As many people have heard, the next big earthquake is overdue in the Bay Area, and more than likely causing billions in damages and leaving thousands of homes inhabitable. It goes without saying, to many people in the bay area their home is by far their largest asset. A small percentage of people own earthquake insurance as a means of protecting their homes. Earthquake insurance is basically an annual premium with a large deductible should damage occur. The deductible in most cases is no where close to the costs associated with building a new home in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. A lot of people also have an earthquake retrofit done on their homes. A retrofit alone is a great way to protect yourself and there are bay area companies like Rooted Retrofitting https://rootedretrofitting.com/ that can come out and inspect your home for free and give you an analysis of where your home stands. In many cases, homes that were built in the 1920’s-1970’s are no where close to modern earthquake retrofitting standards.
On the 30 year anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake that last struck the Bay Area in 1989, scientists predicted that there is a 72% chance of a major earthquake hitting the Bay Area by the year 2043 https://sf.curbed.com/2019/7/8/20686322/earthquake-odds-bay-area-san-francisco-california-prepare with a 33% chance that the quake will occur on the Hayward Fault. The Hayward Fault runs along the foot of the East Bay hills, something that all residents of the Bay Area, and the East Bay in particular, should know. Its last major earthquake occurred on October 21st, 1868, destroying downtown Hayward, killing 5 people and, injuring 30. With an estimated magnitude of 6.8 it caused damage throughout the area. San Francisco alone suffered $350,000 in property damage. It was considered the “Great Earthquake” until 1906.
Scientists have been studying the past earthquakes on the Hayward fault. They have found that the most recent 5 major earthquakes happened on average every 140 years. Since it has been more than 144 years since the last major earthquake, the clock is ticking. It is very likely that the Hayward fault will rupture and produce a significant earthquake within the next 30 years.
In a lot of cases, a homeowner may be eligible to apply for a rebate of up to $3000 from sites like Earthquake Brace and Bolt https://www.earthquakebracebolt.com/ This is solely dependent on funds available and if your home is in a qualified zip code. In many cases, this $3000 allows the homeowner to help pay for the retrofit and is a deciding factor in whether or not they do the work. Also, many cities like Berkeley have high transfer tax rates of 1.5% https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Building_and_Safety/Transfer_Tax_Reductions_For_Qualifying_Seismic_Work.aspx . Consider a home that sells for 2 million dollars, that’s a transfer tax of $30,000, which Berkeley allows that 1/3 of that $30,000 can be used on a retrofit within one year of purchasing the home. That’s an incredible incentive for the new home owner to retrofit the home as basically in the scenario outlined above they would be getting about $10,000 of the retrofit paid by the transfer tax.
The bottom line is the next big Bay Area quake isn’t “if “its going to happen, its “when”. Do what you can do before the next big quake hits to secure your home.