DEARBORN/HEIGHTS — With many first time homebuyers in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights experiencing a flood for the first time, one local realtor is offering some tips of the trade.
Dave Abdallah, a realtor in the community for more than 35 years, said that homeowners need to do their research before they buy.
“When properties are labeled as being in a ‘flood zone’, that’s an area designated by FEMA that requires residents living in that area to have flood insurance,” he said. “That flood insurance is in addition to your homeowners insurance. People need to make sure that they have a reputable, knowledgeable insurance agent that knows about flood insurance.”
Abdallah also said that there’s an additional type of insurance in these types of situations that many homeowners may not be aware of.
The assessment forms are just for the city officials to submit to FEMA for potential relief funding from the government, but they are not actual claims. — Realtor Dave Abdallah
“Homeowners should be aware that in addition to flood insurance there is also sewage back-up insurance,” he said. “These are completely different and that’s why it’s important to ask these questions to your insurance agency.”
While many homeowners throughout the community have had issues in the past with filing flood claims with their insurance companies, Abdallah said that’s nothing new.
“Insurance agencies will always try to fight claims regardless of what the situation is,” he said. “But it’s important to identify whether the water comes through the walls, from the sewer or, in some cases, even coming through the main floor, because each of those are separate issues that may be handled differently by insurance agencies.”
Renters, however, also need to have separate insurance for these types of situations.
“Renters need to have renter’s insurance with additional policies,” Abdallah said. “Unfortunately for renters, the landlord’s insurance policy does not cover the renter’s personal belongings or furniture or anything in these situations.”
Abdallah also said that it’s up to sellers to notate flood damage prior to selling their homes.
“Sellers are required to submit a seller’s disclosure statement, which asks questions like if there has been water damage or flooding, etc. and that is done before an offer is made on a home,” he said. “Unfortunately it relies on an honor system, but having a reputable private inspector come in and do an inspection is the best bet before purchasing a home.”
Despite the cities also doing their own inspections prior to the sale of homes, Abdallah said that it’s much different from a private inspection.
“A private inspection will highlight if there have been water leaks anywhere, if there are drainage issues, things like that,” he said. “A city inspection is not necessarily as in-depth. Once the private inspector is complete with their report, a homebuyer can cancel the sale and if a seller is caught lying on the seller’s disclosure statement, they can be sued if the lie can be proven.”
With both Dearborn and Dearborn Heights currently collecting assessments from residents, Abdallah said it’s important to know that filing the assessment with the city is not filing a claim.
“The assessments are not claims,” he said. “Residents still need to file claims with their insurance companies, which is where the photos and videos and evidence will be beneficial. The assessment forms are just for the city officials to submit to FEMA for potential relief funding from the government, but they are not actual claims.”