do some legwork in order to find experienced home buyers who are willing to take on a project with fire damage.

Second, you will have to compensate the buyer for the repairs that they need to do to your fire damaged home. This means some experienced home buyers will try to drive the selling price down significantly and you may not be able to get the fair market value of your property.

You decide to sell your fire damaged home as is in SF Bay Area

Lastly, it may be a turnoff for some home buyers since they may not be able to obtain a loan from a mortgage lender. Your best bet is finding buyer who is willing to pay cash.

Reasons to Sell a Fire Damaged House As Is

In spite of the possible challenges you may face in trying to sell your fire damaged home, you may still be left with no choice due to the following 6 reasons:

1. Financial Condition

Hiring a clean-up crew and a general contractor to repair the fire damage can be very expensive. Selling outright is the way to avoid these financial burdens.

Selling a fire damaged house in SF Bay Area

2. Health Concerns

A house with fire damage can be unsafe for people with lung problems and the toxic residue from the conflagration can cause sickness.

3. Time Constraint

Restoration and renovation of a house is a long, drawn-out process which can take months. Selling a house with fire damage provides an easy way out of the hassle.

4. Location Risk

California, Texas and Florida are wildfire-prone areas in the United States. The increasing number of wildfires due to the effects of climate change may drive you to move out of state instead of returning to your old home.

5. Emotional Distress & Trauma

A house fire is a devastating event in a person’s life. Even after a full restoration, some people are continually reminded of the trauma they have gone through. To protect your mental health, you may be better off disposing of the property to a cash buyer.

6. Desire to have a Clean Slate

You may want to just cash out and move on, leaving your highly unpleasant experience behind and starting your life elsewhere.

Advantages of Selling a Fire Damaged House As Is

There are motivated home buyers in the real estate market who buy distressed properties and renovate them for profit. This includes homes damaged by fire, properties with code violations, or those suffering from mold problems. These properties hold value for certain buyers who aim to flip them for a profit or rent them out to tenants after necessary repairs.

Moreover, these property buyers are prepared to offer cash, providing you with a solution to your financial troubles, helping you overcome the challenges, and enabling you to quickly progress with your life.

How Do You Go about Marketing and Selling Fire Damaged Property?

1. Determine the Severity of the House Fire

You must obtain an incident report from the fire department so that you can find out the extent of the damage and what caused it. Fire damaged homes are usually hard to sell unless the damage is minor.

2. Go the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Route

If you choose this path to locate the right buyer, you can bypass real estate agents and their fees.

You’ll oversee the entire selling process, which includes marketing, negotiating, and finalizing the agreement. Anticipate a surge of calls from interested buyers ready to make cash offers.

Ensure you’re prepared with comprehensive information about your property and any fire incidents, as the cash buyer will engage in direct negotiations with you.

Go the For Sale By Owner In SF Bay Area

3. Find Real Estate Investors

Selling a fire damaged house to a real estate investor is the quickest way to sell it. They are used to finding diamonds in the rough in damaged properties and doesn’t mind the work required to get it.
Joining a real estate investor meetup in your area can be a great opportunity to network with them. Since selling a house yourself is an exhausting process, a real estate investor with a fair cash offer is your ticket out of this nightmare.

Tips for Selling a Fire Damaged House in SF Bay Area

Whether you go with scenario 1 (as described above), here are 3 useful tips:

Selling a property, and real estate overall, relies heavily on trust. It’s crucial to transparently communicate to the buyer what occurred with the property and the reasons behind it. Holding back information isn’t advisable as buyers will inevitably discover it eventually.

Keep track of everything that was done during the restoration. It would be useful to take photos and file all receipts and invoices so it can help you in determining your selling price later on if you decide to postpone the sale of your house.

Selling a fire-damaged property requires effort, dedication, and patience. Prospective buyers will likely have numerous inquiries about your property. They may even want to bring in their own inspectors. Be accommodating. Show them around the house, ensuring safety and feasibility.
Do not be fixated on selling your house fast. Just trust the process and it will be alright.

You’re the one who decides how to find someone to buy your fire-damaged home.

If you’ve got the time and money, fixing up your house before putting it on the market will get you the best price.

But if you’re in a hurry or short on cash and time for repairs, selling for cash to real estate investors is a solid choice.

At We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area, we buy houses as is, anywhere in the United States!

Yes, even houses damaged by fire!

We buy houses quickly for cash and streamline the home-selling process (especially for properties needing significant work). No need to pay real estate agent fees!

We buy houses on your terms! You pick the closing date, and we’ll handle the closing costs for you!

Start by filling out the form below. Have questions? Give us a call at (408) 557-7554, and we’ll gladly help. 🙂

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The Easiest Way To Sell Your House Fast In SF Bay Area

You’re in the driver’s seat when you accept our cash offer for your house. We make the process simple, fast, and easy to follow when working with us. You have no obligation to accept our cash offer for your home when contacting us for a fair cash offer for your home. No matter the reason you want to sell your house, we want to buy your home as is. Remember that you get many benefits that include no real estate agent commissions, no cleaning, no improvements, and no stress. Our cash offer for your as-is house assures you of fast cash payment at closing with a reputable Title company. You can count on our company to give you a fair cash offer for your home! If you’re still thinking, “I need to sell my house fast”, calling us could be your best decision all day. 🙂

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Gagan Saini

Author: Saini

My name is Saini, and I founded the We Buy Houses in SF Bay Area team with years of experience in the real estate industry. I have assisted numerous sellers in selling their homes quickly, “AS-IS”, and for a fair price.

He’s been featured in multiple publications including Yahoo Finance, GoBankingRates, LegalZoom, The Mortgage Report, Apartment Therapy, US News and World Report, and SuperMoney among others.

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