A New Flood Risk Tool to Listings
Home shoppers looking up listings on realtor.com® will now be able to see each property’s flood risk data as well. Realtor.com® announced Wednesday that it would be adding flood data onto for-sale and off-market properties listed at its site.
The flood risk data tool combines insights from both FEMA flood zone maps and First Street Foundation’s newly released Flood Factor tool to display a flood risk from 1 (minimal risk) to 10 (extreme risk). Users will be able to view past, present, and estimated future risk of properties.
“Historically, determining a property’s flood risk was an onerous process—in some cases, potential buyers would have no idea a property was in a flood zone until it was flagged by the mortgage company before closing, or in some cases not at all,” says Leslie Jordan, senior vice president of product at realtor.com®. “By surfacing this information up front, consumers can avoid surprises and have all the information they need to make informed decisions and feel confident about the home buying process.”
In late June, the nonprofit research firm First Street Foundation unveiled its Flood Factor tool to allow users nationwide to enter an address and run a flood risk calculator. The tool identifies flood zones along all streams and rivers and displays where heavy rainfall flooding occurs, even when it is not connected to a waterway. FEMA maps—those created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and relied upon by floodplain managers and lenders—include only the nation’s largest waterways and rivers where government engineers can get the most precise, on-the-ground measurements. These tend to reflect only the highest population areas around the country.
The realtor.com® tool will provide data from both sources to help buyers make decisions regarding flood risk of properties they’re interested in purchasing.
The need to put flood data into consumers’ hands has been getting increasing attention. Some homeowners may bypass getting flood insurance and then find themselves unprotected financially if their house floods. Some brokerages also are being called into lawsuits that have accused them of not informing buyers fully about the flood risks of properties.
The National Association of REALTORS® recently commissioned the Legal Research Center to investigate flood-related lawsuits over the past two decades and its potential implications for real estate professionals and brokerages. The Legal Research Center reviewed more than 4,500 flood-related cases between 2000 and 2020 and found 61 cases that specifically involved a real estate professional or brokerage. The majority of those cases were brought by buyers against sellers’ agents or brokerages and alleged fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and intentional misrepresentation or omission. Six of these cases resulted in significant verdicts and awards against the real estate licensee and brokerage.
Additional NAR resources to address flood risks with clients can be found at:
- NAR Washington Report
- NAR FAQ on realtor.com®’s Flood Factor tool
- A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Discussing Flood Insurance
- Window to the Law Video: Flood Insurance & Disclosures
Source: REALTOR® Magazine Daily News