Selling a home in a flood-prone neighborhood is a challenge for novice and experienced REALTORS® alike. Even regions considered low risk for weather-related floods can experience ruptured water lines, clogged storm drains and more. The added threat of severe storms and designated flood zones make the highly complicated process of selling a home even more challenging.
Understand Business Inside Designated Flood Zones
FEMA currently maintains numerous flood designations that span all corners of the United States. The various labels are used to indicate the severity of any potential flooding within specific regions across the country. Inland areas are prefixed with the letter A, and coastal communities are labeled with a V.
A comprehensive database of flood maps, information and statistics is available at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, which exists as a free resource. You can recommend the searchable site to your clients, so they can enjoy a greater peace of mind.
Upgrade Hardware Inside and Outside of the Home
You can perform many different hardware upgrades, both on the interior and exterior of the home, which can increase its flood defenses. You may have to point out some of the additions and explain their usefulness to some buyers, but it could mean the difference between closing on a sale and finding another interested party.
Outdoor equipment such as external air conditioning units and propane fuel tanks should be properly anchored to the ground and elevated beyond the ordinary flood level. Doing so can spare homeowners from costly repairs in the wake of a disaster, as well as ensure the continuity of AC and fuel sources when trying to ride out such conditions.
The inside of your home can be safeguarded by installing backflow valves, or gate valves, on any internal plumbing to prevent the backup of sewage or storm water. Backup can occur in the absence of regional flooding, too. Pointing out the features to any prospective buyers is a great way to show preparedness on your behalf.
Related: Sink or Swim: Are Amphibious Homes the Future of Waterfront Real Estate?
Repair, Restore or Upgrade Landscaping
Landscaping can have a significant effect on the aesthetic appeal of any residential property. It’s typically the first feature someone notices about a home, so it's important to give the outside lawn some attention. This is especially true when cleaning up a neighborhood or restoring a home after a recent flood.
Major landscaping projects, such as modifying the existing slope of a yard to supplement flood protection, may require the use of specialty equipment or machinery. Mini excavators are adept at moving earth in a small space, which makes them ideal for small yards and tightly packed city blocks. These vehicles can also be used for digging trenches or holes, repairing sewer lines and even demolition of damaged, outdated or unnecessary structures.
In-ground sprinkler systems should be inspected and flushed to rid the lines of any contaminants or foreign objects, while flooded or damaged irrigation timers will require complete replacement. Any internal rotors, gears or related components should also be examined and cleaned before restoring irrigation service to the property.
Offset the Costs of Flood Insurance
Homeowner's insurance doesn't typically cover flood protection, and any prospective buyers will probably be well aware of the caveat. In fact, homeowners who live in high-risk zones must maintain separate flood insurance to comply with their federal mortgage requirements.
Residents in low- and moderate-risk areas are not federally required to keep an active flood insurance policy, but in a federal or insured mortgage, the added protection has the potential to pay for itself after the first occurrence.
When trying to sell a home or property that requires additional insurance, REALTORS® are faced with yet another obstacle. To overcome the added challenge, REALTORS® sometimes offer incentives meant to offset some of the costs associated with flood insurance. Reduced or discounted prices on a short- or long-term basis can help close a deal.
Initiatives like the National Flood Insurance Program support flood victims as well people living in at-risk areas. Drawing attention to similar local and regional initiatives, REALTORS® can make the idea of living in a designated flood zone more attractive to prospective buyers.
Provide Peace of Mind as a REALTOR®
As a REALTOR® working with residential homes and properties in flood-prone regions, part of your job includes making your new and prospective clients feel at ease with the buying process. You also aim to help your clients feel at home within the community. It can be an overwhelming task, especially in areas at frequent risk of flooding, but REALTORS® who offer that additional peace of mind are more likely to enjoy success.
The best REALTORS® can take something potentially negative, such as a home in a flood-prone area, and spin it to focus on what’s positive. In an area prone to flooding, homebuyers can enjoy lower prices and the peace of mind that comes with the right insurance policy and safety updates to the home.
In my personal sales experience, FEMA/National Flood Insurance Program allowed the buyer to takeover the flood insurance payment of the present owner. I was told this is usual and customary by another colleague who had thge same situation happen to their listing. Saved the new buyers for my listing over $5000 per year!