M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Building Construction College of Design, Construction & Planning PO Box 115703,
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 TEL: (352) 273-1192 SUNCOM: 622-7697 FAX: (352) 392-4364
Volume XVIII, Number 6
Buying or selling a home in 2008 presents a considerable challenge. The seller is faced
with putting their home up for sale at a time when there are many homes on the market.
Similarly, the buyer of the home, particularly in a coastal location, is faced with the task
offirst finding a company that is willing to provide property insurance coverage and then
determining if they can afford the insurance premium. Presented in this edition of the
newsletter is a suggestion that may help sellers make their home more attractive to buy-
ers. Similarly, home buyers may be able to reduce their homeownership costs by reducing
property insurance premiums.
Attempting to sell a home at this time will require
that the home offer the potential buyer something
that other homes on the market do not have to offer.
In the world of marketing this is called product
differentiation. Product differentiation refers to
the features of any product that make it unique or
set it apart from all of the other similar products
on the market. In the case of a home in a coastal
area, a home that can demonstrate that it offers the
buyer superior hurricane-force wind resistance has
a clear advantage over other homes that lack this
When a house is the product to be sold, it is common
to hear the term "curb appeal" in reference to
what the home looks like from the street without
considering anything else about the building. Also,
near the top of the list of characteristics of a home
being listed for sale, of course, are the price and the
Florida Department of Financial Services
My Safe Florida Home Program
Buyers of homes in coastal areas have the added
challenge, first, of finding an insurance company
that is willing to provide wind-damage insurance
coverage and, second, of determining if they can
afford the insurance premium. Given good curb
appeal, the right location, and the right price, if the
building is not built to withstand the anticipated wind
forces in the location, then its property insurance
premiums will be high (if property insurance is
available) and the home is not a good investment.
An important question to answer is whether the home
being considered for purchase is able to withstand
the hurricane wind forces that can be expected in
the area. Fortunately, the Florida Department of
Financial Services' My Safe Florida Home Program
offers free storm-worthiness inspections for site-built,
single-family detached homes. Buildings that are
not eligible for these free inspections are: Mobile or
manufactured homes, Apartments, Condominiums,
Multi-family dwellings, and Businesses.
In order to schedule a free storm-worthiness
inspection by a certified inspector, the buyer calls the
My Safe Florida Home Program Office at 1-866-513-
6734. The inspector will perform a visual inspection
of the building from top to bottom and will provide
the owner or potential buyer with a report of the
results. This report will:
* Outline improvements that may be made to
the home to increase resistance to hurricane
* Provide an estimate of how much each im-
provements would cost;
* Provide an estimate of insurance discounts
that may be available; and
* Offer a hurricane resistance rating that shows
the home's current ability and future ability
with the improvements, to withstand hurri-
It is also possible for a buyer to arrange to have the
storm-worthiness inspection done at their own cost of
$150.00 by directly contacting one of the Department-
approved companies that perform the certified
inspections. The My Safe Florida Home Program
website at www.mysafefloridahome.com contains a
list of certified storm-worthiness inspection firms. In
order to view the list, click on "Wind Inspections"
shown at the left of the screen and then click on the
"List of Inspection Firms/WCES".
Because of their critical nature, some of the
windstorm damage mitigation home improvements
are eligible for financial assistance from the My Safe
Florida Home Program. That is, you may apply to the
My Safe Florida Home Program in order to receive up
to $5,000 in the form of a dollar-for-dollar match for
one or more of the following improvements:
* Protecting openings (windows, gable-end attic
vents, and skylights). Note that if you choose
to protect your windows, you must protect all
windows, gable-end attic vents, and skylights.
* Protecting exterior doors. Note that if you
choose to protect your exterior doors, includ-
ing sliding-glass doors, you must protect all
* Replacing a garage door with an impact-
resistant garage door.
* Bracing gable-end walls in an attic.
In order to determine your eligibility for financial
assistance, go to the My Safe Florida Home Program
web site and click on the \ lk hlng Grants" link
shown on the left-hand side of the screen.
The buyer is in an excellent negotiating position.
They can use the absence of wind resistant features
that are identified by the storm-worthiness inspection
to negotiate the asking price with the seller. For
example, an offer that is $20,000 below the asking
price may reflect the estimated cost to upgrade the
roof covering and underlying structure and fasteners.
Even if the seller counter offers with a "split-the-
difference" approach, the buyer can include the cost
of the roof system upgrade in the mortgage, which
is likely to be the lowest interest financing available.
Further, the buyer can then turn to the property
insurer and request a reduction in premium due to the
improved wind-damage-resistance of the upgraded
roof covering and structural improvements.
The inquisitive reader is encouraged to visit the My
Safe Florida Home Program's web site at www.
mysafefloridahome.com for additional information.
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Affordable Housing ISSUES is prepared bi-monthly by the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing for the purpose
of discussing contemporary issues facing affordable housing providers. Reproduction of this newsletter is both permitted and
encouraged. Comments or questions regarding the content are welcome and should be addressed to Robert C. Stroh, Director.
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