Lately, it seems we have had to contend with severe weather events more often. When bad weather strikes like hurricanes, fires, flooding, and polar vortexes it can throw our markets and our clients for a loop. While currently dealing with extreme cold in a large portion of the country, fall weather wasn’t much kinder. We saw a significant increase in mortgage delinquencies in regions hit hardest by severe weather events. The good news: in the fourth quarter of 2018 the serious delinquency rate hit its lowest since 2006. Past due rates have fallen slightly with those 60-120+ days past due compared to 2017, while those in the 30-59 day delinquency range saw an even larger drop. For the Panhandle area, overall delinquency rates are down and we are grateful. Our healthy economy is helping families keep current.

“While the strong economy has helped families stay current and push overall delinquency rates lower, areas that were hit hard by natural disasters have seen a rise in loan defaults. The 30-day delinquency rate in the Panama City, Florida metro area tripled between September and October 2018 as a result of Hurricane Michael. Two months after Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas, 60-day delinquency rates doubled in the Jacksonville, Wilmington, New Bern and Myrtle Beach metro areas. And buffeted by Kilauea’s eruption in the Hawaiian Islands, serious delinquency rates jumped on the Big Island by 9% between June and October 2018, while falling by 4% in the rest of Hawaii.” – Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic

For some of our neighbors in other states, severe weather events created issues in multiple areas of their lives. Not only were people displaced from their homes, but from their jobs. The companies they work for were thrown into turmoil coming up with plans to keep the doors open, money coming in, and to continue paying their employees. If they were service businesses, they suffered the most since they rely on local foot traffic for their income.

Actions for Real Estate Professionals

So what can we do to help our clients and communities? As local real estate professionals, our firm decided to act when our neighbors are in need. When disasters struck, we reached out to past clients, local vendors and partners to check in and see what we could do to help. Sometimes it was as simple as sharing phone numbers for local rescues, directing people to where their pets or livestock ended up temporarily or just listening to them as they grieved at the loss of their home and belongings. Because we are so familiar with the resources our region has, we put a plan in place to lend a hand.

As a real estate broker or agent, or even a small business owner, here are a few suggestions to give you a place to start your own plan for assisting your community recover.

  1. Make a note of the neighborhoods and counties that are typically affected by annual flooding, susceptible to fires, power outages. Stay on top of alerts from the power companies, emergency alert services, your local news, and community boards.
  2. Keep your past client list clean and updated. Make contact! Send a card or make a call on once a year or so to let them know you remember them. This serves two purposes. First, you are letting them know you are still there for them and you remember when you worked with them on the sale or purchase of their home and second, it keeps your list up-to-date.
  3. Have a list of resource numbers and locations for animal rescue, senior services, typical sites for temporary shelter, donation drop off places. Chances are your past clients still think of you as their local concierge. Have your list ready and keep it up-to-date.
  4. Consider starting some key neighborhood pages on Facebook or groups on Twitter. Depending on how tech savvy the people in your area are, this is a quick way to reach out, update, offer assistance and be a good neighbor. You can create more than one page or group. Another resource to consider is the site NextDoor. You can be present in the neighborhood circles and get a pulse on the areas you can be of assistance.
  5. Have you considered creating a private map on Google of those you have sold homes, for, or both? You can create map layers and if you are a super agent, you can make a new map each year since they will fill up. Be sure to include your HUD, short sales, and all purchases. These are the people you want to reach out to when weather events strike. Once you create the map, you can edit the map entries with details about the transaction and even add a photo of the home. Then you can be prompt by bringing up the map when an area is affected to see who you can reach out to immediately. This is a great project for a receptionist or simply have each agent add to the map as they complete a transaction.

Local Market Experts

Prime Location Realty’s REO Division specializes in the marketing and sale of REO properties. We’re here to keep your West Virginia real estate assets moving. Contact us today!