Selling A House With Fire Damage

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Selling A House With Fire Damage

It’s a nightmare; you wake up to a smoke detector blaring in the middle of the night. Many things can go wrong in your home, but a house fire has to be among the worst. It destroys your house, your personal property, and peace of mind.

It’s especially ruinous if you have plans to sell your home because you’re nervous about the difficulties of selling a home with fire damage. 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports an average of 346,800 home structure fires annually, causing over $7.3 billion in damages. If you’ve experienced a house fire, you’re not alone.  

This article gives you ideas about selling a house with fire damage and whether you should make repairs before selling it. 

How to Sell a Fire-Damaged House 

After a blaze, you may wonder how to sell a fire-damaged house. 

If you decide to sell your fire-damaged house, make sure that you provide information about the fire. Some pertinent documents include: 

  • Cause
  • Homeowners Insurance claims 
  • Police reports
  • Repairs

Each state has a disclosure form that requires you to disclose any information about conditions in the home, damage, or repairs that may affect the buyers’ decision. Failure to disclose that information may open you up to dead deals or lawsuits. 

Another question you should answer is: do you want to forego repairs and restoration and sell the house as-is or restore the home to its original condition? 

Sell a Fire Damaged House As-Is

Usually, selling a house as-is is the more straightforward response. When you decide to sell it as-is, you don’t have to deal with the arduous task of hiring contractors, managing repairs, and living in a fire-damaged home. A lower selling price is the trade-off for the convenience of selling a home as-is. 

Remember that your potential buyer will expect a deep discount for buying a fire-damaged home. But, sometimes, selling the house without repairs is the better option. Let’s go over some instances in which it might be better to sell your home as-is without repairs:

If the fire was relatively minor and did not cause much damage, an as-is sale might be right for you. For example, suppose the fire was small and limited to only the kitchen. That means the damage stayed in that one area of the house, and the rest of the home would be unaffected. You could potentially sell the home without too much of a price cut. 

Another reason you might sell your home as-is after a fire is the amount of equity you have in the house. Suppose you have a small amount or no equity in the home. You might run into a situation where the cost of repairs is prohibitive, and it would leave you unable to pay the mortgage payment.

In that case, it would be better to sell the home rather than lose it in foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings. 

Finally, the amount of fire insurance coverage you have may make a quick home sale the best for your financial situation. The quick sale and insurance payment for damages may end up being enough money to equal selling your house at market value. 

A group of contractors working on restoring the roof of a house for sale with fire damage

Sell a Fire Damaged House After Restoring

To sell a fire-damaged house, you’ll need to undergo fire damage restoration and return the home to its original condition. HomeAdvisor states that repairing fire and smoke damage costs, on average, between $2,853 and $36,538. On the high end, the repairs may run as high as $158,000. 

The cost to repair your home will depend on several factors including, but not limited to: 

  • Cleanup
  • Extent of fire damage
  • Smoke damage
  • Soot removal
  • Water damage

To help pay for the repairs, insurance policies usually list fire as a covered peril. There are exceptions, including arson and negligence. Some policies may cover the cost of your lodging and damage to your neighbor’s house. 

Should You Make House Repairs

As you evaluate your options, you may wonder if you should make house repairs. That’s a personal choice that is unique to your situation. There are some things to consider as you make this decision:

  • Expense: Cleaning, repairs, and restoration may be expensive.
  • Fresh start: Selling a fire-damaged home as-is will let you avoid the hassle of dealing with contractors, real estate agents, and other bothersome inconveniences. 
  • Insurance: Insurance companies typically pay for fire damage.
  • Market conditions: You may find it challenging to find buyers willing to take on a fire-damaged home. 
  • Safety: A fire-damaged home may have toxic residue and materials that may cause illness. 
  • Time: A complete restoration may take months. 

You may have decided that making repairs is the right choice for you. In that case, you should know the scope, depth, and breadth of the restoration process.

Fixing Fire Damage

When you start fixing fire damage, you should: 

  • Contact your insurance company
  • Hire a restoration company that specialize in fire damage 
  • Wear appropriate clothes
  • Clean the home

Contact your insurer

If a fire burns your house, call your insurance provider. Also, stay out of your home until the fire department or the fire marshall tells you the property is safe enough to enter. 

A hired contractor working on the roof of a house for sale with fire damage

Hire contractors who specialize in fire damage 

Depending on the severity of the fire and damage, you may need to hire a structural engineer who can provide information about the safer and salvageability of the following: 

  • Floors
  • Roof
  • Walls

A structural engineer will have the specialized knowledge to tell you if the home is salvageable by inspecting the:

  • Foundation
  • Frames
  • Structure

Once you determined if there is any structural damage, you’ll most likely need to hire a professional because of the general danger and health hazards left in your home after a fire. 

You should be able to find companies that specialize in the following types of damage cleanup: 

  • Water, fire extinguisher, and sprinkler cleanup: $3,000 to $6,000
  • Soot removal and cleanup: $400 to $1,700
  • Major repairs: $15,000 to $25,000 per room this can include:
    • Drywall repairs
    • HVAC
  • Smoke damage deodorizing: $200 to $1,200 per room 

These restoration services can become expensive, but may be the right solution for you if you have the cash to spare.

De-fumigating the House

The smoke odor comes from tiny particles of soot, and fire-damaged material clings to your home’s floors, furniture, surfaces, and walls. Removing the smell is not easy, and de-fumigating the house comes from a deep, professional cleaning.

You can do some of the work yourself by leaving out baking soda, a natural odor absorber. You’ll need to open up your doors, cabinets, and windows to let fresh air in and circulate the smell of smoke out of your home. You can also try the following remedies: 

  • Pressure wash all exterior surfaces
  • Wash or clean all interior items
  • Clean carpets and other fabric surfaces
  • Hire an HVAC pro to clean your HVAC system

Eventually, you’ll need to hire a professional cleaning company that uses an ozone generator. The ozone generator destroys leftover smoke particles in your home. The process is dangerous, so you’ll need to hire a contractor, which costs $200 to $400.

A red dehumidifier in a house for sale with fire damage

Dehumidifying the House

Why do you need to dehumidify after a fire? Most fire departments will use water to extinguish a house fire. The ash and soot from fire and water start to seep into the ceiling, floors, surfaces, and walls within minutes. Further damage is all but guaranteed if you don’t select the right mitigation process.

If you let the seepage go unchecked, it might develop mold, mildew, and other smells. Those are hazardous to your health and compound an already bad situation. 

You’ll want to dehumidify your house to dry the burnt and water-logged items in your home. Also, a dehumidifier starts the process of removing some smoke and soot particles from the air. The removal of those particles promotes improved air quality and a cleaner smell. 


A home fire is a devastating thing to experience. Besides the obvious emotional and financial problems that arise from a house fire, it can be awful for someone trying to sell their home. 

After a fire, you can still sell your home, but you have to decide if you want to sell the house as-is or make repairs. 

There are pros and cons to either decision you make. If you sell the house as-is: 

  • You sell the house usually faster but for a lower cost. 
  • Buyers may be reluctant to purchase the home. 
  • The insurance claims process may provide a fair payout; the payment and the discounted sale price may be enough to make you “whole.”

If you decide to postpone the sale until you clean, repair, and restore the home:

  • It’s expensive but may result in higher sales prices.
  • You might devote months to the process. 
  • Your insurance company might cover the costs; check your policy to be sure.

The cost to repair or renovate your home can quickly escalate. In addition, your insurance policy may only cover part of the cost. You need to know how much fire damage your policy covers. 

If you want to sell your home in an as-is condition, you can search for a cash buyer for a fast sale. With We Buy Houses For Cash, you can get an all-cash offer in little time. Even better, you could have cash in your hand in as little as ten days without stressing about repairs, preparing costs, real estate agent commissions, and other closing costs. 

Contact us to get a FREE, no-obligation offer for your fire-damaged home!

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