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New flood disclosure rule provides NC homebuyers with property’s flood history

Last year, the National Park Service used funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to remove two threatened homes in Rodanthe. Both homes had been purchased in the last five years by their previous owners, despite a history of flooding.
Zachary Turner
/
WFAE
Last year, the National Park Service used funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to remove two threatened homes in Rodanthe. Both homes had been purchased in the last five years by their previous owners, despite a history of flooding.

A new flood disclosure rule takes effect Monday in North Carolina. It makes disclosing flood history mandatory during the homebuying process.

Burning fossil fuels is driving up global average temperatures and increasing inland flooding. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture and rains harder during storms. This increases flooding inside and outside federally designated floodplains.

The cost of flooding in North Carolina is expected to increase 34% by 2050.
Courtesy
/
Climate Central
The cost of flooding in North Carolina is expected to increase 34% by 2050.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission now requires all home sellers to disclose information about their property’s flood histories, including answering questions about flood insurance and past disaster aid.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is one of several organizations that petitioned the commission to adopt a new flood disclosure rule.

Floods rank second in weather-related deaths in the U.S. They’re also expensive, costing nearly $700 million annually, according to research group Climate Central. Federal floodplain maps use past data to determine where flooding is likely.

“But with climate change, that’s going to be a wrench thrown into the gears of that process,” said Joel Scata, an attorney with the NRDC.

In Charlotte, 2,700 residential and commercial structures are in the federal floodplain. However, more than 10 times that many properties risk flooding in the next 30 years, according to modeling by the First Street Foundation.

“A buyer can then determine, ‘Oh, maybe this isn’t the house for me,' or, ‘I’m going to take this house, but I need to get flood insurance,’” Scata said.

For homeowners living in a floodplain, federal home buyout programs can serve as a lifeline. In Mecklenburg County, Storm Water Services administers local and federal funds to purchase and remove homes in historic floodplains.

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Zachary Turner is a climate reporter and author of the WFAE Climate News newsletter. He freelanced for radio and digital print, reporting on environmental issues in North Carolina.
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