CoreLogic Housing Policy Outlook: October 2018

Recovering From Hurricane Florence

By Pete Carroll Housing Policy, Real Estate



Can the property damage caused by Hurricane Florence be compared to the property damage caused by Hurricane Harvey?

The impact of Florence to our national economy was not as severe as Harvey. However, the economic damage to the state of North Carolina’s economy was similar in scale to that of Harvey in Texas. In that sense Florence is quite similar to Harvey.

Why do storms that seem similar impact geographic regions differently?

We should be very cautious about thinking about natural disaster impacts to homeowners from such a “macro” perspective. Every state economy is different. Every neighborhood is different. Every home is different. And the financial situations faced by every homeowner are different.

What are some helpful recommendations for homeowners, after a storm event?

Following a natural disaster like Florence, it is critical for homeowners to contact their mortgage lender to understand what kinds of federal, state and local aid are available to them. The mortgage lender can provide temporary forbearances or a pause in the homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment, giving the homeowner time to get a handle on what they may need to do to repair and, in some cases, save their home.

In a crisis situation like this, time is of the essence. The good news is that mortgage lenders have access to better information and tools than ever before. Tools that help them quickly determine which of their homeowners’ properties have been most severely damaged including the type of damage, where the homes are located, and which families are most likely in need of their help. This makes it much easier for the mortgage lender to proactively work with the appropriate government agencies and other stakeholders to get homeowners the mortgage relief and other forms of disaster aid they need to recover.

The good news is that with each passing year, our housing system is getting better and better at planning for and responding to these natural disasters.

At an individual loan level, what are the economic drivers, after a storm has subsided?

Some families have adequate flood or other property insurance for their home. Others do not. Some families can absorb the financial shock of damage to their home. Others cannot. Some families are aware of the relief available to them following a natural disaster, which can be the difference maker for saving their home.

With new technology, how has our housing system improved to better understand the impact of storms?

It is only in recent years that we have developed the capability to assess risk where various types of natural disasters are likely to occur down to the individual homeowner’s property, as well as the extent of that damage and negative financial impact to the homeowner. Mortgage lenders, federal, state and local agencies, and other stakeholders continue to work very closely with one another to advance this knowledge and put it into action for future natural disasters. The impact will be homeowners who have a clearer understanding of the steps they need to take following a natural disaster along with faster access to more sophisticated forms of relief that can mean the difference between saving or losing their home.

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