Business Management

Real Estate Preparedness Lessons from the Recent Earthquake

193 Articles Written

Earlier this week we had a 5.8 earthquake in my home state of Virginia. I realize to someone in California that may be nothing, but where I live we’re not used to that sort of thing. The building I was in at the time shook pretty good, but other than that, no big deal.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

However, immediately after the earthquake I went over all my emergency preparation plans, which in addition to my personal life, also include my business. For my personal plans I have multiple 72- hour kits – I think everyone ought to at least have one. I also have some food and water storage and of course plenty of guns and ammo. (Yes, I’m completely serious about that and can’t understand how any American doesn’t believe in protecting their life.)

My business emergency plans are actually quite simple.

First off, I work from home so I don’t have to worry about an office or a bunch of equipment. I use a laptop and I know if I ever have to leave my house in a moment’s notice I can just grab it and go.

Perhaps the most important thing I do with my laptop is to have a program which automatically backs up my files every day. In fact, a few months ago, the external hard drive I was using failed on me and if it weren’t for the backup copy I would have lost all my business work. This would have been a nightmare beyond explanation.

Another thing I do is to have all of my tenant’s numbers handy.

As I mentioned, the earthquake we had was nothing, but should it have been serious at least I could have tried to reach out to my tenants to make sure they were okay and to find out if my properties were damaged and I needed to make any repairs.

Also, in addition to automatically backing up my files and having my tenant’s numbers, my virtual assistant Lisa also has all this information. In fact, she pretty much runs the business these days so I know she’ll be able to take care of everything if I happen to be unavailable for a while. (Plus, I’ve gone over emergency plans with her and she knows what to do if something really terrible happens and I leave this earth a little sooner than I had wished.)

Lastly, in a location which I won’t mention, I also have copies of all important personal and business documents in a fireproof safe. Yes, I realize I’ve backed up my files 10 million different ways by now, but you can never be too prepared. After all, I’m an Eagle Scout so it’s ingrained in me.

It all boils down to this. Most people are not prepared for any type of disaster. But should an earthquake or hurricane take out your home, you need to be able to be up and running somewhere else so you can continue to run your business and generate income for your family.

    Replied over 8 years ago
    Smart post, I experienced the same earthquake and a hurricane yesterday. As I did run around preparing for the storm your post makes me reflect on how unprepared I really am. It is important and smart to prepare for an emergency. Back up water,food, matches, flashlights are only part of the equation. As you mention names, numbers, computer file back ups etc are the items no one mentions. I am making it a goal to have a plan ready by the end of this week. Thanks for the inspiration. Steve
    Melinda Allen
    Replied over 8 years ago
    Jason, Thanks for the reminder! I feel I am pretty well prepared for disaster as far as food, water, batteries, generator, and yes…guns and ammo (my husband’s forte), however I never gave a second thought to my computer! DUH! Fortunately I haven’t started my business yet so now is the perfect time to get in the habit and acquire the right software and/or hardware. Thanks! Melinda
    Brandon Barker
    Replied over 8 years ago
    I also did a double-take after the earthquake. I live just an hour north of the epicenter in Mineral, Va. No one I know in my area experienced any property damage, but I’ve spoken to several people who are adopting new safety precautions to protect their business’s IT and documentation in case something more severe happens. I also think that your advice for real estate investors is also helpful for real estate agents, who should be checking all their listings after severe weather.
    Donald Stevens
    Replied almost 8 years ago
    Don’t forget earthquake insurance. If the unforseen happens its best to have insurance to repair/rebuild your property.