How Have Flood Map Changes Impacted Homeowners?
Flood map changes by the federal government have put the monetary burden on homeowners who live in high risk and
repetitive claim flooding areas. Additionally RI coastal real estate owners who never were flooded before are being told that they are now in a flood plain and will require flood insurance. The 2013 flood maps for North Kingstown and surrounding southern RI towns are now on line at FEMA.gov. It is worth reviewing them, determining the elevation of your property and if need be obtain an elevation certificate on your home from a state licensed surveyor.
Be aware of the steps you must take now to protect your property as well as to sell your home in the future. The FEMA flood maps changed in 2013 along with the phase out of subsidization of insurance rates for the following properties in flood zones: commercial, second homes, multi family homes and properties that have experienced recurring flood damage above the value of the property.
Flood plains are not receding but increasing along our coastline and all property owners in low to high risk flood zones must become proactive early.
If you own your house outright, flood insurance may have never crossed your mind. In fact, you may never have had a policy to cover any losses before. However, if you are thinking of selling your home in the next few years, it is extremely important to know what your insurance costs will be. Although you as a homeowner may choose to not carry this insurance the next buyer will certainly require it. If the buyer of a home in a flood plain requires a mortgage, the lender will mandate flood insurance on the home. You must now determine what that cost is for you as the present owner…is it $2000 a year or $20,000, etc,? You must know this cost. It will ultimately effect the value of your property and what value is placed upon it. [UPDATE: as of October 2013 a flood insurance addendum is now part of the RI home sales contract. So do your due diligence.]
As I have mentioned in other posts on ‘V’ and ‘A’ flood zones, an elevation certificate can authenticate your true height of property from base flood elevation (BFE). In some cases, you will be higher in elevation than what FEMA has mapped. That is why you hire a surveyor to perform this measurement. By taking this elevation certificate forward along with a LOMC (letter of map change) to FEMA you can make your case, if apparent, for a flood zone change. If your elevation is higher than originally mapped, you may find a reduced cost for flood insurance. And that is the ultimate goal.
I work with many coastal real estate owners helping them with advice on this process before a home sale. There are many engineers that can help you determine whether filling in your basement is an option, to raising your home up a few feet to putting in flood vents in your home is the right way to go. It does come down to cost does it not? How much are you willing to spend to reduce your insurance costs?
Flood zones will continue to be part of our lives in RI as well as other states. Know your property well because flood maps are not going away and can make a real difference in home ownership.
If you are considering selling your RI home, please reach out to me, Ginny Lacey Gorman, at 401.529.7849 or email me at RiByTheBay@gmail.com to set up an appointment to discuss your real estate needs. Being ahead of this storm of insurance changes is where you want to be! Be the well educated homeowner that knows how flood map changes impact you. Flood map changes are impacting many RI homeowners.