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8 Nov 2016
Sequim bluffs run for miles along the beaches, and many homes have been built on low, medium, and high bluffs over the past half century. I’ve written extensively about Sequim bluffs and bluff stability in prior articles [Sequim Bluffs]. I also produced a video that shows you some major sloughing of Sequim bluffs and explains the issues of concern [Bluff Stability].
Many of my buyers retiring to the Sequim area express their concern about the “big one,” especially those looking at property along a bluff. Living on the west coast anywhere raises the question about when the next big earthquake will happen. But even as I write this, there was a recent earthquake in Oklahoma and one in Kentucky. If we do have the big one on this side of the country, I suspect we’re all in trouble on the West Coast, not just those of us living on the Olympic Peninsula.
While you may not decide to buy a home on a bluff that is too close for comfort, you may still want to know the answer to the question, “Does homeowner insurance cover a home that is damaged by slippage or even totally destroyed by going over a bluff?”
The default answer is “no.” But this requires an explanation. You would be covered if an earthquake damaged or destroyed your home on an unstable bluff, provided you purchased the additional earthquake coverage. That coverage is relatively inexpensive, about $200 per year.
But if a home is damaged or totally destroyed on a bluff for reasons other than an earthquake (rain and storms and sloughing), you would not be covered unless you paid for very expensive additional coverage, and few people do that because of the cost.
In either case, if your home is condemned, damaged, or totally destroyed, you may be responsible yourself for demolition and removal of the home, whether it is at the top of the bluff, halfway down, or on the beach. Looking at real estate on Sequim bluffs requires some serious due diligence and careful consideration. As I’ve studied Sequim bluffs, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many homes that are precariously perched on unstable bluffs, and unfortunately, the majority of these homeowners are probably not covered by full earthquake and bluff stability insurance.
Having said all of this, there are many areas where the bluffs are very stable, and the water views are just stunning, and I have many very happy clients living the retirement of their dreams high up on one of our Sequim bluffs.
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I made my appointment with Chuck on a Sunday morning in March, 2013. He showed me 5 houses. Every house he showed me was within my parameters! I was amazed: a real estate who listened, did his research, and didn't waste my time showing me houses I would never buy! I made an offer a few days later. That was the easy part…
Buying a house is always a stressful time in life. Advice to Buyers: choose an agent who is competent, communicates well, and has exceptional follow-up and follow-through! You will spend a lot of time with your agent during the process. Choose someone likable. Go with your gut. I got to know Chuck during the process, and he's a great guy!
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