It’s a great feeling when you find a beautiful home, in your price range, in a nice neighborhood! It’s not such a great feeling to find out that the home is in a flood zone. Purchasing a home in a flood zone can be dangerous to your family’s safety. It can also present challenges such as water damage, a flooded basement, and so on. It is important to weigh your options and do your homework before making the decision to buy. Below are a few things to consider before purchasing a home in a flood zone.
- The Type of Flood Zone. The term flood zone is a broad one, and it can mean several different things. FEMA places many homes in flood zones that are in a minimum risk of flooding. If you take a look at the FEMA Map, zone X is an area where the risk of flooding is reduced by a levy or a dam. Even though these structures are in place, they can and do fail. Even in an area with minimal risk of flooding, it is recommended that you purchase flood insurance. The A and V flood zones are at high risk, and will almost certainly require that you purchase flood insurance.
- Low Risk Doesn’t Mean No Risk. FEMA estimates that about a quarter of all flood insurance claims come from homeowners who live in low to moderate flood zone risk areas. Most homeowners insurance does not include flood insurance, so you will likely need separate coverage. It is better to be safe than sorry. Spending a little a month on flood insurance can help you avoid costly home repairs.
- The age of the home. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) compiles maps of areas of the U.S. that help inform city and state regulators who deal with zoning laws and to help inform construction organizations about high-risk areas. Before you make the decision to buy a home, be sure to check when the home was built. If it was built before a current map has been released, you could be paying high insurance premiums on top of putting yourself at a greater risk for flooding.
- Get your elevation certificate. Before you are able to move into a home in a high-risk area, you will likely need to present your mortgage lender and flood insurance provider with proof of an elevation certificate. This certificate assesses the risks that flooding might present in your area, which helps lenders and insurers determine how much you should pay. The elevation certification process assess the risks of the entire property. This information could either let you know if you should pass on buying the home, or if you should go through with it.
Buying a home in a flood zone can be a risky thing to do. But if you keep these important pointers in mind, you can mitigate the risk you are taking in doing so. It is also important to remember that the risk of floods in most areas can change over time. Dams and levees might be built, decreasing flood risk, or other factors that can impact the increase of flood risks.
It is impossible to predict when flooding might occur. It is for this reason that recommends preparing yourself with an emergency survival kit so you and your family can weather the storm.