Sunday, August 15, 2004

Real estate agents brace for hurricane

Charley bears down on Florida coast

Michael Bowers, a Realtor in Sarasota, Fla., has seven homes under contract that are scheduled to close within days. Normally that would be cause for celebration. But today, it's cause for worry. Hurricane Charley is bearing down on the western coast of Florida, with Sarasota and other communities potentially in its path.

"I have some real high-end listings," Bowers said today, including a $3 million home on the bay. "I'm (thinking), 'Oh no, here we go.' There's a lot of concern. It's a nervous time. I'm just hoping there is no damage to any of them," he said.

Bowers, who has lived in the Sarasota area for 12 years, isn't sitting still. He went to Boca Raton and set up a personal "command center" away from the storm's center. "We're one of the few people you can get a hold of," he said. Bowers has already contacted a work crew that will conduct any necessary repairs to the listed homes in the wake of the massive storm. "We'll be available to help all of our sellers afterward."

He has boarded up his own home in the Sarasota area and shut down the office, preparing for the worst. "This is the first time I've ever picked up and ran out," he said. He said he has been intently watching the Weather Channel with his relatives to monitor the storm's approach.
The Florida home market has been booming, and Bowers said there are probably 100 homes in the Sarasota area that were scheduled to close over the next week or so. The hurricane is a reminder about the importance of securing hurricane insurance as early as possible in the home-buying process, Bowers said.

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