Online Mapping Tool to Visualize Flood Risk Disclosure Regimes
How do the states compare on flood disclosure laws?
With extreme storms and historic rainfall events continually battering our built-environment, the bluefield challenge is front and center in the battle for humanity’s future. Floods are costly, disruptive and deadly. And while the risks are clearly understood and mother nature repeatedly reminds us of her power, often to terrible effect, we have yet to rise to the challenge presented by rising waters.
Last year, a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters estimated that 41 million people in the U.S. live in flood zones today. That’s more than three times FEMA’s estimate, using FEMA’s own flood maps--long derided as outdated and often cited for underestimating flood risks.
In any case, millions of Americans live in homes at risk of flooding, even without the prospect a more-watery future as a result of climate change. With development rampant in floodplains across the U.S. in recent decades, millions of homes are almost certain to flood given a long enough timeline. Indeed, many homes have already flooded. And once they have, the chance they will flood again increases.
Unfortunately, under most legal regimes in the U.S. today, it’s extremely difficult for a home buyer to discover a property’s flood history unless the seller has personally kept that information and voluntarily disclosed it. Many states do not require sellers inform prospective home buyers whether a property has been damaged by a flood or not. As a result, many home buyers are completely unaware as to whether or not their new home has flooded before.
Sadly, often tragically, homeowners only learn of their property’s propensity to flood after enduring multiple disasters. They didn’t purchase flood insurance because no one told them their property might need it. And in nearly half of U.S. states, there is no requirement a seller disclose whether the property has ever been underwater.
In fact, in 21 U.S. states there is no statutory or regulatory requirement for a seller to disclose a property’s flood risks or past flood damages to a potential buyer whatsoever. The remaining states have varying degrees of disclosure requirements. And this potpourri of state and local policies hampers homebuyers ability to make fully informed decisions
To help empower homeowners to make smart decisions about where to live, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) developed an online map you can use to explore your state’s real estate disclosure laws mean. Click here or on the map below to navigate to the tool:
In too many states, it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to flooding, but the NRDC has some ideas about how to change that.
NRDC was founded in 1970 by a group of law students and attorneys at the forefront of the environmental movement. Today's leadership team and board of trustees makes sure the organization continues to work to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities.
A bluefield possesses water resources itself or has access to a navigable body of water such as a river, sea, or ocean—either directly or via canal or port. Some Bluefields can support viable commercial uses, and many of these commercial bluefields have definitive access or riparian rights. Many other Bluefields merely provide simple enjoyment for the property owners and tenants. Use the bluefield tag on BrownfieldListings.com to post a watershed development RFP, RFQ or RFI, or to simply signal water resources or concerns on your property or in your project.