As thousands of Thunder Bay residents try to make their homes livable again after massive flooding three weeks ago, many are worried there could be long-term damage to their property values.

It's a valid concern, according to real estate appraiser Tim Groulx. Even if buyers are satisfied all the flood damage has been fixed, they could still have trouble getting a mortgage.

"Insurers are going to be more wary of ... (the affected) neighourhood," Groulx said.

"Bankers require that, if somebody is going to have a mortgage on their house, they have insurance. And so, if the insurance companies are making it more difficult, then it's more awkward for the bankers to finance."

East end homeowner Gloria Chabot wonders if her insurance company will continue to cover her for flood damage.  

Now that she's made a claim, she's afraid she'll be considered too high-risk to insure again.

Even though she has no plans to move in the near future, Chabot worries the flood has tainted her neighbourhood's reputation for potential homebuyers.

"If I did want to sell (my house), who [is] going to buy it?" she said. "Because they're going to think, 'well hey, you know, they had a flood and sewage backup.'"

Flood-proofing homes for the future

Groulx said he thinks it's likely property values will suffer, but appraisers can't predict exactly how much at this point.

"The reputation will be out there," he said. "Is it going to affect the values and is the reputation of the neighbourhood going to adversely affect the price of those houses? Yes, I think that's a reasonable conclusion.  How bad is it going to be?  We don't know until the houses start to sell again under the new [post-flood] situation." 

He noted it's important the city help homeowners ensure that their house foundations haven't been affected, and through the cleanup process ensure that mould or other pathogens don’t develop.

Groulx also said investing in waterproofing basements to protect against future flooding — such as installing check valves on plumbing and standpipes — is vital to protecting a property’s value.

He added that homeowners are legally required to tell potential buyers that the flood happened, and what they did to fix the damage.