Welcome to the second part of our two-parter blog on real estate and flood insurance in Alabama. We've covered the things you need to know as a realtor when it comes to buying a house or a property for a potential buyer. You can read our blog about it by clicking here.

Alabama Real Estate: Selling Properties in a Flood Zone

In today's blog, we want to talk about the other side of the coin and note some important things to keep in mind when selling a house.

Regardless of whether you're the homeowner or just a real estate agent, you should be aware of these things when it comes to flood insurance, flood zones, and what impacts they have on properties in Alabama.

List of Flood Claims

We've already mentioned in our previous blog that it's important to have a basic, if not in-depth, awareness of the history of flood insurance claims made on a property. This way, as a buyer, you get to find proper expectations when it comes to your flood insurance policy and its respective premium.

On the other hand, if you're the one selling the property, this goes the same. It's common courtesy for your potential buyers to be given an idea of where the current flood insurance stands especially when it comes to claims. This also gives a substantial idea of the flooding history as well. For some states, information like this is federally required to be disclosed to a buyer before closing a deal.

This can be done by requesting a list of the claims made through your insurance carrier. Retrieving claims history is a very easy process for both federal and private flood insurance. This list of claims can be requested or ordered from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On the other hand, private insurance companies will have to be contacted by you or your real estate agent to get this list firsthand. It's important to note that the flood claims history on a property may not be readily available when you order it from private flood insurance, so it's important to keep tabs on your claims history.

Alabama Real Estate: Selling Properties in a Flood Zone

Policy Assumption

One of the key things to know when it comes to the seller-side is mostly on the policy itself. You see, you don't really have to cancel your policy once you have sold the house, it can remain and be passed on to the new owner. This option of transferring the currently active policy to the new owner (buyer) is called policy assumption.

A policy assumption or policy transfer can help you keep the current flood premium and lower-risk flood zone which in turn will also help you avoid those expensive premiums within that period. You also won't have to pay for the flood insurance premium that the policy also has – this can be discussed between you and the seller.

This way, you can make sure that you have proper protection for the new house you're buying without emptying your wallet or bank account. The policy contract will be transferred to you and you'll be the new policyholder in the eyes of FEMA once the reinsurance or renewal day kicks in.

Policy assumption or transfer in your flood insurance can really help you out if you're mapped into high-risk zones in FEMA's flood map or the flood insurance rate map (FIRM). Now, when it comes to properties or houses in that high-risk flood zones, you have to keep in mind that your mortgage lender will be very keen on requiring you to carry a policy for that property.

This mandatory flood insurance purchase can cause a hefty price since we're talking about a lot of flood insurance requirements to be secured before you can get a flood policy for the property.

So other than the higher risk of flooding, you also face a higher risk of emptying your wallet because your mortgage company really needs you to carry flood insurance for your property.

Impacts of Recent Flooding

One of the things you always have to consider when selling a house is recent natural disasters. The most common one is flooding and considering that we're already emphasizing the importance of flood claims which is a direct indication that the house has a chance of flooding.

Recent flooding, most especially, will be a key factor in selling your house and we believe the biggest concern is how much protection does your house has against flood damage and flood loss. It's important to always keep your flood mitigation measures in check in order to have a better chance of selling your home.

Alabama Real Estate: Selling Properties in a Flood Zone

Equally, FEMA is also very heavy on flood frequency when it comes to flood insurance rates. The new Risk Rating 2.0, launched on April 1st and October 1st of last year, changed the rating structure for the federal flood insurance.

One of the flood risk variables being considered by FEMA and the NFIP when rating your property's flood insurance policy is both how often the insured building gets flooded and what type of flooding it experiences. This can take a very hard hit for your selling strategy as most buyers would shy away from flood-prone houses.

As a realtor, it's important that you are aware of this as well, if not an expert when it comes to it. A lot of potential buyers get frustrated when they get surprised about this requirement, so as a realtor it's best you let them know ahead of time.

When it comes to selling properties, you really want to help your buyer consider what the flood risk is and the chance of flooding. Some states like Texas actually require realtors and sellers to fully disclose the flood history and claims on a property, but regardless it wouldn't really hurt being transparent about these things. After all, we're talking about the safety of someone moving into a residential property.

If you've got any questions on a flood policy, the flood zone status of the property you're looking to buy, how the floodplain impacts flood zones, or anything related to floods, click below to go to our Flood Learning Center where we try to answer these questions.

Flood Insurance Guru | Service | Knowledge Base

You can also call us if you need a second opinion from a flood insurance agent when it comes to your purchase of a property by clicking below.

a person wearing a hat

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand your flood risks, flood insurance, real estate selling and buying, and mitigating your property's value long-term.

Business is booming as some would say to the real estate market in Alabama. Despite being in a pandemic, somehow real estate was able to keep up with the times. 2021 was one of these proofs as Alabama had an increase of 3.9% year-over-year (Y/Y) in real estate sales during the month of August.

Alabama Real Estate: Buying Properties in a Flood Zone

It's no secret that some of these listings sit on a high-risk flood zone, so today, we want to talk about things every realtor needs to know when it comes to buying and selling a property that's in a flood zone.

This is part one of a two-parter blog and for this article, we want to focus on the buyer's side of real estate.

Loan Types & Flood Insurance Options

When it comes to closing a house, most buyers don't really have the luxury to pay it all in cash. This is why loans exist to help ease up the expenses in maintaining a roof above your head. If you're reading this blog, you're most likely to be familiar with mortgages and how it works.

What you might not know is that mortgages and loan types can actually impact your flood insurance too.

You see, depending on the type of loan you have for your property, you'll get different options when it comes to flood insurance. We have different types of loans and we actually covered this topic on our podcast blog, but to further understand the situation especially after the Risk Rating 2.0 update with federal flood insurance let's give an example.

Alabama Real Estate: Buying Properties in a Flood Zone

If you have the Federal Housing Administration or FHA loan, you won't be able to get flood insurance through any private insurance carrier because your bank won't accept it. This only means that your only flood insurance source will be from the federal side which is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

There was a time that if you have a loan that's under the government such as an FHA loan, Veteran Affairs (VA) loan, or United States Urban Development Administration (USDA) loan, the only option you have is through the NFIP when it comes to flood insurance.

This meant those people with conventional loans are the only ones who can get flood insurance through private companies before. This was changed way back and only homeowners with an FHA loan are required to get flood insurance through FEMA and the NFIP.

So this is important to keep in mind. Consider first what loan type you have in order to get a proper expectation on where you can get flood insurance from.

Flood Insurance Claims

Another thing you want to consider when buying a property is its history of flooding and flood claims history. This way you get to have an immediate idea of the flood risks or flood hazards that the house might face.

It's also important to note that when it comes to flood insurance, you might not get a policy from the private insurance companies once they detect that the previous owner or the property is prone to flooding.

It's important to keep in mind that flood claims aren't like medical insurance claims where it goes wherever you go. What we mean by this is that when you file a flood claim on the property, regardless of who the owner is, the claims will stay with the property basically for its entire life.

Alabama Real Estate: Buying Properties in a Flood Zone

When it comes to the federal side, however, there won't be a refusal to provide flood insurance to properties like this however with the Risk Rating 2.0, having multiple claims on a property is sure to impact the overall costs of your flood insurance premiums with that house. This is what's called the claim variable.

For this one, it's crucial to always know the flood and claims history of the property. This way you protect yourself from unwanted non-renewals as per the carrier's discretion or expensive flood insurance rates.

Flood Insurance Premiums

One of the biggest questions asked by a potential buyer of a house concerns flood insurance rates. This opens the door for asking, "will my premiums skyrocket after I buy the property?"

Alabama Real Estate: Buying Properties in a Flood Zone

The thing about flood insurance premiums is that the rate is generally guaranteed only for 12 months. This means that after that, you may see some changes like a minor increase or decrease. This is considering that you weren't flooded. On the other hand, if the property was recently subjected to flood damage and there was a claim filed for it, the flood insurance premium can increase substantially.

Verifying the Flood Zone

One of the most important things a buyer or realtor should know about a property when it comes to flood insurance is its flood zone. Despite being removed from the rating consideration in FEMA and the NFIP, the private flood insurance market still look at this factor when it comes to rates. This means that flood zones directly impact your rates and risk of flooding.

Additionally, regardless of it being removed from the rating system, flood zones still have absolute control on whether or not the property is required to have a flood insurance policy with that property. Keep in mind that if you fall in flood zone A or AE, also known as high-risk flood zones or special flood hazard areas (SFHA), you're going to be required to carry flood insurance.

There are many cases where an incorrect flood zone is put in a policy — maybe because there was a recent flood insurance rate map or flood map update that wasn't known by the seller or confusion between different flood zones.

As a realtor, it's important that you are aware of this as well, if not an expert when it comes to it. A lot of potential buyers get frustrated when they get surprised about this requirement, so as a realtor it's best you let them know ahead of time.

When it comes to selling properties, you really want to help your buyer consider what the flood risk is and the chance of flooding. Some states like Texas actually require realtors and sellers to fully disclose the flood history and claims on a property, but regardless it wouldn't really hurt being transparent about these things. After all, we're talking about the safety of someone moving into a residential property.

If you've got any questions on a flood policy, the flood zone status of the property you're looking to buy, how the floodplain impacts flood zones, or anything related to floods, click below to go to our Flood Learning Center where we try to answer these questions.

Flood Insurance Guru | Service | Knowledge Base

You can also call us if you need a second opinion from a flood insurance agent when it comes to your purchase of a property by clicking below.

The Flood Insurance Guru | 2054514294

Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand your flood risks, flood insurance, real estate selling and buying, and mitigating your property's value long-term.

We're less than a month away from the first phase of the flood insurance changes coming to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through the new Risk Rating 2.0 program.

Will the NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 Kill the Real Estate Market?

October 1st marks the first massive change coming to federal flood insurance for homeowners across the United States in thirty years, and this also means that a lot of people will be affected outside of the flood industry.

Will the NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 program kill the real estate industry?

Understanding NFIP 2.0

The new program from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is sure to change the flow in the flood insurance industry overall as this will have a lot of changes that focus on individual flood risks. We've talked about this in our NFIP 2.0 Series per State and Counties, but we'd like to review it to further contextualize its impact on real estate.

Will the NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 Kill the Real Estate Market?

The biggest change coming to federal flood insurance is the scoring that comes into the flood risks per property. Simply put this "flood risk score" will take into multiple variables that accurately represent the flood risk of a property — regardless of it being residential or commercial property. This score will be based on some features that are staying and new features.

The remaining features are as follows:

The new things that will come with the Risk Rating 2.0 are as follows:

  • Types of flooding that your property experience. This can be either pluvial or the accumulated water due to rain, runoff; fluvial or river floods; or coastal which are due to storm surge or coastal erosion. Sometimes even a combination of these three.
  • First-floor height and elevation of the structure. A new feature that determines your flood risk score is the distance between the ground (grade) from your first floor or the first habitable floor of your property.
  • Flood Risk Mitigation Measures made on the property. Is the lowest floor above the base flood elevation? Are there enough flood openings to let floodwaters through?

So how will this impact the real estate industry and will Risk Rating 2.0 be able to completely kill off sales for real estate agents?

The Real Estate Impacts

As you would notice, we immediately mentioned that flood insurance will no longer be rated based on the flood zone. Simply put, this will only determine whether or not a property will be required to process a mandatory flood insurance purchase based on its flood zone.

For everyone's information, if you're in a high-risk area like flood zone A, flood zone AE, or flood zone V, your mortgage will be sure to require you to get flood insurance.

This is due to the regulation set by FEMA and the NFIP for every property. Mortgage-wise this is to best protect their assets which is the structure of the building itself and ensure that reselling it will be a smooth breeze.

Flood Zone for All

At the current program, flood zones directly impact your flood insurance premiums as well. People who are in the high-risk flood zones get significantly higher rates than low-risk zones (like Flood Zone X). This also means that if you're paying for $1000 flood insurance, that's an additional $30,000 on a 30-year mortgage.

Most of the time, you can hear from agents or mortgage lenders that you're not in a flood zone when you're just in a low-risk flood zone. They really don't mention this until an escrow because low-risk zones aren't required to get flood insurance. High-risk areas, on the other hand, will immediately get notified about their mandatory flood insurance requirement by the mortgage company.

It's factual that both of these properties can get flooded equally given the right circumstances like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida recently.

With the Risk Rating 2.0, this "not in a flood zone" misconception in flood insurance from property owners, agents, and lenders alike will be eliminated since each property will have its individual risk of flooding. Basically, all properties will experience flood one way or the other regardless of the flood zone.

This type of change is the first blow to the real estate market since it might discourage a lot of property owners to buy a property. It comes down to the question "will I be able to resell my house?" when all properties have flood risks.

Mortgage and Flood Insurance Policies

When it comes to sales of properties, one of the biggest concerns for buyers is affordability especially when you put in that mortgage, homeowner's insurance, and flood insurance. With the Risk Rating 2.0, the goal is to make more people be aware of their actual risk and convince them to secure flood policies for their homes.

When you take a mortgage out on a home, you'll have a secret escrow in form of these insurance policies. This means that moving into a new property will also get you a possibly more expensive loan and payment each month since you will get a more accurate representation of the flood coverage due to your risks.

Will the NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 Kill the Real Estate Market?

It's important to remember that when you have a flood insurance policy in place, it will be a separate payment from the homeowner's insurance or the mortgage loan per month. The thing is, you can't really escape floods as we've seen with Hurricane Ida in New York, so getting flood insurance is a must to protect your personal property or contents as well as your entire home.

This might cause an effect where people will rather do measures to better protect their own house instead of buying a new one. The chance of people having cheaper homes to get more security when it comes to floods might also go up.

Best Steps Forward

The real estate won't absolutely be killed off by the new Risk Rating 2.0 program since a lot of people will still buy or sell houses. However, it's more likely that the industry will either have to strategize with this new program or get massively hurt by it.

At the end of the day, this new program isn't just for the sake of creating more problems other than the threat of being in a flood plain or waters rushing to inundate your property. This is equity in action for a reason since flood insurance is somewhat getting ignored to the point that it becomes detrimental to one's investments and homes.

We've seen how Hurricane Ida showed that flood zones aren't really the safeguard from flooding since water will never know where and when to stop. New York saw a lot of homeowners clueless on the steps forward to recover from the damages.

The best thing to do is to really think hard about selling or buying a house since it will also include flood insurance one way or the other. Regardless of flood zones, every home will get to see their flood risks and the scores won't be zero.

If you have questions on how to best approach real estate with the Risk Rating 2.0, how to get flood insurance, and how to see your flood risk scores even before the new program kicks in, click below to reach us.

Get Your Flood Risk Score Here!

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Remember, we have an educational background in flood mitigation which lets us help you understand your flood insurance, your flood insurance, and mitigating your property long-term.

 

Flood insurance rates can be all over the board. Someone might have a rate of $450 in Birmingham Alabama then someone might have a rate of $2000 in Tuscaloosa Alabama.

So how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

Well before we can really answer that question we need to look at some factors that can impact flood insurance in Alabama.

  1. Elevation
  2. Foundation
  3. Type of Coverage

So lets take a brief look at some things above that can impact flood insurance in places like Tuscaloosa, Pell City, Demopolis, Huntsville, and Birmingham Alabama.

Elevation plays a major role in flood insurance rates. As you can see with the photo below. The further your property is below the base flood elevation the higher your flood insurance premiums can be.

So the rate for a property that is negative -1 foot and a property that is -3 feet could be hundreds of dollars.

Now lets look at foundation types. Your foundation type could play a major role on your flood insurance premiums. Alabama homes are known for having basements which could cause many homes to have a more negative number on their elevation.

Homes with above grade crawlspaces could have an advantage if they have flood vents installed properly. If these things are down properly this may not count as your lowest rated floor. So while the elevation of the crawlspace might be -1 but the next floor is +2 this could serve as a great benefit to the premiums on a flood insurance policy.

Lets look at the 3rd factor which is the type of coverage. This could go a few ways whether you are using the property for commercial or residential use. Then there is the factor if it is considered to be residential or a non residential building.

Remember in order for a commercial property to be considered residential 75% of the living space has to be used for residential purposes.

As you can see there can be alot of different factors.

So lets get back to the question how much is too much for flood insurance in Alabama?

It depends if we are talking about the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy in Alabama. While all the rates with the National Flood Insurance Program should be the same many times lack of knowledge on the insurance agents part could cause you to see a difference.

On the private flood insurance side each carrier sets their rates based on the underwriting factors they use to insure a property.

These can be different from FEMA for example some companies will not insure properties in the 20 year flood plain or properties that are in the flood way.

Want to know what a floodway is?

 

So at the end of the day whether you decide to go with the National Flood Insurance Program or a private flood insurance policy its all about what your budget is and what you feel comfortable paying each year. Its also important to understand that these rates can go up from year to year.

So if you have further questions about flood insurance rates in Alabama then make sure to click here.

You can also checkout our YouTube channel where we do daily flood education videos. You can also check out our podcast.

Remember we have an educational background in flood mitigation this means we can help you understand your flood insurance, flood risk, and mitigating your property long term.