It’s every homeowner’s nightmare. Fire damage can destroy homes, lives and priceless possessions and memories. In 2013 alone, there were approximately 369,500 house fires in the United States (source).
Rebounding from such a life-altering event is no easy feat; in fact, picking up the pieces from your damaged home is not only emotionally taxing, but can also be financially exhausting. If you hope to put your fire damaged home home on the market, there are steps you can take to sell successfully.
1. Contact Your Insurance Company
If you haven’t already, contact your insurance company for advice and assistance in the restoration process.
Your insurance agent will most likely prefer that you utilize professional help in cleaning and restoring your home and will provide contacts, resources and financial support. While you may wish to refurbish most of the home yourself to save money, professional work typically yields a more profitable sale.
2. Strip Your Home Before Cleaning
Before cleaning or deodorizing, it is important to remove any cabinets or bulky furniture, as smoke crawls behind these surfaces and stains the walls underneath.
If you intend to keep your carpet and drapes, take them outside and use a heavy-duty vacuum to clean out the thick and oily soot (source). Once these items are removed (along with countertops and walls if necessary) clear any loose soot and ash from the remaining surfaces to prepare your home for a thorough clean.
3. Begin the Deep Clean
Many homeowners will opt for professional assistance in cleaning and deodorizing their damaged home. Most sand blasting companies offer baking soda blasting to remove smoke damage and odor from all surfaces of the home, providing a non-toxic and expedient solution.
Depending on the severity of the fire damage, you may be able to clean the home yourself. To remove soot and smoke from furniture, floors and walls, use a sponge and a mild soap or detergent. Alternatively, you can mix:
- 4-6 tablespoons of Tri-Sodium Phosphate
- 1 cup chlorine bleach or a household cleaner
- 1 gallon of warm water
Be cautious when cleaning with this toxic solution and make sure to use protective gloves, a mask and a fan for air circulation.
When cleaning your walls, make sure to wash from the floor up to the ceiling and only work on one wall at a time. Rinse with clean water immediately after and allow the wall to dry before reapplying the cleaner or paint. The ceiling should always be cleaned last.
For refurbishing wallpaper, contact your local wallpaper dealer for information on appropriate cleaners. Washable wallpaper may be cleaned as directed above, but be careful not to soak the paper. Loose edges may also be repasted with any commercial paste (source).
4. Neutralize the Odor Left from the Fire
The smell left behind from a fire is overwhelming and can last for months. The simplest step you can take to promote air flow is with outward-facing fans by your windows and doors. There are deodorizing sprays you may apply yourself, although many of these products simply cover up the smell rather than eliminate it altogether.
For true effectiveness, hire a professional to apply an odor-blocking encapsulation spray or counteractants that break up smoke molecules throughout the home after cleaning. If you initially chose to hire a professional to soda blast your home, the smell may be less severe or even neutralized after the cleaning.
5. Do a Thorough Safety Check
Your electrical system, pipework, foundation and insulation can all be affected and compromised by a home fire. Hire a professional to check your home for safety and functionality and in turn fix all of the issues you can. If you cannot afford to hire an engineer to examine your home’s foundation, contact your local fire department.
Finally, mold is a common result of house fires, so make sure to meticulously look through your home for any signs. If potential buyers find any mold in the property, chances are the price will be severely reduced or the sale will fall through altogether.
6. Listing Your Home
Federal and state laws require fire damage disclosures be known to all prospective buyers. In your listing, be honest about the home’s damage; however, be sure to highlight the positive aspects of the home as well. If the damaged property is located on a desirable plot of land, many buyers will still be interested.
Once the home is thoroughly cleaned and refurbished, make sure to bring in an appraiser to evaluate your home. The appraiser will fix a value to the house so you know how much to expect from a buyer.
7. Contact GWG Properties
If the damage to your home is too severe or if you don’t have the time or money to refurbish, you still have options. At GWG Properties, we have construction experts and consultants on our team who will come out to assess your property and damage. We can walk you through your various options—and if you decide to sell, we will purchase your home quickly so you can move on and re-establish your life.
Selling your home may be the best option if:
- The damage to your home is severe
- You don’t have homeowner’s insurance
- You don’t have enough insurance to cover the damages
If you choose to sell with GWG Properties, you don’t have to deal with repairs or clean-up. We will purchase any fire-damaged home as-is.
We understand how overwhelming it is to sell a fire-damaged home, that’s why we make it so easy for you to move on with cash in-hand.
Contact GWG Properties today for a free consultation and guidance.