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The Ultimate Guide to Selling a House in a Flood Zone

By The HomeGo Team On 2020-01-07

If you’ve ever experienced a flood, you’ll never forget the destructive power of surging water.

Flood damage can be a home seller’s worst nightmare. Not only do you experience infrastructure damage, but you’re then left with the mud, grime, and contaminants left in a flood’s path. Floods cause billions of dollars in property damage each year, and the number of those affected is rising over time.

Many home buyers shirk away from buying homes in or near flood zones, even if the home hasn’t experienced damage. Selling a house in a flood zone can be a difficult task, leaving home sellers in a tough position. Even if your home is still high and dry, being near a flood zone is risky enough to turn away buyers.

Read on to learn about your options for selling a house in a flood zone.

Do Flood Zones Change Over Time?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: Flood zones do shift over time. That means even if your home wasn’t at risk when you purchased it, it may become so as flood zones change.

Factors such as environmental changes, levee reclassifications, and new development may affect flood paths. Many homeowners aren’t even aware that they live in or near a flood zone.

They’re then surprised when they learn many buyers won’t even consider homes in their area.

flood zone map

Image source

You can check your home’s risk by using FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center tool.

Your Home has Flooded… Now What?

What should you do if your home has flooded? Be prepared to accept a harsh reality: The resale value of homes in flood zones does decrease.

But how much does flooding devalue a house? While the answer to that question depends on each situation’s circumstances, homeowners often share a common misconception: Many believe that their home’s post-flood value is simply the original value minus repair costs.

But this doesn’t account for a decrease in value for flooded homes (even after they’re repaired). It also ignores the home buyer’s expenses, time, and risk.

In a nutshell, you will receive lower offers than you would have expected pre-flood. Additionally, it may take much longer and require more effort to find a buyer willing to purchase your property post-flood.

Contact Insurance and Minimize Losses

While this may seem like an obvious first step, in the midst of the emotion and chaos of a flood, insurance may not be the first thing on your mind. As soon as you can, contact your insurance company to see what’s covered.

Your coverage depends on the type of policy you purchased and the cause of the flood.

Document all the damage before you start cleaning up. The insurance adjuster will need to see it. Even though the flood has already hit, if you act quickly you may be able to stop things from getting worse.

Take steps to reduce your losses by:

  • Pumping out water to prevent mold
  • Setting any salvageable items out to dry
  • Removing muck and mud
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • Disposing of debris and unsalvageable items, such as mattresses

In most cases, you’ll need to hire professional help.

selling a house in a flood zone

I Want to Sell. What Are My Options?

If you’re ready to move on from a flood zone, you may find it more difficult to sell than sellers in different parts of the country experience.

When you want to sell your flood-zoned or even flood-damaged home, you have options: Sell traditionally or to a cash buyer.

Sell Your Flooded House Traditionally

First, assess the damage. Is the home still livable? If so, you may be able to sell traditionally… but your home will be much harder to sell, and it will sell for less.

Plus, your flooded home is already reduced in value. If you enlist an agent to help you sell, their commission will make your losses even worse.

If the property has mold or structural damage, you probably won’t be able to sell it on the market. You’ll be required to make (expensive) repairs before selling the home.

You’ll also be required to disclose any water damage to potential buyers.

For those selling homes that not experienced damage but are located in a flood zone, you may be surprised to learn that many buyers will not purchase your property simply due to its location, even if it is in mint condition.

Selling a House in a Flood Zone to a Cash Buyer

In most cases, selling to a cash buyer is your best option, both for homes with flood damage and those simply located in high-risk areas.

Because cash buyers purchase homes as-is, you won’t need to make repairs, deal with staging, list the home, or wait for offers. Instead, you can sell quickly and move on with your life.

But not all cash buyers will purchase homes in a flood zone. Many online iBuyers who advertise a quick, hassle-free sale will not consider purchasing a home that’s near a flood zone — even if your home is not technically at risk or damaged!

Be sure to read the fine print on any offer that seems too good to be true.

Fortunately, HomeGo purchases homes in any condition all across the country. We understand that flooding can be devasting and want to offer homeowners a way to move out and move on, on their schedule.

HomeGo never charges commissions or fees, so you do not have to worry about losing even more of your home’s value to selling expenses.

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.