Bluff stability is a very important issue for homes on the Olympic Peninsula, but what if you’re on the Internet in Glendale, California, looking at waterfront homes in Sequim or Port Townsend or Port Angeles, and the listing says nothing about the bluff, the distance from the home, or how steep or unstable the bluff may be? I showed a home with a bluff that appeared to be quite unstable, but the listing said nothing about a bluff stability.

Bluff Stability

Bluff Stability and Water Views

I arrived at the home with my buyers (the first time I showed this home), and the first thing they wanted to do is walk around the house to see the water view, which was shown in the MLS with a photo taken with a telephoto lense. A telephoto lense might be a good idea to show the true water view, but a high powered telephoto lense that makes the view much better than it really is, ends up being a disappointment for buyers when the arrive to see the view. But there was a bigger surprise for these buyers, and my subsequent buyers who wanted to see this home.

The minimum distance a home can be built from the top of a bluff in Clallam County is 100 feet, and there is talk of increasing that to 150 feet for safety. This home was perhaps only 40 to 60 feet from a bluff, but that wasn’t what really scared these buyers. The bluff appeared to be peeling off in some fairly large sections, and part of that looked pretty fresh. This was very bothersome, because there was no mention of any of this in the MLS.

There is no legal requirement that there be such disclosure in the MLS, and a listing agent who is not a lawyer might not know how to draft such a disclosure, but wouldn’t you like to see something that indicates the house sits very close to a bluff that “may need to be examined by a bluff stability engineer,” or words to that effect? I know all of my buyers who I have showed this home to would absolutely say, “Yes.” 

You are welcome to do what many buyers do as they are filtering through homes in the MLS. Call or email me and ask me about the properties you want to see. If I have seen it, I may be able to help you determine if it should stay on your list, because of a major issue, like bluff stability.

Bluff Stability Disclosure

I wrote an earlier article about bluff stability so buyers can better understand the issues, which you can read at Bluff Stability.

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