When we think about climate change, we often focus on its impacts to the planet at large. But many people don’t stop and think about its potential impact on their own home. Rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms have the potential to damage homes and uproot lives, so it’s important to understand these risks and be prepared.
We’ve partnered with First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group, to add comprehensive flood risk data to nearly all of the properties on realtor.com.
Starting today, each property on realtor.com will list its FEMA flood zone and a Flood Factor between one and 10 that represents its risk of flooding not just today but over a thirty-year mortgage. This first-of-its-kind data integration will be available on for-sale and off-market properties so that homeowners and potential buyers can better understand a property’s flood risk and take necessary steps to make sure their home is properly protected. Users can also drill down for additional details on past, present and future risk, and explore the interactive flood map.
Before now, flood risk information was extremely difficult to find and not always accurate. 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. This is an unhappy surprise and something no one wants to deal with when buying a home. By surfacing this information upfront, consumers can have all the information they need to make informed decisions and feel confident about the home buying process.
When it comes to buying a home in a flood zone, buyers should do their research and make sure that they have insurance coverage if needed. A recent survey we conducted with research company Toluna found that a majority of buyers (55 percent) would buy a home even if they knew it was in a flood zone. That said, roughly four in 10 would expect some kind of discount on the home, likely to cover extra costs associated with that risk including flood insurance and prevention technology.
First Street Foundation’s flood data is the most comprehensive in the industry because it integrates future environmental conditions, maps precipitation as a stand-alone risk, and includes areas that are not mapped by FEMA. The model was developed by 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. It looks at flood hazards, projects future climate scenarios, incorporates local adaptation, and validates against satellite and government records for accuracy. It takes into account the four major contributors to flooding: tidal, rain, riverine and storm surge. By starting with property level data, overlaying building footprints, and applying flood hazard layers, it calculates the max depth of flood water that could potentially reach the home.
When combined with the FEMA flood zone, this data can paint a more complete picture of a property’s flood risk. By better understanding the risk, homeowners can protect their home with flood insurance and other precautionary measures.
We’re excited to be able to provide realtor.com users with this comprehensive and invaluable information. As always, our mission is to make buying, selling and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. The addition of Flood Factor data to our site will certainly help consumers to better evaluate potential risk and make sure their home is protected now and in the future.
Flood data is now available for properties across the contiguous U.S. on web, mobile web, iOS and Android.