Fire season in the western states used to start in the springtime. Now it’s perennial. The start of hurricane season used to be June 1. This year, the season’s first hurricane, Alberto, blew into the east coast in May. Do we have a volcano season? Just ask residents on the big island of Hawaii. As of last week, +90 homes had been destroyed by the Kilauea lava eruptions.

Thomas Knapp, associate professor of entrepreneurship and academic director of the Master in Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the USC Marshall School of Business indicated that the short-term effect of natural disasters shrinks inventories and creates higher demands on rental properties with rising rent prices.

Realtor.com indicated that last year’s fire in Northern and Southern California decreased anticipated sales by approximately -18% sales and -2% views. Last years’ Hurricanes Irma and Harvey respectively decreased sales by -32% and -24% and decreased views by -15% and -6%.

Long-term effect, on the other hand, is quite different, according to Knapp. “…the impact doesn’t seem to last. People know the inherent risk of buying homes in areas prone to wildfires and hurricanes and continue to buy there.”

As real estate agents, here are things you can do if/when natural disaster hits your market area and your clients.

  1. Help clean up the damaged house.
  2. Help your clients find alternative, safe housing.
  3. Help inventory damaged belongings.
  4. Help with errands and food supplies
  5. Help the client determine whether or not the property is worth repairing.
    1. Are future natural disasters anticipated in the area?
    2. Can the surrounding neighborhood support the value of a repair or rebuild of the property?
  6. Help the client apply for disaster relief.
    1. Learn what governmental and non-profit relief services there are in the area.
    2. Help the client file insurance claims and apply for FEMA assistance.
  7. Do a broker’s price opinion evaluation (BPOE) as government entities and banks will need it in order to determine what level of assistance the client needs.
  8. Help the client ward off predatory scammers who will appear out of nowhere in hopes of benefiting from your client’s bad fortune.