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Should flood risk be a normal disclosure?

by | Dec 17, 2020 | Real Estate Law

Flooding costs homeowners an extensive amount of money every year. Many of these homes are not in federally recognized flood areas, which means they often take the homeowners by surprise. 

If you are shopping for a home,  you may wonder why real estate sites do not provide more information about flood risks for a home. There is only one site that provides this information. There is also public information about flood zones, but having it right there with the sales data could help you to avoid buying a home that could later be subjected to flooding. 

Public data available

According to NPR, the federal government does publish information about flood zones. If you buy a home in a flood zone, you will know because you will have to purchase flood insurance, which is not a part of your typical homeowner’s insurance policy. 

However, if the area is not a designated flood zone, there is very little information available in a database about flood risks. You can do a background search for news articles that cover floods in the past, but that is time-consuming.  Real estate laws also do not help since they often do not require disclosure about flooding. 

Some private companies are now putting together flood information to help people like you. However, because there is no public database that lists specifics on each home’s flood history, that information is hard to come by. All you will know is information about a general area. 

The issue with information

One of the reasons why real estate databases are not quick to offer flood information is because of pushback from sellers. A history of flooding reduces home values. It can also make it more difficult to sell a home.