As many agents know, working in real estate often means being subject to the whims of events out of your control. This includes, but is not limited to, fickle buyers and sellers; a drastically-fluctuating housing economy; and natural disasters that may strike in their local market.

Fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes are among the more common disasters encountered by citizens in the United States.

Since natural disasters like hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes are inescapable in most regions of the country, Realtors® need to know what’s at stake and what they can do to mitigate these unavoidable threats. This isn’t to frighten you or sound the alarms, but savvy agents must do what they can to plan ahead. Natural disasters affect not only your business, but your community, which is a vital component of your business.

According to a recent report in Join Real, homes located in high-risk areas tend to be more expensive — often because they are in desirable areas (like right on the ocean). Appreciation remains high in these markets, despite the risk. However, this means that any damage caused to these homes carries a hefty price tag. According to REALTOR® Magazine, “the costs associated with natural disasters in the U.S. reached a record high of $306 billion in 2017.” This has a ripple effect since communities must shift their resources toward post-disaster repair. REALTOR® Magazine’s extensive research found that, in the month after a natural disaster occurred, 18% to 32% of home sales were delayed.

It’s not just the immediate impact that agents should prepare for. The National Association of Home Builders notes that construction companies are affected by disasters because it becomes harder and more expensive to source materials to rebuild homes.

So, what can you do? Join Real offers several ways an agent can help clients and keep their business running steadily in the aftermath of a disaster:

• “Help your clients with their damaged home.” When your community is affected by a major event, getting involved is a great way to show that you genuinely care about its well-being. Go the extra mile for your clients who have been directly impacted by a disaster – coordinate a supplies drive or offer to help them develop their insurance claim.

• “Help clients determine if their property is worth repairing.” It can be difficult for clients to rationally understand when a home can be repaired and when it’s time to walk away. You can help by running the numbers on the damage and looking at the comps for the area. Knowing that other options are available makes the choice much easier for them.

• “Help clients apply for disaster relief.” Navigating through post-disaster insurance paperwork can be a frustrating and emotional time for clients. Study the policy and determine what clients need to do to make the process as easy as possible. You may uncover tricks that they can do now to prepare.

• “Help clients find new housing.” You’re already an expert on what’s available, and your clients will need to find new housing as soon as possible. Keep lists handy and updated to make this an invaluable resource.

• “Be wary of scammers.” Your clients will be vulnerable to scammers trying to take advantage of their plight. Help them determine the legitimate sources of aid.

There’s an old adage that states “forewarned is forearmed.” Ultimately, this means that — although none of us can predict the future – we can all plan ahead, anticipating some of the curve balls that life may throw our way. You can’t prevent a natural disaster but being proactive can save your clients — and you — unnecessary expenses, stress, and heartbreak.