Outside of California, particularly in our colder and snowier states, “winter in Southern California” sounds like a flawless paradise. People might say “It’s not Christmas without snow,” but that only applies to one day out of the year. The rest of the time, people would love to be in Los Angeles or San Diego, where it’s warm and dry year-round. This year, though, might be different, and in a way that residential rehab professionals need to be aware of. When fixing a house for the market, unusual weather conditions can damage the property, negate the work you’ve done, and make it harder to sell. Understanding what is happening and what to do about it, as well as knowing how to position your house to be prepared for whatever may come, is the best way to make sure your fix-and-flip is ready for resale.
The Little Boy And The Big Changes
If you were in Southern California this week you probably noticed a few unusual things, such as snow, winds up to 70 mph, and near Modesto, a rare tornado (which did a little damage, but thankfully caused no injuries or casualties). The winds messed up power lines and shook down trees, but it was the snow that was really strange. People might have asked where it came from.
The short answer is El Niño, the cyclical climate event which causes the ocean’s waters to warm up. This year’s El Niño is expected to be exacerbated by the already-warmer oceans that are primarily a result of climate change. You might be asking how snow came from warmer waters, of course. When the Pacific warms up, it shifts weather patterns and causes more rain (it’s not that simple, of course, but it’s what concerns us the most here), as it did recently. A cold front from an Alaskan storm then came down, mixed with that precipitation, and turned into light snow.
We may not get a lot of snow, but we can anticipate a lot more rain in the next year: Los Angeles could get as much as 70% more rain than normal (and potentially much more). In many ways this is a good thing. It won’t be enough to get us out of the drought, long-term, but could mitigate it and give us some breathing room. However, El Niño is going to cause a lot of weird climate conditions, and unpredictable ones, like snow, high winds, floods, and even more tornados. Most importantly, there will be storm after storm. What can you do to prepare?
Keeping Your Property Ready For A Weird Year
When working on your fix-and-flip, you are probably doing a lot of work on the inside and outside. The problem is that when there is crazy weather, the outside can incur a lot of damage. This is especially true in beachfront communities, whose residents might enjoy the surfing, but could be devastated by the “conveyer belt” of storms. Even when there isn’t extreme damage, there will be wear-and-tear that can negate the work you’ve done and lower the curbside value. Potential buyers might just drive right past.
Here are a couple simple ways to prep your residential rehab for a wet winter and make it more appealing to buyers at the same time.
- Strengthen Your Gutters. Gutters are too often overlooked in the Los Angeles area, as they don’t get much use, and are rarely needed. That won’t be the case this year. Make sure that your gutters are securely fastened and clean of any debris. A backed-up gutter can break, or can leak inside the house, causing a lot of damage. If you’re buying or replacing gutters, you can go with vinyl. These are inexpensive and look good. Some people don’t like them because they tend to crack after a few very cold winters, but they are ideal for a Los Angeles climate, even in extreme years.
- Direct your gutters. Beside making sure that they are strong and secure, make sure they go somewhere. Many gutters just end at the side of the roof where they can trickle harmlessly away what little rain there is. When there is a lot of rain, however, you need to make sure that the gutters go all the way down the house and shunt the water safely in the yard or to the street. This will involve extensions, which may not be slightly, but they are a far better sight than having a water-beaten exterior.
- Invest in storm windows. In a lot of the country, lowering storm windows means winter is coming. Many homes in our area don’t have these—they are sturdy secondary windows that go between the screen and the main pane. They help keep out cold and maintain energy efficiency, and also offer more protection in times of extreme weather. There are some great DIY models that use compressible material to make installation easier. The material expands as you put the pane into the opening, creating a tight seal. It’s still good to use caulk or weatherstripping, though, to make sure the seal is tight.
None of these tips are fear-mongering or over-reacting. Indeed, having quality gutters and windows that can keep out storms, protect against wind, and help counteract potentially cold weather will make your house a lot more attractive on the market. As people get used to the new normal—which is wild and unpredictable—they’ll be looking for homes that are prepared for whatever may come.
Using your hard money loan from Socotra to prepare your residential rehab for El Niño is the best of both worlds. It allows you to prevent as much damage to your property as is possible, and makes your home more appealing to potential buyers. Your property is prepared not just for this winter, but for whatever comes next.