Experts: Sinkholes hurt property values

By Margaret Kavanagh , Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 06, 2013, 7:44 AM EST
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Central Florida is home to four of the top 10 counties with sinkhole reports, and they can have a detrimental effect on a property value.

Florida is prone to sinkholes and recent cases have highlighted the problem.

Last week, a 37-year-old man was swallowed up by a sinkhole as he slept in his Hillsborough County home. A second sinkhole just opened up Tuesday a mile and a half away.

"Oh God, it's scary. You never know what could happen," said neighbor Katie Vargas. "It happened to that man, it happened to our neighbor."

According to FloodInsights, which is a part of CoreLogic, a group that gathers statics and data for insurance companies, the list below just released Tuesday shows the top 10 counties in Florida for reports of Sinkholes.  These numbers have been gathered over the last 30 years.

6,174

Pasco

3,789

Hernando

2,557

Hillsborough

649

Marion

477

Citrus

291

Orange

232

Seminole

231

Polk

179

Lake

152

Pinellas

There have been almost 15,000 reported sinkholes in the top 10 counties.

Marion, Seminole, Lake and Orange counties made the list.

But Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties make up a big chuck of those numbers with more than 12,500 reports coming out of just those three counties.

“People should be more awar, in the state of Florida and the kind of soil we have, so having someone come and check it would probably be a good idea,” said Osceola County Property Appraiser Katrina Scarborough.

Real estate experts said a sinkhole nearby makes it tough to sell and get insurance for your home. 

“It definitely stigmatizes the property,” said Rob Arnold, a real estate investor and realtor at Sand Dollar Realty Group.

Depending on the size of the sinkhole, it can also affect nearby homes in your neighborhood, particularly the ones adjacent to the sinkhole.

Arnold said he has bought and sold over 30 sinkhole properties in the last five years.

"My rule of thumb on price is that you take the retail value of the property," Arnold said, "what it would sell for if it wasn’t damaged, discount it by about 30 percent and minus out whatever the repairs would be.”

There was massive sinkhole in 1981 in Winter Park.

Clarissa Howard, Director of the City of Winter Park Communications Department sent this statement about that sinkhole:

"The sinkhole that opened near the intersection of Comstock and Denning in May 1981 was the largest sinkhole at that time in Florida. It swallowed a quarter-million cubic yards, including five Porsches, half an Olympic-size swimming pool, the home of Mrs. Rose Williams for whom the lake is named (Lake Rose) and disrupted telephone and power services. It quickly became an attraction for both tourists and scientists."

The Orange County Property Appraiser's Office sent News 13 a list of 10 examples of how the price of a home was affected by a sinkhole: 

Land Value Before

Land Value After

Building Value Before

Building Value After

Percent of Change in Land

Percent of Change in Building

Notes Date

60,000

12,000

142,829

131,932

80%

8%

11/28/2011

45,000

15,750

266,137

159,682

65%

40%

1/8/2009

49,920

49,920

102,557

45,615

0%

56%

11/25/2008

16,403

14,762

80,843

36,098

10%

55%

9/25/2008

47,300

47,300

65,318

73,432

0%

-12%

9/25/2008

120,000

120,000

153,073

150,730

0%

2%

9/5/2008

70,000

70,000

105,680

94,915

0%

10%

2/27/2007

739,500

591,600

547,023

369,161

20%

33%

8/2/2006

36,784

18,392

56,496

42,571

50%

25%

9/14/2000

64,800

64,800

84,556

44,846

0%

47%

7/4/2000

More helpful information about sinkholes, including answers to common questions, can be found on the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection website.