Flooded residents try to put homes up for sale

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:21 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Homeowners affected by the July floods are facing a complex web of choices -- fix up their properties, wait for a buyout, or step away from the homes altogether.

Alex Najduch bought her Montpelier house on East State Street in 2019 for $192,000. The duplex is located just steps from the Winooski River and took on four feet of water back in July. The downstairs is now gutted to the studs.

“As a numbers person, it made more sense to try and sell and regain some of the equity that I’ve lost and then walk away from the property,” Najduch said.

After insurance, FEMA assistance, and crunching the numbers, she’s choosing to sell the home. “I do believe it should remain a duplex to help the community in Montpelier but I don’t know if I’m the person to do it,” Najduch said.

And she isn’t alone. A quick search through the real estate website Zillow shows three flooded homes in Montpelier for sale, including a three-bedroom just a few doors down from Najduch, and a historic home from the 1800s ′s on Elm Street -- all in the $200,000 range.

“The inventory needs to come up in order to create a level market,” said Matt Lumsden, an Essex Junction-based realtor.

He says even with high interest rates, the housing market is still hot and there’s a pool of buyers and investors seeking homeownership. “The housing market has cooled down some relative to buyers that were interested in buying homes -- there just isn’t enough inventory at this point.”

But Lumsden cautions that living in a floodplain is a factor that homebuyers need to take into account. Another factor in the complex calculation of whether to rebuild or sell is adhering to new floodplain regulations. Some homeowners are already in the process of reinstalling utilities six feet above the first floor.

Other homeowners and renters are turning to another option -- waiting for a buyout. This week state officials said over 200 homeowners have inquired with the state about potential buyouts. “It will take time to work through that and it would be disingenuous of me to say we will have the buyout situation resolved before the winter starts,” said Doug Farnham, the state’s chief recovery officer for the floods.

Even for those waiting for a buyout, state officials advise they should move ahead with critical repairs which will be reimbursed.

Big decisions for property owners in a short timeline.

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