November 20, 2017
6:41 AM

Superstorm Sandy Recovery  
Voluntary Buyout Program FAQ  
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 Q:How is Substantial Damage Determined? Are residents bound this value assigned to their home for the purpose of a buyout?

A:A property is a considered substantially damaged if the costs to repair the home exceed 50% of the market value of the home. The market value is the pre-storm value assigned by the tax assessor. Residents are not bound by this value for the buyout because their property will be formally appraised before a buyout.

Q:Is substantial damage based on a single event or 2 or more repetive floods?

A:Substantial damage determination is based on a single event.

Q: What criteria does the State use to assign priority for mitigation projects?

A:Priority is based on activity. Activities that mitigate severe repetitive loss such as
acquisition and demolition are at the top of the list. Sayreville should rate very high on the list

Q:Why didn’t the FEMA history I received as part of my claim include two of my past floods? Should I tell FEMA?

A:Two potential reasons.  First, it takes about three months after a flood claim is closed before the FEMA claims database is updated.  Second, FEMA database sometimes has errors related to how the property address is recorded when each claim is processed, which could result in more than one loss record for a property.  The Borough will request a Loss History from FEMA and work to correct the discrepancies that are found.  If you have your loss history and a claim or clams is missing, you should work with your agent or FEMA insurance rep to correct this potential error. 

Q:I like living in Sayreville. Can you apply for elevation to mitigate the flood risk?

A: Yes. However, elevation projects are typically lower priority and there is still a risk to life, as the benefit is only to the home.

Q:What is the timeline for the project and what should I be doing in the meantime?

A:The anticipated timeframe for the project is at least until the end of this year. In the meantime, residents are urged get estimates and provide them to the construction official to verify. Once repair estimates are provided, determination of percent damaged can be made in a day or two.  Also, it is important to make, at a minimum, repairs needed to protect your home from further damage.

Q: I know that my home is not 51% damaged. Will my home be excluded from the buyout?

A:Not necessarily. FEMA supports projects that do not create a “checkerboard effect” and will acquire other properties to accomplish this as long as the Benefit Cost Ratio is at least 1.0
Q:Does FEMA review applications individually or as whole?

A:As a whole package submitted by the municipality. FEMA will verify the cost benefit
analysis provided and ensure that all properties in the project are voluntarily participating.

Q:Will my appraisal be based solely on the house itself?

A:Your home will be appraised on the land and building (real property).  Real property includes things that are a part of the home, such as toilets, cabinets, ceiling fans, light fixtures, etc. Contents are not included in the appraisal

Q: I don’t want to move or be bought out. What should I do with my FEMA funds?

A:If your home has been substantially damaged, you must come into compliance with flood standards. If you had flood insurance and are substantially damaged, you can also apply for additional funds of up to $30,000 to bring your home into compliance through the Increase Cost of Compliance Program, or ICC as it commonly known.

Q:What happens if I get the buyout and I still owe money on my mortgage?

A:Your mortgage and any other liens will need to be paid off, you receive the r
emaining balance.  If you owe more than you will get from the buyout, ou can apply for a short sale. Banks are typically willing to work with homeowners during a buyout program.

Q: Will the application be broken down by neighborhood?

A:No. There will be one application for the Borough of Sayreville.

Q:If my insurance company offers to demolish my house, is the land eligible for a buyout?

A: No.

Q: I don’t have flood insurance. Does that make me ineligible for a buyout?

A:No.  You are at no disadvantage by being uninsured.

Q:I had a “mud-out” done and some of my house is down to the beams. Will this hurt my appraisal? 

A: No. We have done appraisals for homes that were totally gone after a disaster. However, anything that is in the home at the time of the appraisal must stay.

Q:Are there any environmental cleanup issues to consider for a buyout?

A:If there is no history of commercial or industrial activities on the site, then there are typically no issues relative to NEPA. If there is a history of commercial or industrial use, then a Phase 1 environmental review and clean up must be conducted. More specific information will available after the sites have been researched.

Q: What are my next steps as a homeowner?

A:After volunteering for a buyout, we will begin to conduct the Benefit Cost Analysis and advise which homes will be included in the plan for the buyout. Homeowners are advised to consult with the construction office to find out if their home has been substantially damaged. They are also advised to get permits for any emergency/temporary work they have already done. Permit fees for these types of repairs have been waived and there will be no penalties or violations issued.

Q:I’ve had repairs done to my home already. How will it affect my buyout?

A: Some repairs are eligible for a credit at the time of sale. It advised that you keep all of your receipts. It is important to note that you will never receive more than the pre-event market value of your home after insurance benefits and the buyout.

Q: Can I use my insurance estimate as proof that my home is substantially damaged?


Q:My street has numerous infrastructure issues. Will they be considered during the Benefit Cost Analysis?

A: No. Not unless the project was to mitigate the street itself.

Q:Who is responsible for demolishing my home after the buyout?

A: The Borough will be responsible for demolishing the homes

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