Hernando County Real Estate Blog: The Stigma of Sinkholes, Will My House Be Swallowed Up?

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The Stigma of Sinkholes, Will My House Be Swallowed Up?

Sinkholes in Spring HillAs the laws are about to change regarding Sinkholes in Florida once again, to benefit the insurance companies of course, questions arise about why West Central Florida, what is a sinkhole, what if my house gets a sinkhole, can you insure a home after it has had a sinkhole, and on and on and on.  Images of homes being swallowed up by a sinkhole draws the same fear as being eaten by a shark in parts of Florida.

To make matters worse, much of the information being provided is by companies that stand to profit from the panic and fear.  The reality is that very few catastrophic sinkholes have ever occured, and the reason their appears to be so many now is that people are taking advantage of their last chance to make a claim.  People are filing claims in record numbers, hiring Public Adjusters and Law Firms specializing in sinkhole claims to fight the insurance companies, hoping to hit the jackpot, have their homes paid off, and unfortunately in many cases, take the money and let the properties go into foreclosure.

I am not writing this in an attempt to disparage legitimate claims, to propose that I am an expert, although I have met with many Sinkhole Remediators, visited their facilities and videotaped demonstrations of their equipment.  I have listened and learned so that I may better inform my buyers and sellers.  I will blog in the near future about the different methods of remediation.  The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) has a very informational website and brochure explaining all the geological and historical perspectives without any personal agenda.  I want to share my perspectvie as a Real Estate Broker, share the tragedy of the aftereffects of some of the claims. and the regrets of the owners that filed them 

I listed a magnificent home last week.  It was located in a deed restricted subdivision on a half acre lot, over 2100 square feet of living area, a 3/2/2 pool home that appeared to be in perfect condition.  The owner was a widow who needed to move back to her family.  When I did the comparables, the home appeared to be in the range of $200,000.  I did my homework, went into permitting department records, looked at the history of inspections from the property appraiser's website, and found the evidence.  A sinkhole claim.  When I went to the home I asked for and reviewed the geological reports, estimates and engineer's reports.  I got the first two.  The engineer's report? Nope.  Without the engineer's report stating that the home was repaired and now structurally sound there could be no Homeowner's Insurance.  No Lender would touch it. The kiss of death for a fair sale.

So what happened? Unfortunately, as in so many cases, they could not foresee what was coming.  They did not realize their home would now be stigmatized.  They took the money, paid off the house, and did not fix the "damage".  I could not find any damage and re-read the report.  It was there, in black and white.  To a buyer from anywhere other than Central Florida?  No deal.  To a buyer who needs a loan? Without an engineer's report, no loan, no deal.  So who would buy this beautiful home?  A local investor who would hold and rent, or a sinkhole remediation company for a drastically reduced price.  A tragedy indeed.  My widow had paid off the mortgage with the money, and when her husband became terminally ill, remortgaged the home to pay medical bills.  She now owed more than the home is worth, and now I have an unremediated sinkhole short sale home to sell.  I have a large bank of investors who are ready, willing and unafraid to purchase such a home, at a very deep discounted price, and I will sell it.  Because it is a short sale, the seller is under a duty to disclose, so the transaction will be with eyes wide open for a buyer.  

For all of those people surfing the real estate websites and seeing the unbelievable deals today?  Beware.  If it is a foreclosure, the Banks do not disclose if there was a sinkhole claim.  They claim to know nothing.  Strange, since the insurance companies make the checks out to the owner and the mortgage companies together.  Selective memory perhaps on the part of the lender? 

If a buyer does their due diligence and finds evidence?  The lender will sign a form allowing the engineer who performed the report after remediation to send the report to the prospective buyer so that they may acquire homeowner's insurance.  But without a very diligent and knowledgeable professional Realtor,or buying at the foreclosure auctions?  Guess....

Sinkhole Homes in Hernando County Florida Sinkhole Homes in Hernando County Florida

 

 

Jeanne M. Gavish, SRES, CIPS, SFR, GRI
Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners
* 352-650-1029 *
Serving Florida’s Nature Coast * Hernando, Pasco & Citrus Counties
 
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49 commentsJeanne M. Gavish • April 12 2011 08:50PM

Comments

Thanks for sharing and this is very informative.  How much are the estimates for remediation?

Posted by Laura Forman, Your Brevard Premier Property Specialist (National Realty of Brevard www.LauraSellsBrevard.com) over 3 years ago

Hi Laura. The estimates do not cost.  The insurance companies get estimates, and if the owner is smart, they get independent estimates, and then the battle for the amount the insurance company will pay begins.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

What if the owner has been denied sinkhole coverage -- most likely because of sinkhole activity on the same street. The owner's home has no visible damage but the next door neighbor has filed a sinkhole claim despite nothing except settling cracks. The inspectors could not confirm or deny existence of a sinkhole. Another home down the street had a sinkhole that took 3 months to fix.

So this owner filed a claim with the current insurer who dropped coverage to "mitigate exposure." This insurance runs out soon and the new insurer is the one denying the sinkhole coverage.

What are the ramifications of filing the claim if there is really no visible damage to fix, and what could the insurer settle the claim for? Isn't the property stigmatized by a supposed sinkhole next door?

Posted by Arla over 3 years ago

Hi Jeanne.  I didn't mean the cost for the estimate, I was curious about the estimated cost to remediate the problem.

Posted by Laura Forman, Your Brevard Premier Property Specialist (National Realty of Brevard www.LauraSellsBrevard.com) over 3 years ago

Arla,

Unfortunately, most insurance companies routinely deny claims because their legal team recommends this as a course of action. The sinkhole activity on the same street is pretty strong defense in a claim, not a factor for denial at all. Settling cracks, especially around windows, is considered viable evidence, and a REPUTABLE Public Adjuster with considerable longevity in the business, or a reputable Sinkhole attorney woiuld be a better person to address these questions to, as I stated...I am not a legal expert on sinkholes.  You can call me at 352-650-1029 if you have a scenerio to run by.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Laura, The estimates for remediation costs vary, based on the type of remediation. Grouting is the cheapest method, but the most unreliable.  Underpinning is the most reliable way to remediate.  I have heard of grout damaging neighboring homes, as there is no accurate way to assess where the grout is going.  I have heard of multiple claims on the same home with no evidence of grout under the home, even though there is documentation of mulitple grouting repairs.  Scary.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Jeanne~

What an informative article (even to a Florida native)!  We also currently have a stigmatized property listed in Timber Pines...an area targeted by Sinkhole Repair companies. We will be sharing this info with our customers.  Thanks again!

Posted by Melissa Mace over 3 years ago

Great Post! We see that so much all over Florida today..... Sometimes we are the ones to tell a buyer that that home had a sinkhole claim and the deal goes dead. The Public Adjusters and Law Firms are hurting everyone. Even soliciting homeowners and encouraging them that they MAY have claims. Sinkhole coverage was initially to cover for Ground collapse.

The sinkhole claims are one of the major reasons that Insurance premiums are increasing bt double digits this year all over Florida.....

Posted by Frank Laisch, "The Insurance Guy" (Stewart Title Company ) over 3 years ago

Frank, Thank you for your comment and perspective.  I agree that the claims are the reason why premiums are going up.  I agree that there are PAs who are bird dogging for attorneys and go door to door scaring people.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Wow, what a great Post. Definately going so suggest. Sinkhole properties definately carry a stigma to them, but I have also noticed that once they are repaired and have the proper engineering reports and are insurable again they actually do sell for pretty close to what market value would have been if there had been no claim. The big issue is when someone does not repair them, every now and again I get a deal across my desk where the property is an unrepaired sink hole which was not disclosed. Of course we dont lend on those, and needless to say it creates a bigger issue of non-disclsore and potential fraud. I tend to put the parties invloved in those on my watch list where I know any deal from those parties will require extra caution and due dilligence on our part as a lender. Luckily that does not happen very often. Public adjusters definately seem to add to the problem, and I have heard some people promising all kinds of crazy pay outs when there is a claim. Insurance companies do not have to pay out or settle, they have the legal right to elect and force a repair. Now there are some cases where the repair causes more damage and in those cases the insurance company will end up paying out more than the policy limit. I have also seen some cases where a bogus claim was filed, in those cases the insurance company will bill the expense of the ground testing to the insured, this seems to be happening a bit more as of late. If you have legitimate damage, by all means make a claim. However if you are just trying to cash on thinking that you will out smart the insurance company, think again if you claim is bogus you will more than likely be billed for testing anywhere from $1500-$3500 dollars.  

Posted by Steve Fingerman over 3 years ago

As an appraiser living and working in " Sink Hole Central " or Spring Hill, I deal with this issue frequently. The word "Sink Hole" is used too loosely. I have been living in Spring Hill since 1996. I recall one catastrophic collapse of a small commercial building south of Spring Hill Drive on Linden. It so happens that there was two community water storage tanks in the rear of this property that may have had something to do with the unstable soil conditions. The other catastrophic collapse occurred last year while a well know remediation company was in the midst of high pressure grouting. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightening twice walking to your mailbox than having your home fall into the Grand Canyon. The majority of what we see in the Spring Hill market is loose soil conditions. During the boom in 2004, 2005 and 2006 it was almost impossible to get a dumpster on a job site. Builders were containing construction debris and other organic matter (trees, tree limbs, tree stumps, various ground cover, etc.) on site within rubber mesh fences. Often times this material was buried and then covered with fill. Over time as the organic matter decays and collapses you end up with a void. In some instances this void is very close to the surface causing the movement of already loose soils. The loose soil conditions result in cosmetic cracking in the driveways, walkways, exterior walls, etc. In some instances, the settlement is more severe resulting in difficulty opening doors, windows, etc. If the county is going to allow construction in areas that are noted to have loose or less dense soils they need to revise the building codes to increase the size and number of the footers or place spreaders between the footers so that the foundation will not be compromised by the movement of the soil. The downturn in the economy and subsequent drop in housing values has also contributed to the rise in sink hole claims. Everywhere you turn there is a billboard, television / radio advertisement, direct mail from a public adjuster or an attorney promising you cash in your pocket. It has become a fiasco, somewhat of a blue collar lottery ticket. As some homeowners attempt a loan modification or short sale, they will make a claim to their insurance company indicating that they have a sinkhole. They will use this to their advantage as they negotiate with the mortgage holder. Many homeowners that have received a settlement are paying off their mortgage, car loans, credit cards, etc. and not repairing their home. This is severely impacting our county as the advalorem tax assessment of these unrepaired homes has been reduced by 50% if an engineers report was submitted to the property appraiser. Our state legislators are well aware of the fiasco that this has become. They are walking a very fine line trying to revise the law. We need to bring competition back into the market place; however we can not write laws that favor the insurance company and risk hurting consumers with legitimate claims.

Posted by Anthony Kanaris over 3 years ago

Steve,

Thank you for the perspective from the mortgage industry.  Regarding the undisclosed sink hole homes, I do diligent research because a lot of the claims are not disclosed and the sellers don't know that the county has it on record. 

I got a phone call this morning from someone who has a claim in, and after reading my blog (HEY, ACTIVE RAIN ROCKS!) she was panicked because she did not know that her home may be stigmatized.

I have had discussions with appraisers and it appears that after remediation, the value is no longer affected, but the marketability certainly is.  In this market with so many homes from which to choose, many buyers do not want a home that has had a sinkhole, especially one that has been grouted.

I really appreciate you taking the time to post your comment.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Anthony,

I just sent you an invitation to join the Active Rain Community, I appreciated your comments so much.  Thank you for your perspective and for sharing your knowledge.  This situation has hit a critical point and I also fear that homeowners with legitimate claims will be harmed if the legislators listen only to the insurance industry.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and please consider joining Active Rain. As one of the respected Appraisers in the Tampa Bay area, we could learn much from you.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Really great information, I will share it with customers that have had sink hole problems.

Posted by Janet Franke over 3 years ago

Thank you for reading my post Janet. I appreciate you taking the time.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

OMG what a mess.our earthquake faults here in California are nothing compared to what you are going through.

Posted by Ronald DiLalla, No. Orange Cty Real Estate (Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824) over 3 years ago

Amazing what could be lurking right under you at any given moment.  .sinkholes

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 3 years ago

Ronald, it sounds scary, but really, most of the claims are settlement cracks that are overblown for the sake of profit for the remediation companies and owners.  Thanks for your comment.  In Florida, when we see a catastrophic earthquake or tornado elsewhere, we all agree we will take our Hurricanes and Sinkholes.

Fernando, that statement has more truth than you know. Thanks

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Wow, although rare like you said, it certainly is scary.  It's great you did your homework and found all this out upfront.  My in-laws are going down to FL (East Coast) to look at homes around Easter because they want to move there later this year and I'm sure this isn't something they thought about (in regards to buying a foreclosure).  I'll pass this on to them.  

Posted by David Artigliere, ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspector (Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia) over 3 years ago

Thanks David.  They are in a much lower risk area for sinkholes on the East Coast, but always a good idea when dealing with foreclosures to have someone do very diligent research.  People are walking away from their homes in droves due to Black Mold.  The insurance companies have an exclusion rider for mold, limiting the coverage to $10,000, which does not even begin to cover remediation costs.  Mold inspection (including air quality) is a must on an abandoned (foreclosure) home in Florida.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Wow interesting! I have never heard of sinkholes. We either don't have them in SD or I have never had the pleasure to deal with one. Now I have to go figure that out. Thanks for the info!

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) over 3 years ago

Rosalie,

It has to do with our soil being limerock, the elevation, etc.  It is not common in other states. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Geney, congrats on your feature and for tackling a very sensitive and complex topic.  There definitely is a stigma attached to an "unrepaired" as well as repaired sinkhole home. 

I'm hoping that the sinkhole identification and remediation process will undergo some much needed scrutiny to track claims and repairs.  While insurance companies are required to notify the county of sinkhole claims filed, there is currently no sufficient process in place to track these claims to see if repairs have been made.  Hopefully, improving this process would put a stop to the temptation of "making a claim just because you can" and thus the abuse of the system at the expense of other homeowners.  As home values have decreased in the last years, too many homeowners seem to think this is a way to get money out of their house and never have the intention of fixing anything.  Insurance rates for everyone else go up, taxes will be going up, while property values are suffering even if someone does not have a sinkhole problem. 

Posted by Silvia Dukes PA, REALTOR, Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living (Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch!) over 3 years ago

Jeannie, this is a great feature and I'm impressed by your diligence in bring the sinkhole claim to light. It's bad news but better at this point than later when legal property clearance search would have crashed the sale with this 'surprise'.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 3 years ago

That would really be wild foer a house to fall in a sinkhole! I guess every state has one thing or another to beware of when dealing with a house.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty,Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes - (Lizette Realty - Lexington KY - Richmond KY) over 3 years ago

Congrats on the Feature! BTW, what ever happened to the unrepaired sink hole home? Did they decide not to list it, or did you discount it due to the unrepaired status? Call me, I may interested in purchasing it..at a discounted price of course :)

Posted by Steve Fingerman over 3 years ago

Jeanne, a very informative post. I wasn't aware of the potential issues. Good job in doing your homework.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA (Michael's Commercial LLC) over 3 years ago

Thanks Silvia! I was nervous tackling this topic because people envision their homes falling into a pit, which we know RARELY happens, but this week's listing just drove me to put my thoughts down.  I like your points and maybe the legislators will listen.

Thank you Robert.  I always do my homework because of this issue and still ask the seller point blank if they have ever filed a claim.  Sometimes I have gone on listings, seen the telltale cracks around the window sills and tell the sellers to contact their insurance companies before proceeding.  I like to solve problems when they are small and manageable.

Lizette, When a hole opens up it hits National news and people everywhere call and ask us about it, but it really rarely happens.  Mostly just cracking.  

Steve, Thank you for your comments, both earlier and now.  One of my Landlord Investors put in an offer, but being a short sale, the lender will have to approve the sale. Explaining an unrepaired sinkhole home to a national lender is not easy.  I had one with Chase and their AVM showed a price over $100k higher than I had it listed for. I asked them how their program devalued a sinkhole and her words were, "what's a sinkhole?" the house went into foreclosure.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Jeanne,

In Toronto and the GTA, and most of souhern Onatrio, this would be exceedingly rare. We do have contaminated properties, but really no sinkholes.

Thanks for the post! I'll be anxious to follow the other comments on this post from those who have experience.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) over 3 years ago

I had no idea sinkhole's could be a problem for residential sales.  If there was a sinkhole in Manhattan it would be all over the headlines in the news. 

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 3 years ago

We have a 1963 square foot home with a 1950 sf relic sinkhole in our front yard that according to the Geologist we hired probably goes under our house.  Our house is leaking when it rains.  We have mold.  My truss line ceiling joint is cracking and separating at the peak of my cathedral ceiling.  If I close my pocket door in the laundry room I get locked out of my house and use a crowbar to get back in.  I have also been locked in my master bathroom same type door.  I can see daylight under my exterior doors.  My sliding door to the lanai has a gap.  I have cracked tiles, I have lifting tiles on the floor.  My tub is no longer "seated". Every room in my house has cracks somewhere.

The engineering co the insurance co chose has made two glaring errors in their report, they fixed one, and there is another error caught by the Geologist.  The insurance co wants to cheap out of course and fix the under ground and above ground as cheaply as possible.

The new opinion is that it is probably not "fixable" because they never hit limestone at 100 feet of boring and lost circulation on all 4 boring points. 

Our concern is if we grout and there is this huge anomaly out front that they won't attempt to fix is that our house could slide into the anomaly as the grout disturbs the ground.  

We live in Brooksville.  I contracted for insurance, and it is nasty dealing with them - very nasty.

Posted by Carole Sanek over 3 years ago

YIKES . . .haven't had to deal with this (knocking wood).  :-)

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner, Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results (BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time) over 3 years ago

Thanks Michael!

Brian, it's pretty much a Florida thing, but I didn't know how few people knew about them.

Morgan, I hear you! I lived outside the City for many years.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Carole, your tale is heartbreaking.  I know what it is like to have to fight the insurance companies when your home is unstable and in jeopardy.  I am not sure what you mean by unfixable.  Please don't let them shoot grout under your house.  Underpinning is the way to go.  Advanced Pier Technology did a friend's house and was very reasonable. 

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Carla, it's a Florida issue.  Especially West Central Florida. thanks for checking in.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Hi Jeanne - I saw your post and needed to clarify something.  Underpinning a structure does nothing to strengthen the soil beneath it.  Underpins consist of a steel bracket attached to the foundation, which transfer the load of the structure on to a steel pipe pile.  The piles themselves are small diameter (2.875" typically) hollow steel tubes that require lateral support from the soils they are installed in.

If Carole were to install underpins alone, without first stopping the raveling soil conditions, the repair is  temporary, despite contractors' claims or guarantees.  Part of the problem with sinkhole remediation in Central Florida is the great quantity of misinformation.  Hope this helps :)

Here is a link to a video on the subject that I produced in association with the US Geological Survey.

http://www.geo-logical.com/about-sinkholes

Posted by Dan Stewart over 3 years ago

Dan, I watched your video and I am very impressed.  I really appreciate the fact that you found my blog and took  the time to share your expertise.  Thank you for clarifying for those of us who are not experts.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Thanks for all the advice her, it has been very informative!  Yet very confusing.  The engineering companies base their recommendations on whether to underpin or grout based on the damage to the home and if there is not large separation cracks, they don't recommend underpinning, but just grouting and chemical grouting.  So, my question is how stable is a remediated sink hole home that has been fixed with grouting for long term?  It sounds like underpinning may have a longevity.  I was told that the lifetime warranty is only for the pins if something goes bad, but they don't warrant the home if it develops into a sink hole again even with underpinning.  Does grout have equal longevity as underpinning?

Posted by Anonymous over 3 years ago

to #40, I can only share my experience as a Real Estate Broker, and I have spoken with sellers who have had only grout pumped in, and when they got another and yet another sinkhole, there was no evidence anywhere of the previous grout under the home.  How can they know where it goes when they grout?

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago

Thanks Jeanne for your reply. The interesting thing, a remediated sink hole home we were looking at had used grouting and chemical grouting (no underpinning) and costed $134,000 for the grouting.  When we asked a contractor how much it would have costed to underpin it, we were quoted a price of $35,000-$45,000. I know another smaller home in the same area only costed $25,000 to under pin.  These messages indicate that grouting is much cheaper than under pinning.  Why would grouting be so expensive on this home?  One might think that when it costed that much to repair, it would be a solid structure, but these messages indicate that it isn't.

It's rather frightening to look at purchasing a home in Hernando and some of the other surrounding counties.  How will this affect resale value and encourage people to buy homes that will be too expensive to mantain or the stigma of the fear that your home has high risk at developing a sink hole?

Posted by Anonymous over 3 years ago

To #42, many people think that repaired is repaired, and this is just not the case.  I have had people tell me that they have been told there is NO EVIDENCE of grout under their home, yet they have evidence that it was "repaired" using grout.  I understand using grout to fill the home, but I have heard too many people who have had multiple sinkholes, grouted only, no evidence.  It appears (and again I am not the EXPERT) that the house needs underpinning to keep it secure.  I am not going to begin to touch the alleged price fixing of grout here.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) over 3 years ago
Last year we bought our dream home. We waited until we had all credit cards paid off, 6 months of bills in the bank and 25% down on the house. It took us 3 years to find the perfect house in a beautiful neighborhood. 4 moths after we bought the house, we started seeing changes. I started getting contractors, etc to find the problem. At this point, the steps on the back of the garage had dropped over an inch. The corner of the garage looked like the incredible hulk grabbed the bricks and twisted and pulled. And there was a large crack in the slab. When the builder told me I hit the garage I called the insurance company. The insurance company sent the sinkhole claims team. And, 3 months later we were told we have a sinkhole. Our windows don't open. Doors open on their own. The upstairs slants. The floor in my sons room has separated from the wall. And we need over $200K worth of grout put in the ground to plug the hole. As I write this, my roof makes sounds like a baseball bat hitting a bat, repeatedly. I didn't make a bogus claim. I am scared to sleep in my house. We probably will never be able to sell it. And there are no guarantees (2. More cracking sounds just now) that the "fix" will work. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. It's a long process to repair. It's scary and it's potentially financially devestating.
Posted by Tallahassee Homepwner about 3 years ago
I am perplexed by your statement that public adjusters get the money to pay off the house and let the house go into foreclosure. I don't have an attorney or an adjuster. I'm going it alone. Our check is made out to the insurance company and us. I am saddened by your view that struggling homeowners are making bogus claims. It's a scary thing to think that you can pay 50% of your home value to pump into the ground. It's scary to need 700 cubic yards of grout under your house to fill a hole. (can't pin. Limestone is too unstable). What would you do if it was your house?
Posted by Tallahassee Homeowner about 3 years ago

Tallahassee Homeowner, I am not discrediting legitimate claims.  I lost my home of over 24 years (that had 50% equity) due to black mold, and a front porch that had dropped a foot due to a sinkhole) thanks to a disreputable public adjuster that was just a birddog to a sinkhole attorney, and a very dispicable insurance company (Tower Hill out of Gainsville), who took advantage of my family and myself at a time when we were very sick from mold toxicity and displaced from our home and all of our possessions, that were contaminated.  I spent my life savings trying to save my home unsuccessfully.  I am well aware of legitimate claims and tragedies.  My life will never be the same and I will probably never recover financially from the loss. 

I am talking about those who see a crack in the concrete, file a claim, and get a payout without fixing their homes.  Please note that the appraiser who commented #11 had a claim and did extensive repairs.  He consulted with me on this blog.  Also too, please note # 31, who is still trying to fix their home.  Your experience is yours, and is tragic and real.

I deal daily in the aftermath of bogus claims and the fallout from people who try to purchase these homes.  Adjusters who go door to door, repair companies that manufacture damage in order to get claims...the new laws go into effect next month.  No more blank checks to owners.  Your experience was one, and I deeply sympathise.  My experience is vast, and encompasses legitimate claims and illegitimate ones as well, which harms innocent people who buy foreclosed homes without disclosure of previous damage.  I feel bad for you if you get the grout without underpinning.  You have no idea how many people have repeat sinkholes and there is NO EVIDENCE of grout under the home because they cannot control where it goes when they shoot it.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) about 3 years ago

I am looking at purchasing a home with a sink hole issue that is not repaired.  Our intent is to acquire the home, remediate the sink hole, and fix the home.  In your experience, does the home maintain a stigma from a resale perspective.  If we were to sell the home in 5-10 years, would we have a problem even though we have had the repair completed by a reputable contractor and geotech engineer.

Great post!!!

Posted by Gardner about 3 years ago

Gardner, thanks for your inquiry and it was great talking to you on the phone.  Good Luck with your home search.  According to the property appraiser, the stigma is no longer attached to the home when the engineer's report clears it.  In reality, the method of repair is critical.  As we discussed, it is very important to receive a copy of the original engineer's report before you purchase a sinkhole home, especially the one you were considering, which was unrepaired, just as the one in my post.  Sometimes the damage in minimal and questionable,and will be worth the reduced price you can pay if you find the right home.  Many people who are smart investors are doing just this, paying cash, and renting the homes out.  When they sell, they will do so with owner financing, and the buyer does not mind either because they know what they are purchasing.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) about 3 years ago

Kim, I am sorry you were not informed.  I hope you have sinkhole coverage, and if you need a Public Adjuster to help you with your claim, please feel free to call or email me.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) about 3 years ago

Jeanne, this has been a very informative reading.

I currently have a sink hole claim with legit damages. Can I negotiate a cash pay out offer to my lender for less than what is owed in the mortgage (home value is about 180k, I woe 130k) based on sink hole damages of 200k, and pay off the house?

thanks!

Posted by JC almost 3 years ago

JC, I have seen this done but only on a short sale.  You can send the engineer's report to the bank and make them an offer.  Let me know if you have any luck.

Posted by Jeanne M. Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners - CIPS,GRI,S (Jeanne Gavish, Keller Williams Realty Elite Partners) almost 3 years ago

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