In South Florida, we hold our breathes throughout each hurricane season. During the past few years, we have watched as storms have wreaked havoc in many other areas of the country and we have been grateful each time that we dodged a bullet. This August, I was glued to the television watching the epic destruction caused by hurricane Harvey, and it was hard to imagine our community bearing the brunt of that much devastation. As I was just about to finish up this article, Irma turned our world upside down, and I am watching my home town in a whirlwind of frenetic energy and fear. As if back in time to the days of Wilma, Jeannie and Francis, we are in the middle of the “cone of uncertainty,” making plans based upon the limited information we have and our ability to predict the future.
I moved to Boca Raton in 1992, just three days before Hurricane Andrew. I learned a lot that week … about hurricanes, about life in Florida, and about the need to be prepared with a plan – before, during, and after the storm. We share a unique bond as “Hurricane Survivors,” as we prepare for these dangerous storms and their aftermath.
In a way we are lucky, because unlike other natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes take time to develop and they give us warning about their impending assault. This offers the unique ability to plan, prepare, and protect ourselves, our homes, and our loved ones to the best of our abilities. In fact, experts suggest that it makes sense to prepare months before the storm warning is anywhere on the radar. We are urged to make a plan and review the plan with family and experts, and finally to stay alert and keep up to date on all weather updates and warnings. There is also a to-do list for during and after the storm once it has come and gone.
There are many similarities between preparing for a hurricane and preparing for the process of buying or selling a house. Similar to hurricanes, a real estate transaction takes time to develop, and if there is not proper planning, trouble may be on the horizon. In addition, planning and preparing can make all the difference between disaster and a more positive outcome. The strategy is to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
Having guided clients through thousands of real estate moves, I understand that there are many moving parts to each transaction. Coordination and focus are the key to insuring the best chance for a positive result. However, even the best plan can go awry, just as one slight turn in the trajectory of the hurricane can create a completely different outcome. As with most major decisions, it is important to consult with experts to help analyze available information and options.
There are many professionals available to guide through the twists and turns of a real estate transaction, such as a mortgage broker, inspector, appraiser, real estate attorney, CPA, financial adviser and of course, a Realtor. They can help determine housing expenses that will be affordable, closing costs, tax consequences, and so many other aspects of the situation. Just as with a hurricane evacuation, there must be a plan for pets, special needs and an effort to make a new home affordable, comfortable and secure.
We are looking for answers – a way to create peace of mind, even as the moving target in our world continues to shift. When we make decisions about real estate, we may not have control over the global changes that occur in Wall Street, Washington, D.C., or around the world, any more then we have control over a hurricane swirling around in the Atlantic Ocean making its way toward the coast. Fortunately, there are always options, and it is more important than ever to help our clients explore what opportunities might be out there for them. Helping our clients to weather the storm, they discover that they are better prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings their way.
As I wrap up this article, I have put up my hurricane shutters, secured my home and I am as ready as I am going to be. I have no idea what Irma will bring my way, but soon it will be out of my hands. To all of my fellow “Hurricane Survivors,” let’s hope that we all head into clear skies and cool breezes, as we move through the rest of this hurricane season and the rest of 2017. Laurie Dubow