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Realtor.com® Helps Homebuyers Understand a Property’s Flood Risk

By: Kim Shindle on in

Realtor.com® has added a feature to for-sale and off-market properties on its site to help consumers better understand flood risk and take necessary precautions. Properties now display a Flood Factor™ from First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group, which is a score between one and 10 that represents its cumulative risk of flooding over a 30-year mortgage. Properties also display their FEMA Flood Zone, providing realtor.com® users with a comprehensive understanding of their flood risk.

This first-of-its-kind data integration on realtor.com® will give home shoppers and homeowners easy access to previously hard-to-find information about flood risk. Users can also drill down for additional details on past, present and future risk, and explore the interactive flood map.

A recent study by First Street Foundation found more Pennsylvania homes are at risk of flooding compared to what the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s data shows.

“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 prior to closing, or in some cases not at all,” said Leslie Jordan, senior vice president of product, realtor.com®. “By surfacing this information upfront, consumers can avoid surprises and have all the information they need to make informed decisions and feel confident about the homebuying process.”

Flood Factor™ supports the National Association of Realtors®’ policy to provide accurate flood mapping with full transparency and disclosure. Because FEMA flood maps cover only the high National Flood Insurance Program population areas along major rivers and some of the coast, many consumers could be buying or selling a home in harm’s way and not know. Flood Factor™ can help provide another credible flood risk tool for consumers while filling in the gaps on FEMA maps. NAR has developed a Frequently Asked Questions Sheet to help members field questions from customers about Flood Factor™ data.

First Street Foundation has developed the industry’s most comprehensive, climate-adjusted flood risk model, assessing flood risk at the individual property level today and in the future throughout the continental U.S. The model incorporates local adaptation, includes areas not currently mapped by FEMA and assesses risk from four types of flooding events, including riverine, rainfall, storm surge and tidal sources. The model addresses the reality that these sources have been, and continue to be, impacted in different ways by a changing environment. The First Street Foundation Flood Model was produced in partnership with more than 80 of the world’s leading hydrologists, researchers and data scientists and has been reviewed by some of the world’s leading research institutions.

FEMA Flood Maps are the official public source for flood hazard information produced in support of the NFIP. A property that is in a Special Flood Hazard Area is identified as having flood, mudflow or flood-related erosion hazards and requires mandatory purchase of flood insurance. In order to make the most informed decisions, home shoppers should consider multiple sources of data and have a discussion with their real estate agent.

“Integrating Flood Factor™ on realtor.com® provides millions of current and future homeowners with a comprehensive, accessible understanding of a property’s flood risk due to a changing environment over the life of a 30-year mortgage,” said Matthew Eby, executive director of First Street Foundation.

Realtor.com®’s new flood data can help reduce flood-related surprises at the closing table. Realtors® can use this valuable information to provide additional context, guidance and insights to the buyers and sellers they work with. Professionals can use both the FEMA and Flood Factor™ data on realtor.com® to help reduce the number of clients who buy high-risk properties by surprise or list properties before mitigating the risk by helping their buyer and seller clients perform due diligence and increase confidence in real estate markets, particularly where FEMA does not currently map.

Flood risk data is now available on realtor.com® web, mobile web, iOS and Android apps. For more information on Flood Factor™ and a free online flood data visualization, visit FloodFactor.com.

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