When purchasing a new home, especially in flood-prone areas, it's important to assess potential flood damage and risk. Most prospective buyers don’t take the time to investigate whether a property is subject to flooding, and may not be aware of information to make informed decisions. To avoid being surprised by flooding or damage, here are some questions new homeowners can ask sellers to gather important information:

  1. Ask the seller if the property has ever experienced flooding in the past. This includes both major floods and smaller, more localized incidents.
  2. Ask if the property has a history of receiving federal disaster assistance to help rebuild after a flood.
  3. Determine the property's flood zone classification. This information is typically available through FEMA's Flood Map Service Center.
  4. Ask about the current flood insurance coverage on the property. This can help you understand the potential cost of insuring the home against flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has made flood insurance more obtainable for homeowners in flood-prone areas.
  5. Find out if any recent improvements or mitigation measures have been made to reduce the risk of flooding, such as the installation of a sump pump or elevation of utilities. People who make improvements to their homes, such as implementing flood-resistant measures, tend to have lower claim times and greater satisfaction in the event of a flood.
  6. If the property has a basement or crawlspace, ask about any history of water intrusion or moisture problems in these areas.
  7. Ask about the condition of the property's drainage systems, including gutters, downspouts, and grading, as well as any plans for future maintenance or improvements.
  8. Ask about any local flood risk factors specific to the area, such as proximity to rivers, lakes, or coastal areas, as well as any known drainage issues in the neighborhood.
  9. Familiarize yourself with the seller's disclosure requirements in your state regarding flood damage and risk. In the State of Maryland, sellers are only required to disclose whether water stands on the property for more than 24 hours after heavy rain and whether or not the property is located in a flood zone. Real estate agencies, online services like Zillow and Redfin, and public records such as flood maps and inspection reports can also provide valuable information about flood risks associated with a property.
  10. Consider hiring a professional inspector with experience in assessing flood risks to thoroughly inspect the property and provide an unbiased assessment of any potential issues.

By being informed about flood risks and taking proactive measures, homeowners can better protect their properties and mitigate the potential impacts of flooding.

 Additional Resources

FEMA Flood Risk Disclosure Report
Maryland Flood Risk Guide 
Maryland Residental Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement