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Sinkhole Scare

I was recently working with some buyer clients. We’d looked at quite a few homes and they settled on one to make an offer on. It was in great condition and really just felt very comfortable.

I saw nothing alarming about it. I have some experience now, working with inspectors and taking classes at CFRI (Central Florida Realty Investors). I’ve seen those HGTV shows where a symptom revealed a super expensive repair. With this house, nothing jumped out at me as problem. There were no obvious settling cracks.

I prepared all the paperwork for the offer, I did some requested research for my buyers, and I asked for necessary addenda and the seller’s disclosure from the listing agent.

That’s when some troubling information was revealed. The seller’s disclosure stated that the house in question was fine but the house right next door had a sinkhole remediated.

SinkholeAnd that’s when our crash course in sinkholes began.

My clients, who’ve only lived in Florida for about a year and a half, asked me for my advice. Of course I told them that sinkholes are well outside my realm of expertise. So all of us got online and did some research.

Sinkholes are very common in Florida, considering we are sitting atop a giant bed of porous limestone. In fact, Florida is the state with the most sinkholes. One can never really know when one will form or whether man-made or natural activity have caused them.

According to Insurance Journal, Florida’s Top 10 Sinkhole-Prone Counties are:

  1. Pasco
  2. Hernando
  3. Hillsborough
  4. Marion
  5. Pinellas
  6. Citrus
  7. Polk
  8. Orange
  9. Seminole
  10. Lake

Covering many of the above listed counties, you can plug in an address on this website and see if a sinkhole has been reported nearby: https://sinkholemaps.com/

How serious a sinkhole you have is an engineer’s best guess and remediation strategies vary. A house with damages caused by a sinkhole can be remediated but it doesn’t fix the sinkhole. It will be difficult or more expensive to get homeowners insurance. And, selling it will be tough. People are scared of sinkholes.

With that knowledge, my clients decided to pass on that house and put an offer on another house. We are currently under contract and heading towards closing.