Numbers Count: Preparing for potential disasters
Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.The numbers: Nearly 36 million homes in the United States are in counties with high or very high natural disaster risk, according to the 2015 U.S. Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report released Sep. 3 by housing data provider RealtyTrac. Forty-three percent of the homes in the 2,318 counties analyzed are in high- or very high-risk areas for any of five types of natural disasters: wildfire, flood, hurricane, tornado, and earthquake, according to the study. What counts: Buyer beware, of course. In the process of buying a home, you’ll want to ask lots of questions and review all the disclosures and inspection reports to identify the small risks like a leaky faucet to the potential catastrophic risks of a flood zone. September is National Preparedness Month, a good time to provide a few tips and resources on disaster preparedness.
As part of your emergency preparations, don’t forget your finances:
- Financial documents: It’s a good idea to keep copies of key financial documents, including insurance policies, bank account numbers, credit cards, mortgage loan number and information for any other outstanding loans. You may want to keep these documents in formats — such as on a portable hard drive or as printouts in a waterproof container — that are readily accessible, even if a disaster knocks out Internet service or electricity.
- Phone numbers: Have the local and toll-free numbers for your financial services providers, including your insurance agent, bank, credit card companies, mortgage lender, and auto lender, if you have one.
- Cash: Access to money can be problematic after a natural disaster, so keeping cash and traveler’s checks in your disaster preparedness kit may be a wise move.