What You Need to Know Before Buying a House in a Flood Zone

You may not have thought about flooding in your area, especially if you do not live near a large body of water, such as the ocean, you may not know that you live in a flood zone. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notes there are 18 flood zones in the United States, and the chances that you either live in a flood zone or you are buying a house in a flood zone are about one in 15. If you are considering buying a house in a flood zone, here are some tips you need to know.

What is a Flood Zone?

A flood zone is an area on a map that has been identified as being prone to the risk of flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses a variety of data, such as weather patterns, soil types, and topography to identify these areas.

Depending on the potential risk of flooding, a particular area may be classified as having a low risk or high risk. Being aware of where you live in relationship to any specific flood zones can help ensure that proper precautions are taken to protect yourself and your property during a time of severe weather.

The Pros and Cons of Living in a Flood Zone

Many homeowners who are buying a house in a flood zone are buying there because buying land

in a flood zone means they are buying beautiful land. Often, flood zones are located near lakes, rivers, or the ocean–which makes it a beautiful property acquisition. Additionally, if you are looking for a property at a discount, there’s a better-than-average chance you will be able to negotiate a lower home price before you sign the sale contract. For example, homeowners who are buying a property that overlooks a river may be able to get a lower sales price for the home because the insurance on the house will be higher than average.

The largest con you need to know about if you are buying a house in a flood zone is that your home could experience flooding. In fact, even if you only experience one inch of flood water in your home, restoration charges may cost you over $25,000–enough to put a giant hole in any homeowner’s budget. The insurance rates will also be higher for a home in a flood zone than for homes not in a flood zone. Many jurisdictions will require you to carry flood insurance, which is an additional expense.

Should I Buy a House in a Flood Zone?

Before you make a decision on whether or not to buy a house, you first need to figure out what type of flood zone you live in. FEMA has a detailed map tool that you can look at to determine your flood zone. There are three areas of risk homeowners need to worry about: high-risk zones, moderate-risk zones, and minimal-risk zones.

1) Minimal Risk Zones

If you are thinking of buying a house in a flood zone, a minimal-risk zone is the flood zone you want to be in. Houses in this zone are in Zone C or Zone X. Homes in Zone C or X have less than a .20

Buying a house in a flood zone

percent risk of flooding. This means houses in a minimal-risk zone will flood once in every 500 years or longer. You can choose to buy flood insurance in Zone C or X, and it will be fairly inexpensive as well. Your state will not mandate flood insurance for you to buy the property.

2)   Moderate Risk Zones

You could also opt to buy a house in a moderate-flood zone, which means your house is coded Zone B or X. Homes coded as B or X show that your home has a .20 percent chance of flooding each year, which means that over a thirty-year mortgage, the chances of your home flooding are low, but you still carry a risk. In a moderate flood zone, you are not required to carry flood insurance, but you have the option to buy flood insurance if you choose.

Usually, Zone B or X homes are located behind protective barriers. You may live in a flood plain, but your home may be behind a levee or another flood barrier. This should lower your risk of flooding, but it does not eliminate it altogether.

3)   High Risk Zones

If you love living near a body of water, you may find your future home is coded by FEMA as Zone A or V. If your home is coded V, you are looking to buy a home near a coastal area. Any home that has a FEMA code beginning with A or V means you are in a high risk zone. If you are buying an existing home, or if you plan to build a home within the maximum or high-risk zone, there are special restrictions.

For example, if you are going to build a home on the coast, you may have to build a home on stilts, your foundation may have to have openings, or you may have to have breakaway walls. These are just some examples of home protection.

You also must carry FEMA flood insurance to protect your home, as the area you are going to live in has a 1% chance or greater of flooding each year.

Can you build a basement in a flood zone?

In order for construction to be done it has to pass through BFE, The Base Flood Elevation represents the elevation at which one percent or more annual floods typically occur, and it’s used as part of hazard mapping to assess flood risks before building new structures near rivers/streams that frequently experience flooding events.

Knowing Your Property

If you own a home, or you’re thinking of buying a home in a high risk area (FEMA classifies these areas as Special Flood Hazard Areas, or SFHA) there are some precautions you may want to take.

First, you need to know exactly what zone you live in. After you go and check your flood zone, you can begin to make some plans for your purchase. Even if you live in a moderate or minimal flood zone, you have details to consider. FEMA estimates that during the years 2014-2018, nearly 40% of all flood claims were made for homes who were not in a high-risk flood area, which means you may want to consider flood insurance even if it isn’t mandatory.

Your next step is to obtain a mortgage on the home you want to buy. If your home is in a high risk flood zone, you’ll need to let your lender know. They may require you to buy additional mortgage insurance that will pay off your home in case you default on your mortgage.

You will also want to ask the current homeowners some questions. First, you’ll want to know how often the property floods, or if it has ever flooded as long as they have owned the home. If they aren’t sure, you can check the internet or periodical archives. Then, you’ll want to ask both the homeowner or government officials if any flood mitigation strategies have been done to reduce the risk your new home will flood.

Buying Land in a Flood Zone

Buying land in a flood zone can be a risky endeavor. It is important to do plenty of research prior to purchasing land near overflowing water, as this could lead to significant financial losses if the area floods frequently. When viewing potential properties, look for signs that could indicate flooding issues such as dead vegetation, silt and mud deposits, or standing water and muddy bank slopes.

Flood insurance premiums should also be taken into account when budgeting for your purchase – some companies won’t even insure these areas due to the high risk of flooding damage. All in all, it pays to be mindful about buying land in a flood zone – do your homework beforehand and you’ll minimize the chances of making an investment you’ll regret later.

Risks of Living in a Flood Zone

You may have always dreamed of owning a home by the shore, the river, a lake, or even a creek or a stream. If you find your perfect home and it is in a flood plain, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your home hopes. Getting the information about the possibilities of flooding and what you can do to prevent flooding in your area is a great place to start and creating a good disaster recovery plan.

Also, it doesn’t hurt to know the names of companies who can help you clean up and restore your home after a flood happens. If you are looking for a company for your building restoration needs, why not contact Jenkins Restorations today?

Have You Recently Dealt With Flooding In Your Home?

After a flood, make sure to call Jenkins Restorations to get your home – and your life – back to normal again.