Mother Nature: Droughts and Floods


If you look back on the last decade, a lot has been written about global warming and how Earth is shifting. With flooding occurring in some parts of the country and droughts in others, it is a crucial time to remain attune to earth’s changes. Regardless of your beliefs on global warming, an increasing amount of areas, including entire states, are being affected by the wrath of Mother Nature. 

Recently, the state of Texas experienced downpours that reached 15 feet over the normal water level. This caused major flooding to the point that travel was prohibited in some areas, schools were shut down and obtaining basic necessities became troublesome. Natural disasters such as these are by no means a new occurrence, yet they are creating a bigger and more complex problem within the housing industry.

With more properties being managed by third parties, added regulations, and more restrictive local government oversight, management companies and vendors alike are being forced to restructure and increase their workforce. In the event of a flood, there can be a surge of plumbers and roofers needed to repair the damages. Additionally, problems such as standing water, which when not alleviated can lead to West Nile virus and other health issues, can occur. Dry rot and water damage with the dreaded possibility of fungus also grow in probability, and there have even been cases of old oak trees having to be removed because they were falling on properties and risking lives.

Entire communities once vibrant with mature living history have now been decimated and stripped of their heritage. As this not only affects the companies managing the properties, homeowners have had to absorb the escalating cost of repairs resulting from the incessant demand triggered by the floods.

On the other hand, you have states that are recording their worst droughts in history, with California being one of them. Governor Brown ordered a 25 percent water use reduction in April 2015 and affirmed that if California did not limit its use of water, it would completely run out within a year. To enforce the regulation, the state declared heavy fines—$500 per day—would be levied against residents who did not comply with the new restrictions.

In California, the new slogan “Golden is the New Green” refers to our dying yards. Drought-resistant plants have had to replace once succulent, gorgeous lawns. Planned developments have been forced to alter the very landscapes that initially made them more desirable. These golden, and sometimes by design, desert-themed yards are far from the green, prosperous scenery California has come to be known for.

As in Texas, the drought has created a complex problem for California’s third-party companies and real estate professionals. Many cities over the past seven years have invoked new fee structures or levied fines up to $1,000 a day against absentee owners, including banks, on dead yards.

To further compound the heartbreak of our dying landscapes, the water restrictions have created a loophole for inattentive owners as cities face the conundrum of enforcing or foregoing these fines. In California, if you were a new home developer in the past, one of the big enticements was having beautifully manicured yards at the model homes. New homebuilders must now have a new set of regulations regarding their landscapes and what they can offer.

With buying a home being one of the largest financial decisions your client will ever make and the growing complexity of aspects relating to housing, NAWRB wants to hear from you on the ways Mother Nature is forcing change on your community and business. How is it affecting you and your clients, and what are you doing to overcome it? Post your comments below or email them to

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