Is My House in a Flood Zone?

Given what climate change brings and the potential risk it poses for homeowners, you might be wondering if your home is in a floodplain. Whether you are a First time home buyerslooking to sell a vacation home or just a homeowner looking for answers, you have the right and responsibility to find out.

Floods are one of the most costly natural disasters that damage not only the structure of your home but also your belongings. In fact, if your home floods an inch, the damage can cost you from $ 25,000. Flood damage can be caused by many environmental factors such as hurricanes, a broken dam, severe storms, over-saturated soils from overflowing rivers, lakes, oceans and more.

Whether you are in Vancouver, BC, or Miami, Florida, Floods can happen anywhere, and the number of homes at risk of flooding is increasing every year. However, many people across the country are unsure which flood zone their home or future home is in and whether they are really at risk. We'll show you how to check the floodplain of your home, what the different floodplains mean, and what you need to know when buying or selling a home in a floodplain.

Homes near coastal areas or bodies of water are usually at high risk of flooding

Check the FEMA flood map to see if your house is in a flood area

First, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood map service center, a tool that displays information such as floodplain areas, flooding, and your home's level of risk. Enter the address of a property and a map showing the flood zone will appear. When analyzing the map, it is important to remember that only part of the property can be in the floodplain. The classifications of floodplain areas by FEMA range from low risk areas to high risk areas. Zones B, X and C are low risk flood zones, while A or V are high risk flood zones. Let's delve into the meaning of the different floodplain areas.

What do the different flood zones mean?

Areas marked with the letters A or V are considered high risk areas, while areas marked with the letters B, C or X are considered low to medium risk areas. FEMA has numerous Classifications of floodplains. Here are the most common floodplains and what they mean:

Zone description
AE, A1-A30 Zone AE is a newer version of the former zones A1-A30. These zones represent areas with an annual flood probability of 1% for which SFOEs have been established. Flood insurance is compulsory in these zones.
AH An area with a 1% chance of being flooded each year, with a 1 to 3 foot chance of water pooling in areas. With a 30 year mortgage, the chance of a flood is 26%. This is a zone where flood insurance with BFEs is mandatory at selected intervals.
AO This zone is specific to properties near a river or stream. Areas in this zone still have a 1% chance of flooding per year with a 26% chance of flooding over a 30 year mortgage. Flood depths range from 1 to 3 feet, which means that Zone AO ​​requires flood insurance.
AR An area with an increased risk of flooding where temporary flood insurance is required. This area is protected from the 1% annual random flood by a federal flood control system that is actively building or restoring a flood control system such as a dam or dam.
A99 An area that will be protected after a federal flood protection system such as a dam or dike is completed. This zone still has a 1% annual flood chance and is a required flood insurance zone.
D. This zone is intended to cover all other risk areas that are not defined by other floodplain areas. Zone D indicates a possible risk of flooding, but the level of risk is indeterminate.
V Coastal areas flooded with a 1% probability of flooding. This zone does not have SFOEs but is considered a high risk area with mandatory flood insurance requirements. With a 30 year mortgage, the chance of a flood is 26%.
VE, V1-V30 Coastal areas are subject to a 1% probability of flooding per year, with additional hazards from storm-induced speed waves. BFEs are determined in this zone. The mandatory requirements for purchasing flood insurance and the standards for floodplain management apply.
X (shaded), B This is a medium risk flood zone with a flood probability of between 100 and 500 years. These areas are typically protected by levees or have shallow floodplains. Zone B will be replaced by the shaded zone X on new flood insurance tariff cards (FIRMs).
X (unshaded, C Zone C and Zone X are low risk areas with a 0.2% probability of an annual flood. These zones usually have minimal flooding, although there may be some damming or local drainage problems. Zone X in particular is considered to be outside the 500-year floodplain and is protected from the 100-year flood by a dike. Zone C is replaced by unshaded Zone X on new FIRMs.

* Based on high water level (BFE): Surface water rise due to flooding has a 1% chance of reaching or exceeding that level in any given year.

It is important to note that just because your home is not in a designated floodplain area does not mean flooding will occur. Actually, 20% of the flood damage come from low risk areas every year. This is partly because flooding is so unpredictable and can be the result of various factors, such as: B. Thawing snow, burst pipes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, construction problems and more.

What you should know about buying a home in a floodplain

For almost anyone, finding out that a home you fell in love with is in a high-risk floodplain can be a little heartbreaking. Sure, buying a home in a floodplain comes with additional risks, but it's not a total deal-breaker. However, there are a few things to consider that make the process a little different than buying a home in a low-risk flood zone, including:

Disclosure obligations in the event of floods

There is no federal law in the United States that states that home sellers must disclose information about the ownership of a property Flood risk or previous flood damage to potential homebuyers. However, 29 states have disclosure requirements for floods. This means that depending on the location of the property, it is up to you to research a property's flood risk through a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Flood map service center.

As a general rule of thumb, regardless of state law, a home seller should never hide essential facts about a home from potential buyers. Some states have a special form that sellers use to disclose known issues that could affect the safety or value of the home.

Requirements for flood insurance

Even if your home is not in a high risk flood area, you should consider Flood insurance. For example, if your home flooded just an inch, the damage could cost you more than $ 25,000. Her Mortgage lender You may need to get flood insurance even if your home is in a medium to low risk area. You can take out flood insurance at any time, but please note that this does not take effect until 30 days after your premium has been paid.

Homeowners with property in a flood risk area can get private flood insurance or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program that covers nearly 5 million policyholders nationwide. NFIP is funded and supported by the federal government, which is overseen by FEMA. However, NFIP coverage is not available in all areas. Find out if your Insurance provider participates in NFIP, or simply call your provider to inquire about including flood coverage in your home insurance. Let's look at the differences between the two options:

NFIP Private flood insurance
Maximum conversion costs $ 250,000 Usually up to $ 500,000 or higher
Availability All 50 states Can only provide coverage in higher risk areas
Proof of altitude required Yes sir no
waiting period 30 days 15 days
Lender Accepts Yes sir Yes sir
Building coverage Replacement costs Replacement costs
Content coverage Current monetary value Content coverage
Loss of use coverage no Yes sir
Damage prevention coverage no Yes sir
Removal of dirt Yes sir Yes sir

Home values ​​influenced by floodplain areas

Now you may be wondering if the value of a property can be negatively affected if it is in a high-risk flood zone. The short answer is yes. However, homeowners can make up for this as well protect the house from flooding by implementing some strategies, e.g. These include buying flood insurance, installing a sump pump, investing in flood sensors, and adding barriers around your home.

House near a body of water

What you should know about selling a home in a floodplain

Real estate information and floodplains

Disclosure of real estate or a Disclosure of the seller, is a series of documents answered by the seller of a home listing all known issues with the property and any remodeling projects completed during the homeowner's time. All states have property disclosure laws and documents that contain details about the condition of a property that could adversely affect its value. As noted above, however, the specific laws regarding past flood information and the status of floodplain areas vary from state to state.

Strategies for Selling a Home in a Flooded Area

It's true that some buyers may not be willing to take the risk of living in a floodplain. However, there are a few strategies you can use to make your home more attractive to those on the fence:

  • Adjust the selling price to the floodplain and the local housing market. Work on a pricing strategy with your real estate agent to find a competitive selling price and get buyers through the door.
  • Be sure to state whether your home has never been flooded. Obtain a copy of a free report from the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) showing your insurance claims history for the past seven years. This can help reassure potential buyers and reassure them if they hesitate make an offer.
  • Offer to cover the insurance bill. As an incentive to buy a house, it can also be offered to cover the cost of flood insurance for one year. This can be done by adjusting the purchase price or as a credit at closing.
  • Ask about the community rating system. the Community rating system is an optional incentive program that promotes community-wide flood reduction initiatives. Communities enrolled in the program may be eligible for discounted flood insurance.
  • Order an altitude certificate. A prospective buyer may be asked to provide the survey certificate to both their insurance agency and their lender. The certificate describes the risk that a property would be exposed to if a major flood occurs and the property is above the height of the estimated flood.

Do it yourself to reduce the risk of flooding

There are many ways to reduce the risk of flood damage, and not all are difficult or expensive. To appeal to more buyers, consider these home improvement and renovation jobs:

  • Increase your home. Raise the first floor of your home just a foot above the ground flood and you could get one 30% discount in annual flood insurance premiums, according to FEMA. It is important to note that a project like this on average costs about $ 47,500.
  • Raise the most important devices. Save yourself and future buyers an extra flood insurance surcharge by moving your appliances, water heater, HVAC system and stove to an elevated platform.
  • Reduce the risk of sedentary water by adding vents in the crawl space. Water and moisture can cause costly structural damage to your foundation. If your home is ever flooded, vents in the crawl space will allow water that seeps into the crawl space to back out. Sedentary water can damage your foundation, so getting it right is important Maintain a crawl space to avoid costly repairs in the future. Vents in the crawl space allow water to flow in and out of the enclosure freely, reducing the risk of structural problems in the event of flooding.
  • Add barriers or sandbags around your house. Beams, levees, and flood walls can reduce the risk of flooding entering your home. Inquire about whether your local building codes allow barriers around your home. If permanent barriers are not an option, you can always put sandbags around your house to create a bulkhead for extra protection.
  • Install an automatic shut-off valve and a check valve. An automatic shut-off valve installed near the primary water intake in your home can help reduce the risk of major flood damage to your home. When a battery operated high water sensor is activated, it turns off the main water supply. You can also install a check valve in pipelines to prevent flood water from flowing back into your drains.
  • Be proactive and invest in flood sensors. Flood sensors are placed in multiple locations around your home and will alert you as soon as water is detected where it shouldn't be. It also warns you of other events that can cause water damage, such as a burst pipe or an overflowing sink.
  • Install a battery operated sump pump. A sump pump is designed to remove water that has accumulated in your basement and out of your house into a dry well or rain drain. A sump pump can cost around $ 1,200 to install, but it's a solid investment to minimize flood damage.

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