Southwest Florida Title Insurance & Real Estate Blog -

As of right now we know that Hurricane Irma is coming and approximately when; but we don’t yet know if she’ll (apologies to men named Irma) hit us directly. In either case, we are thinking about all those who will be affected by this storm and hope that the damage from it will be minimal. In the meantime, here’s our schedule for the next few days and a couple of things to think about related to your real estate transactions.

Some of our #SWFL team have decided to evacuate; others have decided to stay. Because the severest of weather is estimated to not hit until late Friday into Saturday, we plan to be in the office through Friday, September 8 with normal business hours. Monday, the 11th, will be a wait and see affair. Hopefully, we (likely just one of us) will be able to open our doors on Monday with no interruptions in service. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for service updates. We will update them as often as we are able.

Our first bit of advice related to your ongoing real estate transactions is to be kind and patient with your counterparts. Different folks respond differently to looming “disaster” and emotion is never a good ingredient in the real estate mix.

The second item worth mentioning is insurance coverage – both flood & homeowners. We have some recovering insurance industry vets in our office, so I asked them for their thoughts:

  • It is so important for home buyers and owners to realize that homeowners’ insurance does not cover dames from rising waters that enter your dwelling. Since we’re on a peninsula, it’s a good idea to consider flood insurance even if your home is not in a flood zone or your lender doesn’t require it.
  • Flood insurance takes 30 days to go into effect. It is a federally run program and there is not an option for immediate coverage.
  • Just because someone has paid for their insurance does not mean that the coverage is bound and in effect. The insured MUST have a binder in hand for coverage to be effective.

Lastly, it is important to recognize and exercise, if necessary, the Force Majeure clauses in your contract. Let’s look at the latest FloridaRealtors/FloridaBar As Is contract as an example.

  • Paragraph 5(b) reads:  “If an event constituting ‘Force Majeure’ causes services essential for Closing to be unavailable, including the unavailability of utilities or issuance of hazard, wind, flood or homeowners’ insurance, Closing Date shall be extended as provided in STANDARD G.”
  • And, STANDARD G provides:  “Buyer or seller shall not be required to perform any obligation under this contract or be liable to each other for damages so long as performance or non-performance of the obligation, or the availability of services, insurance or required approvals essential to Closing, is disrupted, delayed, caused or prevented by Force Majeure. ‘Force Majeure’ means:  hurricanes, floods, extreme weather, earthquakes, fire, or other acts of God, unusual transportation delays, or wars, insurrections, or acts of terrorism, which, by exercise of reasonable diligent effort, the non-performing party is unable in whole or in part to prevent or overcome. All time periods, including Closing Date, will be extended a reasonable time up to 7 days after the Force Majeure no longer prevents performance under this Contract, provided, however, if such Force Majeure continues to prevent performance under this Contract more than 30 days beyond Closing Date, then either party may terminate this Contract by delivering written notice to the other and the Deposit shall be refunded to Buyer, thereby releasing Buyer and Seller from all further obligations under this Contract.”

In a nutshell, if performance becomes impossible because of Irma’s effects, parties bound under this contract may extend all time periods up to 7 days. This seems fair under the stressful circumstances. Should you have any questions about your transaction and how it may be affected by Hurricane Irma, please don’t hesitate to contact us. In the meantime, stay safe out there!


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