Floodplains matter and if your home is in one you are at risk of extra costs and headaches. Insurance rates will be higher or may be unavailable – and your home being in a floodplain could also derail a home sale or purchase. After all, if you were looking to purchase a home in a floodprone area – wouldn’t you want to know?
Fining out if your home is in a floodplain isn’t that easy – even with the internet. The availability and ease of use varies from county to county – some have better tools than other. If your county does not have their own tools you can always go to the FEMA site and look at the actual FEMA map.
Anyways, we are in Fairfax County so lets say I was looking to purchase a home in the Pimmit Hills subdivision in Falls Church near Tysons Corner.
Lt’s say the home I was looking to purchase happened to be on Pimmit Court. Pimmit Court is a cul-de sac that backs up towards the Pimmit Run stream (much of which is underground past Leesburg Pike.) Some of the lots on that street are pretty low lying and it would seem reasonable to think that there could be an issue. How would I know though?
I would probably first use the aforementioned FEMA map then I would go to the Fairfax County website and use their tool at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/gis/DMV/Default.aspx (it is in COLOR – yipeee!)
At the Fairfax COunty lookup tool I would enter the address and then select the FEMA-SFHA from the Available Map Types. I would thne get a map similar to this:
Uhm, hmmm. As per the map above many of the properties and even some of the structures are certainly in the floodplain in that area.
If I was purchasing a home and any part of the property was covered in green above I would probably:
a) Give my lender a call and explain my concern
b) Give my insurance company a call and explain my concern
c) See if flood insurance was available and at what cost
Being in a flood-zone may not mean the end of a transaction – often homes in flood zones have gorgeous lots backing up to normally quiet streams or rivers. You just have to weigh the otherwise potential premium lot against the likely extra cost of flood insurance – if it is available.
There are ways you can try to change if a lot is in a floodplain. You can get an individual determination for a lot or you can even try to raise the grade for parts of the property (if permitted.)
Apart from being in a floodplain, there are other related issues too. Your home could be in a dam inundation zone or in a RPA – both could have significant impact on your insurance rate, use of the property and also on the value of your home. See the earlier article on Resource Protect Areas (RPA) (also, EPA seems to be getting involved more and more with permits for homes near streams and water in general.)
Lots of things to keep track of – so if you are looking to buy or sell I would recommend you have a real estate professional like Soldsense on your side to help figure these things out!