Agents open about flood risks
YVE Stocks says she always warns prospective homeowners that if they buy a house in Warwick’s flood zone they may well have “waterfront views” from time to time.
The Harcourts Rural saleswoman yesterday responded to criticism of local agents by householders affected by the devastating floods of December and January.
As reported yesterday, new flood mapping released by the Southern Downs Regional Council was unveiled at the weekend at public meetings in Warwick and Killarney.
Some residents who spoke to the Daily News said agents had failed to inform them their homes were liable to flooding, a claim which Ms Stocks said could not be left unchallenged.
“Ethically and morally you have to be open about any potential downsides to a property,” she said.
“There may be some people in the industry who are not up-front, but the vast majority of agents tell people what they need to know.
“There is also the concept of buyer beware – if a property is cheap there is usually a reason.”
Ms Stocks said there was no point in agents trying to withhold information which could influence a person’s decision on signing a contract.
“Reputable agents tell buyers everything they need to know and if you have been operating in a community for some time you will know where the flood risks are,” she said.
“But I think it’s also fair to say that if you live near a riverbank you need to expect that you might occasionally have waterfront views.”
Helen Harm of Helen Harm Real Estate – who was forced to bail out of her own office on Fitzroy Street in both recent floods – agreed that buyers had a responsibility to educate themselves and “ask the right set of questions”.
“At the same time, we have a legal requirement as agents to disclose what we know about a property when asked about particular issues, whether it be flooding, termites or whatever else,” Mrs Harm said.
“If we don’t, we can get ourselves into quite serious trouble.
“Having said that, there are council records that people can access and solicitors can do searches to discover information about properties.
“You do a building and pest inspection, or you should do, when you buy a property so surely flood is something else you need to check out.”
Mrs Harm, who has several flood-prone residences on her books, said she always showed buyers “where the water came up to”.
“Because the floods were fairly recent, at the moment it’s still quite obvious where they went, with debris still on fences and so on,” she said.
“But let’s be honest, if you can see the river from the house you’re looking at and all around is flat, surely that causes you to ask questions.”
Mrs Harm said buying property often entailed “a calculated risk”.
“When I set my office up here I knew there was a chance it could flood and when it did I had to accept I’d taken that risk,” she said.
“If you’re buying a car you get it checked out and with property likely to be the single business financial commitment anyone will make you need to be educated and informed.”
The Daily News is planning a special report on the floods six months on.
If you have a story to tell about insurance hassles or getting back on your feet give Jenna Cairney a call on 4660 1318.