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Has this home been flooded? Ask before you buy

Climate Central
Virginia law does not require sellers to tell buyers if a house or business has flooded.

When it comes to flood risk, the best predictor is history.

“A house that has flooded in the past is likely to flood again,” says Joel Scata, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. That group rated states for protecting consumers by requiring that homeowners disclose past flooding to prospective buyers. He says twenty-two states do so.

“Two of the best are Texas and Louisiana," Scata says. "They require disclosure of past flood damages as well as how often those damages have occurred, and Louisiana requires the cost of those flood damages be disclosed.”

But the organization gave Virginia a grade of F with no requirement in place.

“When Virginia tried to improve their disclosure laws in 2019 they had a lot of pushback from the realtor associations, stating that it wasn’t going to be helpful or beneficial, and buyers could get access to information other ways, but those other ways often are not sufficient," Scata explains.

He adds that FEMA maps of flood plains are sometimes out of date, and up to 30% of all national flood insurance claims occur outside designated flood plains. Scata warns that if homeowners have ever received federal aid to recover from flooding, they and all future owners must carry flood insurance if they want to apply for future assistance.

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief