In 2017, Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, utterly destroyed a number of Caribbean nations and severely damaged others. Some, like Puerto Rico, have still not even approached a state of recovery over a year later. Irma was widely predicted to make a direct hit on Florida. But the damage that this hurricane brought, while severe on the island of Key West, was mild when compared to the path of total devastation it cut through the Caribbean.
Irma was a near miss, but future major hurricanes in Florida are a certainty.
One of the realities for Florida residents that is easily overlooked by people seeking to buy homes there is that major hurricanes, the kind that can tear homes from foundations and render entire communities unable to carry out basic functions, are an inevitable fact of life. Hurricane Andrew is the most recent example of a truly devastating storm to hit Florida, causing billions of dollars in damages, killing many residents and permanently displacing thousands of Floridians from their homes. In fact, one of the most striking reminders of the deadly power of hurricanes that non-Floridians get is the presence of heavy, reinforced hurricane curtains that are prominent on many oceanside dwellings. Non-Floridians may also notice the large number of homes that feature cinderblock construction, an adaptation designed to withstand hundred-plus-mile-per-hour winds that would rip the typical Midwestern home from its foundation like a dandelion.
But even these advanced construction measures designed to prevent against hurricane damage can easily prove to be insufficient. And it is the tendency of direct-hit hurricanes to destroy so much housing stock that causes one of the paradoxes of real estate prices in the aftermath of many Florida hurricanes. In the year after a major hurricane, housing prices can actually rise significantly.
This means that those looking for a deal on a home in the aftermath of a hurricane are strongly advised to wait until a year after the event when all of the construction crews, cleanup workers and additional services supporting them have left. A year also gives plenty of time for the housing stock to return to a normal level, ameliorating the severe housing shortages that usually occur in the aftermath of a major hurricane.