April 23, 2018

Sinkholes Become Bigger Threat to Home Owners

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Sinkholes Become Bigger Threat to Home Owners

The number of sinkholes is growing, putting more homes at risk. The problem is most evident in Florida, where some experts say it even has the potential to threaten the housing recovery. 

Sinkhole activity first began being recorded in 1960, and one-third of the sinkhole activity recorded since that time has occurred in the last 13 years. What’s more, half of that sinkhole activity happened in the last three years alone. 

What’s behind the rise? Some geological experts are blaming the increase on developers who pump more water out of the ground for new projects or for agricultural use, CNBC reports. Heavy rains on the top soil can compound the problem. 

"As builders are forced to go farther and farther out of cities in search of developable land, compromises such as building on less than ideal sites have to be made to deliver competitively priced properties," Peter Zalewski, an expert in Florida real estate development, told CNBC. "We think this factor is only going to contribute to the sinkhole problem in the future on the Florida peninsula. At the end of the day, technology can only serve as a stopgap against Mother Nature."

Currently, sinkhole disasters are impossible to predict. Some areas in Florida are being as identified as more at risk than others. For example, the Tampa Bay area has been nicknamed “Sinkhole Alley.” 

Insurance claims for sinkhole damage have grown significantly in the past few years. Claims in Florida have risen from 2,360 in 2006 to 3,135 in 2010, according to the Office of Insurance Regulation. Sinkhole insurance can cost around $200 to $2,000, depending on the home’s location. 

Source: “Overdevelopment widens Florida sinkhole problem,” CNBC (Aug. 15, 2013)

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