In 2020, seven states located in Tornado Alley saw an increase in resident migration:
This means real estate agents in tornado-prone areas are getting lots of questions from out-of-area buyers about how tornados affect the home buying process and homeownership.
While local buyers, who were raised on tornado drills and tornado sightings, are probably familiar with home-based tornado precautions, agents need to be prepared to explain the impact of tornados on homeowners to buyers with little-to-no prior experience.
Here are five tips to help real estate agents in tornado-prone areas best serve their clients.
1. Explain Tornado Safety Basics
If you’ve lived with tornados your entire life, it’s easy to forget that many outsiders have no idea what to do when a tornado watch or tornado warning is issued. And they are genuinely terrified of tornados. Help ease the fear of the unknown by explaining that:
A “watch” simply means that conditions are right for a tornado to form, while a “warning” means that a tornado has been sighted in the area.
Keeping lawns tidy and trees properly trimmed can reduce damage from flying debris.
The best thing to do in the event of a tornado is to get to a cellar or basement.
If an underground area isn’t available, you should go to an interior room, like a bathroom, closet, or hallway. For the best protection, lie in the tub of an interior bathroom with a mattress or sleeping bag covering you.
2. Show Off Basement Areas
Tornado-conscious buyers may be extra interested in basements as a safety feature. And since many homes in these areas come with basements, meeting this buyer preference is fairly easy.
Make sure to highlight basements in listings. And find out if your buyers prefer an unfinished basement that serves as a blank slate or a finished basement that provides extra useable square footage.
3. Promote Structural Upgrades
Outsiders might not know what sort of safety features are available for homes in tornado-prone areas. Explain that storm doors, impact-resistant windows, and tornado straps can all help protect your home during a tornado. Point these features out during your showings.
You can also draw attention to generators, which can help power the essential systems in the home in the aftermath of a tornado. It’s not uncommon for the power to be out for hours or even days after severe weather. And a generator can make buyers more comfortable with this possibility.
4. Explain Local Warning Systems
Many towns and cities in tornado-prone areas have a siren system to alert locals of imminent threats. Make sure your new transplants know about these sirens. And make sure they know about the testing schedule so they don’t panic when they hear the test sirens.
5. Ease Insurance and Financing Concerns
Buyers moving from outside the area may have concerns about high insurance premiums or mortgage financing due to the risk of tornadoes.
Consider a buyer relocating from California to Texas. This buyer may think insurance companies treat tornadoes the same way they treat earthquakes, requiring a separate, expensive insurance policy.
But you can put this buyer’s mind at ease. Tornado damage is almost always covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy because the actual damage is caused by hail and wind, which are covered. And because this type of damage is covered by insurance, lenders don’t need to require higher interest rates on home loans.