Purchasing or selling a home with earthquake damage? Here's what you need to know

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — For many people, a home is the biggest purchase of their life, and the process of buying a home can shake buyers up emotionally, especially if the home suffers earthquake damage. However, real estate agents say don't let that scare you when considering your new purchase.

Paul Callaway is an Associate Broker with Unity Home Group and eXp Realty. He says most of the homes he's sold with earthquake damage suffered from mostly cosmetic issues.

"I've seen cracks in the drywall, especially vertical cracks and horizontal cracks along the joints where the drywall comes together," Callaway said.

But some homes on the market have suffered more serious structural issues like damage to the foundation or plumbing. Callaway says either way, it's important to work with a home inspector that can give you an accurate assessment of what it will cost to fix any issues, which will ultimately help you determine if the sale is right for you.

Callaway says a home inspector's findings could end up becoming a good negotiation opportunity.

"Maybe the sellers are not in a position to do the repairs financially, or maybe they just don't want to go through the difficulty of finding a contractor and getting those repairs done," Callaway said. "So they'd probably be willing to sell that home to you at a reduced price, maybe much lower than fair market value. You could do the math on it, figure out what it would cost to make those repairs, and then buy the home and do those repairs yourself."

Buyers and sellers alike should be aware of state laws that require full disclosure when it comes to home damage.

"So they (sellers) just need to be open and honest about it," Callaway said. "Speaking with a professional real estate licensee in this state, they can get good information on where to go, whether they look to do the repairs ahead of time or put it on the market and let the buyers do the repairs down the road."

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