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Flood Zones: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Home

When it comes to buying a new home, the location is one of the most important factors.

It’s not just about finding a neighborhood you want to live in—it’s also about making sure that your home is located in an area safe from crime, are the local schools clean and safe, is the home prone to wild fires or other natural disasters such as floods.

If you’ve been house hunting recently, you might have come across the term “Flood Zone AE.”

But what does that mean?

Lets look at flood zone AE and why it matters when buying a new home.

What Does Flood Zone AE Mean?

The letters AE stand for “Area of Special Flood Hazard” and indicate that a property is in a higher-risk flood zone.

In other words, this property has an increased chance of flooding due to its proximity to bodies of water or its in low-lying areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies these areas with detailed maps available online for anyone to view. (see this link).

Link to FEMAs Maps


Should I Avoid Buying a Home in Flood Zone AE?

In general, buying any home or property comes with unique risks, and although some may feel that it’s not recommended to buy a home in an area with a higher risk of flooding—especially if you don’t plan to purchase flood insurance.

I would like to offer a different perspective.

Most lenders will require homeowners in higher-risk flood zones (flood zone AE) to purchase flood insurance coverage before they approve the loan—so make sure you check with your lender before committing to any purchases.

Properties that are in a moderate risk flood zone or what is called “Flood zone X” will have a choice if they want the coverage.

Flood maps are hard to keep up on as areas develop and many maps are more than 50 years old so people in these supposed lower risk flood zone may not know their true risk.

Where as properties that are mapped into higher risk flood zone know the real risk and should get flood coverage.

This is a positive bonus to buying a home in a AE flood zone.

Another one is communities in the higher risk flood zones are required to do flood mitigation efforts to try to reduce the risk of flooding so there is a realistic chance that that the structure hasn’t flooded and might not happen in your ownership.

Only mother nature knows when she will down pour in a area an it might not happen.

Since lenders require coverage in AE flood zones however the homeowners are more prepared with a flood policy–which is a good thing.

The Flood Nerds would like to convince you that Flood zone AE isn’t bad as you would think.

First off only Mother Nature knows when and if a given area will ever flood, next to get the flood zone map of flood zone AE your community is required to do flood mitigation projects that are intended to reduce the potential of loss in a higher risk area and history shows that these efforts do work for the most part.

You will be required to purchase a flood insurance policy if you have a mortgagee (meaning you are covering a huge coverage gap homeowners polices won’t).

And in the slight chance that property does actually flood you will be able to off set financial ruin.

Sadly over the last few years starting with Harvey 2017 and all storms following to date.

A large portion of the flooding happened to communities that were considered lower risk.

Many of these property owners didn’t have flood coverage.

They are now forced to face difficult decisions such as
– do you go though a foreclosure?,
– do walk away from the property and take a loss?
– or get a loan (with very high interest) to pay for the repairs?

How Can I Protect Myself From Flooding?

The best way to protect yourself from flooding is by purchasing flood insurance when you are planning to buy the property.

Even if you live outside of an official FEMA-designated Flood Zone AE area, it’s still important to be aware of potential sources of flooding nearby and take steps to minimize the risk as much as possible.

Additionally, being informed on local regulations regarding development near waterways can help prevent future problems.

No matter where your dream home is located, understanding the risks associated with living there is essential for protecting yourself.

Knowing what Flood Zone AE means and how it can affect your decision making process when purchasing real estate can help you make an informed decision that serves both your financial interests and your safety concerns for years down the line.

With the right information and planning ahead, buying a home in Flood Zone AE doesn’t have to be intimidating or risky!