As the snow starts to melt, welcoming the blooming season of Spring, damages to homes are also getting welcomed by this change of seasons.
This is why it's important to be smart when it comes to buying a property, especially in the state of Alaska.
Alaska is no longer following the rule of "caveat emptor" better known as "buyer beware". What does this mean for Alaska and how can this help your property and flood insurance purchase? Let's find that out in today's blog.
The Last Frontier State
Alaska is one of the states that are really known for cold weather and beautiful mountains. You can't really blame it being that it's located in the far northern areas of the country.
However, despite it almost being a "winter wonderland" for some, this type of colder climate in Alaska also presents some concerns when it comes to the structural integrity of properties. You have to be cautious of ice melting and creating water damage to your home, spring runoff, and hail damage.
When buying a property, you want to be sure that you're getting the most of what you're paying for. For most of us, that's a lifetime mortgage we're talking about and you don't want to get frostbite with all the property damage that you didn't see.
This is why it's a good thing for buyers in Alaska to know that you can make a good decision when buying a property since it's not a buyer beware state anymore. This simply means that since the caveat emptor rule no longer applies, sellers and real estate agents will have to meet disclosure requirements before selling a house.
It's important to note however that in Alaska, disclosure statements can be waived under the condition that both seller and buyer agreed to do so.
Alaska's disclosure law, as aforementioned, states that sellers are required to disclose or share any and all details about the history of the property that's in the market. We're talking about a disclosure form here that needs to be completed.
For sellers — failing to do this will be met with legal liabilities which can really hurt your chances of selling a home to anyone. This property disclosure expects sellers to be honest to a prospective buyer when it comes to multiple things about the property.
From the materials used in the construction, exposure or history of hazardous materials, toxic materials like the lead-based paint of the house to its relative environmental risks, these are some of the things that you need to disclose.
Some of the flood-related things that this mandatory form will ask you are as follows:
- Are you aware if the property has flooded?
- What is the flood zone of the property?
- Are you aware of environmental damages to the property due to floods, earthquakes, high winds, and other natural causes?
As you can see here, this is just a glimpse of what you will be required to share. This can be very helpful to see whether or not your buyer is really motivated to buy the property even after knowing its unlikable traits of it.
For buyers — this can really help you understand the risks that you might be facing. If there is an issue with the property, you will be able to see through the disclosure form. This helps you understand how to be safe in that property and also look at the actions you would need to fight these risks.
It's important to note that this process is also helpful when buying flood insurance especially now that we're gearing towards implementing 100% of the Risk Rating 2.0.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) updated its flood insurance rating system in which the main focus of your premium rates is concerned with the flood risks you are facing. This includes flood history, flood data, and the type of floods that your property experiences.
Asking the Right Questions
Although you're going to get everything you need to know about the property you're buying, it's still important to ask the right questions.
Alaska will be requiring sellers to disclose everything they know about the property they're selling. This could be through the fact that they need that information for the mandatory disclosure form, but also for the length of their stay on the property.
However, as a buyer, you should still do your part or what's called due diligence. This is why it's best to speak with a real estate attorney for legal advice on buying a new home — not just in Alaska.
This way, you get the most out of your purchase agreement. One of the important things that you might not see in that disclosure form is the flood claim history on the property.
Flood claims have shifted to become one of the biggest factors when it comes to the rating system, especially with the NFIP. The catch is only the property owner can only have a copy of these documents, so you want to make sure that you will be able to get an insight into the claims history for the property.
As a seller, making sure to answer all the buyer's questions with your own set of legal advice as well can protect you from unwanted legal liability.
It's important to note that in states like Alaska where the caveat emptor is no longer applicable, not honestly answering the buyer's question or omitting information from them during the purchase process may be considered an act of fraud.
Buying a Property in Alaska
One of the best decisions you could make during this process is doing your part so that you avoid any issues with the purchase.
This applies to both buyers, making the most of your diligence period and maximizing the opportunity to ask the right questions, and sellers to protect themselves and simply ensure a smooth real estate sale. When it comes to the legal side, we can only discuss much...
However, if you have questions about understanding your flood risk, how to reduce it, or different flood insurance options in Alaska then we can help you.
You can check out our learning center here
You can also give us a call
Remember, we've got an educational background in flood mitigation and we want to use it to help you understand flood risks and flood insurance, so you won't have to worry about them.