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Want to buy a home? You'll have to ride out Irma first

The approach of Hurricane Irma means home sales in Florida are coming to a halt for those trying to buy property insurance. 
{NOAA-NASA via AP]
The approach of Hurricane Irma means home sales in Florida are coming to a halt for those trying to buy property insurance. {NOAA-NASA via AP]
Published Sep. 7, 2017

If you're trying to buy or sell a house, your sale might be frozen for about a week.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. stopped writing any new policies or adding additional coverage, according to the insurer's website. Citizens does this when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning for a tropical storm or hurricane. And other insurance companies, which have similar policies, will soon follow suit.

"Any time there's a storm like this it causes a slowdown and some considerable delays," said Andrew Duncan, owner of real estate firm Duncan Duo & Associates.

The real estate delays happen largely because of mortgage company requirements. Many mortgage firms require verified homeowners insurance before approving a closing.

And many lenders, Duncan said, will require a reinspection of the homes before closing to ensure that the storm did not damage the property.

Hurricane Irma may also impact buyers who haven't yet reached the closing portion.

"They don't want to fall in love with a home that could get damaged in the storm," Duncan said.

Those who won't be as affected by the freeze are home buyers who pay outright for their homes, since they won't need to go through a mortgage, and those who already finalized their homeowner's insurance.

"As long as title companies are open, there will still be closings happening even up until a day before (the storm) because (the insurance policies) are bound," Duncan said.

Citizens Property Insurance, spokesperson Michael Peltier said, will be able to resume writing policies once the warning is lifted.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.

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