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It's A Seller's Market For Flooded Properties In Baton Rouge

The process of rebuilding a home that has flooded is hard and frustrating. Some flood survivors are choosing to sell their property and start over somewhere else. Before the August flood, Baton Rouge was a sellers market. Many are finding it still is, even if your home took on water. Karen Henderson from WRKF reports.

After years of living in an apartment, 32-year old single mom, Deatriz Riggins, was happy to finally get into her first home.

"It was right under 14-hundred square feet, had a nice little screened in porch in the back. Three bedroom, two bath - just right for my twins and I," Riggins recalls.

She'd been in her house for four years when the August flood hit. "I got five and a half to six feet of water in my house, and the whole process of cleaning started."

The home she loved was now filled with wet carpeting, clothing, and furniture that had to go. The walls, stripped to the beams, Beatriz reached out to Joy Russell, a local realtor, as she considered her next steps.

"When it first flooded, "Russell says, "she had called and was asking about the property values and things of that nature because she was thinking about keeping the house."

Russell works for Keller Williams. She would hear from Deatriz several times over the next few months. Deatriz says she went through various emotional stages in that time. "Like the mourning period, to where, oh my goodness all my stuff is gone." She says. "And then the motivation - gotta get cleaned up, and dealing with the bank, mortgage company, insurance."

Fortunately Deatriz received enough money from her insurance to pay off her home. That, and being able to move in with her father helped her decide what to do next. "We ended up listing her house last month, we got a contract on it in two, maybe three days, and we closed on it in a few weeks," Russell says.

Deatriz's home fits into a newly created category called "currently damaged". Ginger Maulden, president of the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors, explains: "Most of these homes have been flooded, and they are gutted and treated for mold, and up on the market, and people are buying them."

Maulden says more than 600 of these homes have sold "as-is" in the past six months. Many of these properties are bought by investors who hope to flip them for a profit. Once renovated and back on the market, there are people who will look past the fact that a home has flooded.

"A lot of people look at it that they can get a house with new floors, new cabinets, new countertops, updated amenities," Maulden says. "Some of these houses are selling for the same price they were and some even getting a little bit more."

Investor Jae Alexander, with Pinnacle Homes and Properties, is counting on a little bit more. "I have either bought and sold or bought and currently renovating between 10 to 12 properties since August," Alexander says.

He knows the window of opportunity is short. "Right now the market is hot, eventually the inventory is going to balance itself out. Now it's a shortage eventually you're gonna have a lot of updated properties out there and then the buyers are going to have a lot to choose from again," Alexander explains.

Deatriz Riggins is in the market for a new home, but after her experience she's not interested in one that flooded. "It may not ever happen again, but when you see that happening you see all your stuff," she pauses. "I mean, I only had four years of stuff and that was devastation for me."

Recent housing figures from the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors help paint a picture of how flooded home sales are affecting the market. They show a 17.5-percent increase in home sales in January this year over last year, but an average sales price decrease of more than 10-percent.

This report has been brought to you by the Louisiana Public Radio Partnership, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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