How to protect yourself as a homeowner from the effects of natural disasters
Natural disasters can have a significant impact on the real estate market. In areas that have been affected by a disaster, property values may decrease as a result of damage to homes and infrastructure. Homeowners in affected areas may also have difficulty obtaining insurance or may see an increase in their insurance rates.
To protect yourself as a homeowner in the event of a natural disaster, it is important to have insurance coverage that includes protection from events such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. It is also a good idea to create a home inventory and keep important documents, such as insurance policies and deeds, safe.
Additionally, it is recommended to take steps to mitigate the potential damage to your home, such as reinforcing your roof, installing storm shutters, and elevating your home in flood-prone areas.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is also important to be aware of potential fraud, such as scam artists posing as contractors or builders. It is important to research and verify the credentials of any contractor or builder before hiring them.
How to spot a fraud contractor after a natural disaster
Spotting a fraud contractor after a natural disaster can be challenging, but there are some warning signs to be aware of. Some red flags to look out for include the following:
High-pressure sales tactics: Fraudulent contractors may try to rush you into signing a contract or making a payment before you have had a chance to fully evaluate the work that needs to be done.
Requiring full payment upfront: Legitimate contractors typically require a deposit, but they should not ask for full payment before any work has been done.
No local address or office: A contractor that does not have a local address or office may be difficult to track down if there are issues with the work.
No references or credentials: A reputable contractor should be able to provide references and proof of their credentials, such as a contractor's license or insurance.
Unfamiliarity with local building codes and permits: A legitimate contractor should be familiar with the local building codes and permit requirements.
Asking to be paid in cash or by wire transfer: This can be a sign that the contractor is not operating a legitimate business, and it can make it difficult to recover any money if the work is not completed or is not completed satisfactorily.
If you suspect a contractor may be fraud, you should report them to the local authorities and their trade authorities if they are registered. It's also important to check the contractor's status with the professional licensing board in the area they operate and to ensure they have a good reputation and are not reported for malpractice or fraudulent activities.