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Thinking about buying a house that has water damage? It can be a tough call. Even if it’s the perfect home for you, with all the right features, you might worry about potential problems and losses.

Buying a water-damaged house is definitely a risk. The damage can cause structural issues, like unsound walls and mold, and these problems may persist even after they’ve been fixed. To minimize these risks, it’s important to know what to look for and what steps to take before making the purchase.

Be prepared to ask questions

When house hunting, be ready to ask questions. In many states, sellers are required to disclose knowledge of any material damage in the house. Some important questions to ask the seller are:

  • Where did the water damage come from?
  • Did an electrician check the wiring for any corrosion?
  • How long was the house standing in water?
  • Was the house properly cleaned and inspected or just painted over?
  • Who carried out the restoration work (if any)?
  • Is there documentation available that details the restoration process?
  • Was testing conducted to confirm that the water source was addressed?

Have the home inspected

It’s recommended that you have a certified professional, such as a Utah flood cleanup technician, inspect the home before making a bid. This will give you accurate and complete information.

The home inspector will determine the extent and cause of any water damage. They’re experienced and will be able to identify any hidden damage and potential hazards, like mold, cracks in the foundation, leaking windows, and faulty pipes. With a comprehensive report on the water damage, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with and can make an informed decision about purchasing the property.

DIY-telling between old and new water damage

If the house has water damage, there may not be a way to know exactly how long it has been around. However, there are some signs to determine if it is old or new.

Typically, old water damage has a squishy, softer feel to the surface. There will also be dry water rings around the spot—the more rings, the longer the presence of the water damage. If you see mold or decay around a section, it means the water damage has been present for long enough to deteriorate the area.

New water damage is highlighted by one dark water spot without any rings circling it. The surface of the water damage will feel wet but firm. That’s because the water has not had time to damage the drywall or other flooring material.

Get a repair estimate

Before making a decision on buying a home, it’s important to get a contractor to assess any damage caused by flooding. They’ll be able to provide more details on the condition of the house and any repairs needed. Get a cost estimate for these repairs so you can factor this into your negotiation of the selling price. This also gives you an insight into whether the seller’s asking price is fair or not.

Evaluate estimates and make your proposal

If a house has suffered water damage, it is a serious concern. This damage can lead to mold growth and serious structural issues. The restoration process can be time-consuming and expensive. When bidding on a water-damaged house, consider the following:

  • Obtain the market value of the home by asking local real estate agencies.
  • Contact Utah water damage restoration experts to estimate repair costs.
  • Subtract estimated repair costs from market value to determine the bid amount.
  • Consult with a real estate agent and negotiate the restoration costs.

It is important to make sure the water damage repair costs are clearly stated in the sales contract and understood by all parties involved. If unsure, seek the advice of an attorney.

Consider insurance

When purchasing a water-damaged home, it’s also crucial to consider insurance coverage. Some insurance companies charge high premiums for homes with prior water damage. It’s essential to check with multiple insurance companies and weigh the pros and cons of their offers before making a purchase. This will help ensure you have the proper coverage for your future use.

Note: If the home is situated in a flood zone, you’ll have to purchase another insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. Private companies do not offer coverage for flood damage. Even though Utah enjoys a semi-arid, desert climate, flooding is one of the main hazards in the state.

Strive for a better deal

To get a good deal on a home, it’s important to know its current market value. Research and determine the market value of the home you plan to buy. Subtract the estimated cost of any future repairs from the market value. Make a reasonable offer to the seller based on this difference, making sure to provide a thorough and convincing explanation. This increases your chances of securing a better price for the property.

Get everything in writing

Negotiations can run back and forth. But once a deal has been finalized, go over the agreement again to ensure the water damage repair costs are accurate. You can consult an attorney if any of the contractual terms cause confusion.

Water damage can impact a house due to poor maintenance, homeowner’s neglect, or weak structure. Although it is preventable, dealing with the aftermath can be costly on your part. But if other aspects of the home seem good to you, you can always follow the steps above to ensure the buying price will cover the cost of the water damage.

And, of course, there’s always an option to get a home warranty. This will cover repairs for things like plumbing, electrical systems, and appliances, giving you peace of mind in case any issues arise after you’ve settled in. With a bit of understanding and effective negotiation techniques, you can secure the ideal home and live in it without concerns of water damage interfering with your enjoyment for many years to come.


The risk of purchasing a water-damaged home is undeniable. Knowing what to look for and what to do before completing the purchase are the crucial steps for reducing these dangers. It is advised that you have the residence inspected by a licensed specialist, such as a Utah flood cleaning technician.

8 Tips to Handling Water Damage on Your Home Infographic