Sitting here at the office watching plumes of smoke from the most recent set of Southern California fires can really be depressing when considering the homes currently being lost. We are not only reminded of how lucky we are to have firefighters willing to put themselves at risk, but also a society that comes together to help local families in danger. While it's great to see people coming together, it is horrible to see the circumstances that unite them. Many people are willing to take the risk of buying homes in high fire danger areas and we can definitely relate as the benefit of living in the hills has a great deal of attraction. Regardless, now is a very good time to remind home buyers how they can asses the potential threat posed by wildfire and make important decisions for themselves while the danger is still fresh in our minds.
Things To Help Assess Fire Danger
Areas Prone To Wildfire Danger - Even around town here in North Orange County, there are certain areas more prone to danger, as witnessed by last falls freeway fires. Homebuyers need to understand that fire danger can never be eliminated but it can be reduced. Homes with potentially more danger are often those situated in the hills, and/or backed up to nature areas. If there is very little concrete or cleared area between the house and wilderness, a fire danger certainly rises. Southern California has such a dry climate that fire season has essentially become year round. We often forget that we are living in a desert, and forces such as the Santa Ana winds cannot be stopped, but the fear of losing your home to a fire can be greatly reduced if you follow the proper precautions.
Natural Hazard Report – This report shows the likelihood of wildfire danger, in addition to other dangers, and is readily accessible to all buyers of Southern California real estate. In fact, it's a report that is often paid for by the seller, make sure you get it ... and read it!
Fire Insurance – Before signing off on the new house, you need to make sure that it is insurable against wildfire. Most lenders will even require this. Believe it or not, there are some homes in areas that insurance carriers won't want to touch. Not only can this pose problems for your home loan, but it should be something you take note of as well. If a home is in an area that has burned in the past it is possible that it may burn again. You must make sure that you can obtain fire insurance.
Is a Home with High Wildfire Danger Right for You?
Some may feel like the reward is worth the risk, we understand as you often get great views, more room to stretch out, and fewer neighbors to bug you. After all, all of these homes have some people living in it so it's certainly not a deal killer for everybody. Before running out and buying that hillside estate, ask yourself how much of a toll losing a home (of course with the proper insurance) would take on you. Could you deal with it? Would you be emotionally devastated or do you view it as merely possessions? Do you value the things in the home as being attached to memories, or are you mostly concerned with memories themselves? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking before signing on the dotted line. If you have questions about the fire danger in a certain area, your local real estate agent might have some old disclosure reports available for you to read so that you can be well informed before you go out looking at property. Happy Hunting!
About the Author: Todd Foust is the chief marketing executive for the FOUST Team at C21 Discovery; one of the top-selling real estate teams in Southern California. He specializes in Orange and Los Angeles Counties and operates one of the area's most informative real estate websites.
About the Auther: Jennifer McNamara works as a creative marketing contributor/manager for the FOUST Teams public relations division. She is a Southern California native and specializes in translating complicated real estate knowledge into user-friendly information for local homebuyers.