Thousands of homes were flooded across the UK at the very end of 2015, with some areas experiencing the worst in twenty or more years. For a lot of people the floods came as a surprise, although for some homeowners they always knew that there was a risk their property, or at least part of it, would end up underwater.
The floods have made many people consider this element when looking for a new home. If you’re thinking about buying a home on a flood plain or are ready to sell yours, there is a lot of information you need to be aware of.
Buying on a Flood Plain
It may seem crazy to some, but there are a few reasons people still buy homes on flood plains. It can range from not wanting to leave their hometown area to taking the risk on a fabulous house they believe is a bargain due to being on a flood plain.
Damage to your property is the main risk of buying on a flood plain. Even with insurance and putting in place sandbags and other preventative measures, if it does flood your possessions will still get ruined along with damage to any gardens, doors and other aspects. This can be a big effort to clean up and for areas not covered by insurance add to the costs. Not being able to get insurance or seeing the price rocket is another risk, so it is best to check this out before making an offer for the property as it could change your mind.
There are a range of measures you can put in place to reduce the risk of damage if your area and home is hit by flooding. These include:
- Avoid fitted carpets downstairs where possible. Instead opt for a tiled kitchen and wooden floors in living and dining rooms.
- Install power sockets higher up on the walls along with a wall-mounted television, so if it only floods a little they will be safe.
- Store all valuable items upstairs or at least ensure they can be easily moved if heavy rain starts to fall.
- Buy flood guards that can be quickly fitted over front and patio doors and keep them nearby as well as those which can be put over ventilation bricks.
- Fit non-return valves to drains so water only flows one way that will help in a flash flood.
Use a flood risk map to see the level of risk as this can change the insurance price. There are also bits of government help available in some high risk areas to make the insurance affordable so certain homes don’t just get abandoned.
It is possible when looking for a home insurance quote the insurers request an Insurance Related Request Letter which details how likely the property is to flood, local flood defences and any due to be created. This helps them decide whether to offer insurance or not. Without insurance you run a highly expensive risk as repairs can reach the hundreds of thousands.
Selling on a Flood Plain
Selling your home on a flood plain can sound a daunting prospect but you obviously bought the property aware of the risks and thousands of people still live in low, medium and high risk areas for all manner of reasons. It may be more of a challenge but there are a few things that can make the process easier.
Keep an accurate record of all the times your home is flooded and find the stats for previous owners. If official records can be found then presenting these may show that the risk is actually very low, depending on the area. In some cases your property may not have flooded but just be in a high risk area. Here it is advisable to challenge the flood zone designation, although this will take a few weeks or months so should be done well in advance before putting it on the market.
You have an obligation to inform potential buyers that your home is on a flood plain, which involves making them aware of higher insurance costs. Be clear about your current costs and what is involved. Where you have installed flood prevention or reduction features make them aware of these as that is one cost they won’t need to pay for.
Point out the benefits of your home that is for sale, even though it is on a flood plain. These could include:
- Being in a peaceful, friendly neighbourhood with good schools and amenities nearby.
- The house having a lower price due to the flood risk.
- The low chance of it being flooded anyway.
- Any other features specific to the property.
Buying and selling a home on a flood plain is possible and can be made that much easier by following these pieces of advice.