I might buy a house in a flood zone. What can I do to ensure it is low risk? FEMA is hard to reach-who else can I contact? Is this a bad investment??

Asked by Onthefence, Westwood, NJ Mon Jun 6, 2011

The sellers claim they have never had water but they have only been there for a few years. I want confirmation from the town, reports on the property or a history of the property and flooding - anything that will put our minds at ease before submitting an offer. I don't know who to contact - please help!

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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Mon Jun 6, 2011
You can ask the sellers to see a C.L.U.E. report, it provides any claim information; also chat with neighbors/locals, etc.
1 vote
Clverost, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Mon Aug 29, 2016
As the seller of a home in a flood zone, let me add the following:

1) I went to http://www.myhomeclue.com/faq.html which took me to Floodsmart.gov entered my home address. It said we were a high risk area (which we are not) and underrated the cost of flood insurance.

2) I went to the FEMA site which gave a much more accurate picture of our risk for flood (< 1% per year).
0 votes
mohameena2006, Home Buyer, Villa Park, IL
Sat Jul 6, 2013
city want to raise home up to 6 feet i dont have money to built home.
0 votes
mohameena2006, Home Buyer, Villa Park, IL
Sat Jul 6, 2013
if i buy a home in flood zone can fema heip me to built home
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Fri Jun 10, 2011
The hesitancy you are feeling about a property in a flood zone will be a factor when you go to sell yourself. Expect a similar reaction from future buyers.

On to managing risk. you've gotten good suggestions so far, a good inspector will also be able to advise you on clues to past problems. You can't control the weather, but you can add safeguards to protect the house -sump pumps with back up power sources is one idea.

Goodl luck to you,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
Attilio Adamo…, , Old Tappan, NJ
Wed Jun 8, 2011
I am not aware of any flood zones in Old Tappan. However we do have wet lands and high water tables. Ask your Realtor to perform a search on the mls. Real List on our system can hellp answer yor question.

Good Luck.
0 votes
Gina Chirico, Agent, Fairfield, NJ
Mon Jun 6, 2011
On the Fence,

I understand your concern. I live in a town where certain areas flood and it can be frustrating and costly to the homeowners. In addition to all the information you received below, you can go to the town and they should be able to tell you. You can probably even call with the street address but going in person guarantees the town looks it up in front of you. I know many buyers have contacted the township here to determine flood issues.

Has your agent offered to do a flood search? Assuming you are working with one, they should be able to point you in the right direction, like FEMA and/or CLUE and other local guidance. Does the basement or property show any indication of water damage? Water marks on the walls? Anything in the basement on pallets? on blocks? I've even seen furniture nailed to the walls?

Hope that helps and good luck,

Gina Chirico, Sales Associate
Lattimer Realty
973-715-1158 cell
973-575-6353 ext 17 office
0 votes
Barbara Ostr…, Agent, Closter, NJ
Mon Jun 6, 2011
You need to speak with a decent real estate attorney about this. In addition, before you go into contract, have your realtor run a Flood Report on REALIST (attached to every listing in the NJMLS), which they can easily do. Finally, balance your desire for this house against the cost of added flood insurance by speaking to a home insurance source or asking the sellers to disclose in writing what they pay for flood insurance every year, including deductible.

I have young buyers who bought (against the advice of their parents and myself) a lovely split level in Little Falls, and have now regretted that decision after the flooding in the past couple of years. Don't trust the sellers' claims, do your due diligence. Do people live in flood plains? Of course. But you need to ask yourself if it's worth it for your and your family (and never store any memorabilia at the lower level!!!).
0 votes
Peter J Roge…, Agent, Mahwah, NJ
Mon Jun 6, 2011
if you are working with an agent and the house is in Bergen, Passaic or Morris counties the agent should be able to establish that fact.
FEMA classifies flood risk in several catagories based on the liklihood of flooding occuring from minimal risk to "make sure you have a canoe in the garage"
A lot of towns have the flood map in the construction Dept so you may be able to look there.
Couple of simple "smell" tests
Do the houses on the street have basements or are they
all "raised ranches" with only a garage on the ground level
if the house you are buying has a basement do the furnace and water heater have "legs" ( i.e. raised above the floor) then thats usually a sign that it gets water.
walk down the street and knock on a couple of doors and ask the neighbors (but be a little subtle) you would be surprised how much info you get that way.
But the final arbiter is going to be the bank as they will make you pay for the flood insurance should they decide the house is in the flood zone.
Some people are willing to take the risk but bear in mind if you do buy its going to detract from the value of the house. you are probably looking at this house thinking "boy thats pretty cheap compared to others we have seen" well if it is then thats a red flag. It will make it more difficult for you to sell down the road.
Regards and good luck
0 votes
Dp2, , Virginia
Mon Jun 6, 2011
Besides ordering a CLUE report (which tracks insurance claims), most county governments have access to FEMA flood zone maps and other data. You might also want to check with your county planning and zoning dept to obtain a list of any permits filed. Yet, if the seller didn't file any insurance claims, or use any licensed contractors to do the work, then it's possible that work might have been performed for which there is very little or no recorded data. Nevertheless, Anna's recommendation to also reach out to the neighbors is a good one (that many investors [myself included] use).
0 votes
Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Mon Jun 6, 2011
I would suggest the FEMA website, where you can plug in an address for flood info...


Also talk to a local flood insurance provider and neighbors.
0 votes
Annette Levi…, , New York, NY
Mon Jun 6, 2011
I always get that information from a local appraiser. They can read the flood maps to tell you if it is in a 100 year flood zone (which means don't expect it to flood).
I would also go on line for the local paper (Bergen Record?) and look up floods. Any flood that occured would be reported on. Also the would give estimate of overall damage of the area.
Last when have the house inspection-go with the inspector. If there was flooding in the house, expect to see signs in the basement that the inspector can point out.
0 votes
Cynthia Bell, Agent, Cedar Park, TX
Mon Jun 6, 2011
You can request a CLUE report. Here is a link I found online. You can also ask your insurance agent if he/she can pull a CLUE report, just be clear on what information you are asking for and to make sure it is included.
0 votes
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