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What to Know about Buying a Home in a Floodplain

Imagine finding the perfect home at a perfect price point with an excellent view in a neighborhood you love. Then you find out that property is in a floodplain. Should you run? We say no. Though your potential home might be historically more prone to flooding than another area, there’s no reason to throw out home options just because they’re in a floodplain. Below we outline what you should know about buying a home in a floodplain and why choosing to live there might be a great option for you.

Low Risk Doesn’t Mean No Risk

Just because you purchase a property that’s not in a floodplain, or if your property is in a low-risk area, there is no guarantee that you won’t have to deal with flooding and the issues that result. In fact, according to FEMA, about a quarter of all flood insurance claims come from areas with a low or moderate risk of flooding.

If you’ve found a house that you love, and it’s located in a floodplain, don’t let the what-ifs deter you from committing to that property. Just because an area is historically more prone to flooding, there’s no guarantee that your property will flood any sooner than an area 5 miles away that’s technically a low-risk area.

You Will Need Flood Insurance—Even if Your Flood Risk is Low

Having flood insurance is a smart decision for any homeowner. Your homeowner’s insurance will almost never cover water damage caused by a flood. If you’re buying in a floodplain, you are typically required to purchase flood insurance by your lender. If your home is at risk for flooding, your lender realizes that their collateral is at risk for severe damage.

Even if your home is at a very low risk for flooding, you need to be prepared for your lender to make it part of your contract that you have flood insurance. But, as we talked about in the section above, this is for the best. Low-risk areas account for 25 percent of all flood insurance claims, so it’s better to have insurance and hope to never need it than to assume your low-risk floodplain will be safe, only to be met with a disastrous flood.

Your Home Isn’t the Only Thing at Risk for Flood Damage

Remember that your home isn’t your only asset when you choose to purchase in a floodplain. Should flooding occur, your pets, vehicles, livestock, outdoor buildings, ATVs, and other possessions and investments are at risk for serious water damage or destruction. You don’t need to live in a state of fear, but you do need to be aware that if your floodplain property goes underwater, there’s a lot at stake.

Plus, if your home has water damage, you’ll need to pay for repairs, a place to stay while those repairs are being done, and you’ll need to have professionals come out for mold inspection and remediation. If you’re buying a home in a floodplain, you need to be aware of the risks that might come with living there.

You Can Take Steps to Reduce Potential Flood Damage

Just because your potential home is on a floodplain, you aren’t destined to experience severe flood damage. There are several steps you can take to protect your home—to a degree—from water damage:

  • Lift Your Home – This is probably the most effective way to protect your home from flooding. If you’ve found a home that you love, but you’re nervous about its location in a floodplain, hire lifting contractors to elevate your home to a safe height. A trusted home lifter can raise your foundation a few inches or even an entire story above the ground to protect your space from flooding.
  • Strategically Place Appliances – Make sure your furnace, water heater, electrical panels, and other appliances are elevated off your floors, if possible. In case of severe flooding, you can know you’ve taken extra precautions to keep your expensive appliances out of harms way.
  • Seal Your Basement – Seal your basement walls with waterproof drywall. This gives the most vulnerable area of your home extra protection in the event that floodwaters rise.

Living in a Floodplain Can be a Great Choice for You

The final and most important thing to keep in mind when you’re buying a home in a floodplain is that it can be a fantastic decision for you and your family. As we said above, living on a floodplain isn’t a sentence for certain flood damage. Floodplains are often beautiful spaces near natural bodies of water and home to a plethora of wildlife. When you take the proper precautions and prepare your home and yourself for flooding, you’ll find that you can live worry-free in a floodplain, no matter your risk level. The pros definitely outweigh the cons when you’re looking at homes situated in a floodplain.

Conclusion

Remember, every piece of property is at risk for flooding, whether it’s in a floodplain or not. Knowing your risks and how to prepare are the best ways to ready yourself for a flood should the waters ever come up to the threshold of your home.

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