Natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires, can damage or destroy entire communities. If you’re looking for a new home, it’s important to know if the area is prone to any type of natural hazard. If so, that may influence your decision on whether to buy a house and may also affect the cost of ownership.
Find Out if the House Is in an At-Risk Area
All states have laws related to real estate disclosures. If a house is located in a zone that is susceptible to one or more types of natural disasters, the seller may be required to disclose that information under state law. Review the disclosure carefully and ask questions.
If a house was damaged by a natural disaster and was repaired, ask for detailed information on the extent of the damage and the repairs that were made. Request photos of the damage and information on the contractor who performed repairs or who rebuilt the structure. Ask what modifications were made to prevent similar damage from happening again in the future.
You May Have to Pay a Lot for Insurance
If you buy a house in an area that’s prone to certain types of events, such as flooding, you may need to purchase additional insurance. A standard homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover flooding, but you may be able to buy a separate flood insurance policy. The premiums may be expensive, but it may be worthwhile if it will allow you to avoid paying out of pocket to rebuild if you buy a house and then it gets damaged or destroyed by a disaster.
You may be able to make some modifications to keep insurance premiums manageable and to protect the house from future damage. For instance, in areas where flooding is a problem, elevating a house can reduce the risk of water damage. That may also help you qualify for flood insurance at an affordable rate.
Should You Buy a House in an Area That Is Prone to Natural Disasters?
Building codes are often changed after widespread devastation. For example, in areas that frequently experience hurricanes and flooding, local construction codes may be stricter than those in other parts of the country to prevent large-scale damage. If you find a house that has been built or repaired recently and that meets or exceeds local building code requirements, it may be a smart investment.
Carefully Consider All Factors
Request information on natural hazards in the area and measures that have been taken to protect a house from damage. You should always have a house inspected before you proceed with a purchase, no matter where it’s located. Your real estate agent can give you information on the local area, its history, the condition of a house and other factors that may influence your decision.