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Assessing the Value of Your Fire-Damaged House


If your house has been damaged by fire one of the first things you likely want to find out is the value of what is remaining.

The good news is you don’t have to be a licensed inspector to effectively evaluate a property’s value. Here are some things to consider when attempting to assess the value of your fire-damaged house.

The Neighborhood 

The neighborhood is a factor that must not be overlooked. That means you should analyze the neighborhood itself. Does it feel safe? Is the neighborhood in transition? If so, is it getting better or worse? Is the street a quiet street?

Always remember that quiet streets are always in more demand. Last, but not least, you must have an idea who the ultimate end buyer will be. Who is going to live in the house? Who will a cash buyer sell it to? Who will a landlord buyer rent it to?

Beware of external factors, as well. The property with a huge television station antenna right behind it will be less desirable to most home buyers. 

The Exterior 

The exterior of your fire-damaged house is a key factor to consider in your value assessment. Note the construction of the property. Brick homes pull a higher price than wood-framed properties. So, you’ll always need to consider a property’s construction as you go along.

Foundation trouble can be determined by examining the outside of the house, as well. Does the house look like its slanting or pulling to any one side?

If so, this could be an indicator of foundation trouble. Be sure to note any suspicious items on your checklist; even if you’re unsure.

It’s easy enough to determine the condition of a roof without climbing on top of it with a ladder. One way to do that is to look at the condition of the gutters and down spouts. Rarely does someone replace or repair a roof without also giving attention to the gutters.

If it’s a slanted roof, look for uneven or curled shingles and other signs of wear and tear. Be sure to note those findings on your sheet for record and reference.

Flat roofs are easier to inspect from the inside of a property. If you have access to the attic, inspecting a roof becomes a little easier.

Once inside the attic look up to see whether sunlight is protruding through small slits or holes in the sub-roof or wood boards.

If sun is getting in – most likely – water is too.  If the access leads to the top of the roof, then proceed with caution.  Look for proper drainage and signs of wear and tear.  All these notes will help you determine repair costs later.

The Landscaping

It is amazing the number of people who ignore the value of a good landscaping job. We are talking about both retail sellers and investors alike.

Often, their thinking is to save on their budgets … or maybe they’re just clueless. Real estate agents call this “the curb appeal.” Most buyers (retail buyers) decide right at the curb within minutes of driving up whether they like a property.

So, be sure to make note of overgrown vegetation and large trees which should be removed. It would also be wise of you to factor in estimates for landscaping, particularly if it was damaged during the fire, for example by firemen trying to put out the fire.

The Cosmetics

The cosmetics of your fire-damaged house include paint, wall repair, floor coverings (carpet, tiles, hard wood, etc.). While in each room, note the condition of interior doors as they will add up in price very quickly.  However, interior doors are easily overlooked. Also, make notes of bedroom sizes – take a guess. You can tell a small bedroom from a large bedroom.

The Mechanical Systems

This is where many people get nervous when trying to determine a house’s value. For example, many are uncomfortable trying to determine the condition of a furnace unit. That’s until they learn a little trick.

The trick is this – you can now photograph the mechanical systems in great detail, which can be used later to show experts for their opinions.

Many if not most mechanical systems are located in dark dreary places, especially in older houses. Your flashlight will be needed for those hard to see areas and for extra lighting for photos.

Take digital photos of the units themselves to include pipe fittings, electrical wiring and also any stamps or labels. Open the cover to the electrical panel and get a good close up photo of the box to see if there are fuses or circuits.

Determining Repair Costs

Once you have examined the fire-damaged house make a list of items that are going to need to be repaired. After conducting your own inspection you should have a better idea of the worth of your fire-damaged house and what repairs are needed.

Now armed with this knowledge you can have contractors come in and give their estimates for what needs to be done. Be sure to get estimates from at least three contractors.

Remember, estimates are just that – estimates. The renovation business is never exact. A contractor can give an estimate, but won’t know actual costs until they begin to open walls and dig in.

That’s why on your inspection checklist should have two columns – one for estimated costs and one for the actual costs.

Be sure to use the more conservative number (the highest) for your estimates. It’s better to figure the project cost using higher repair cost estimates than lower.

Of Course, You Can Always Sell Your House Without Repairing It

If you want to skip a long, stressful repair process for your fire-damaged house, you can sell your house in as-is condition to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses.

We pay all cash so that you can get your money fast and move on with your life. To learn more, including if your house qualifies to receive a free quote from us, fill out the form below.

Photo by Courtney Wentz on Unsplash




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