Understanding the Effect of Flood Risk on Residential Property Values

A small wooden house charm sitting in a puddle of water, symbolizing flood risk.

Natural disasters are erratic and unplanned events that can have a drastic effect on your property – and by extension, what it is worth.

In recent years, we have seen much more extreme weather events taking place, and it is taking a toll on infrastructure as a whole. As homeowners, this means we have to put effort into protecting our homes from taking on exponential damage due to the weather.

Prevention is better than cure, and in this article, we explore the risks floods pose to your property and ways to mitigate damage from happening and to help prevent the residential value of your property from decreasing.

The importance of property value

When you are looking for homes, you naturally check the property value. If the value is low, it is usually considered to be a red flag. This poses the question as to why it is so low. This is where research comes in – socio-economic factors and natural disaster risks may be the reason why.

If the area is prone to flooding and undertakes a lot of damage due to stagnating water, many people would not find it a desirable place to live, bringing down the value of the property.

This in turn can affect the resale value of your home in the event you want to move in the future.

How natural disasters affect property value

Living in a disaster-prone zone does not readily mean that your home loses its value. This coupled with unpreparedness to handle the damage of a natural disaster is what actually devalues your home.

Due to the nature of events like flooding, storms, or hurricanes, it can cause irreparable damage to your property which will result in the value of your home decreasing further.

To better understand whether or not your home is in an area that is susceptible to flooding, you can either look at a flood zone map or acquire the services of a tool that alerts you to the potential risks of the area where you live. 

For example, if you live in an area like Cuyahoga, Ohio, which borders on a lake, flooding is a concern as the area is prone to incidents like hurricanes and storms – having suffered seven severe storms since the early 2000s.

Understanding the Flood Risk

Flood risk is the amount of damage undertaken due to floods, especially if not adequately prepared for them. According to a report by CBC, in less than 80 years 325,000 inland Canadians will be living in areas deemed as flood risk zones. This jump in numbers means that we will be looking at damages on a larger scale. This begs the question, why is this happening?

Climate Change

With climate change causing changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, a lot of changes are taking place. We see an increase in sea levels, and the weather is becoming more erratic. There are instances of winter weather occurring in late spring, and summer weather occurring in late autumn. There are also more storms, heatwaves, and extreme weather conditions taking place. Naturally, this also means that there is an increase in localized flooding, especially in areas that are closer to large bodies of water.

Natural floods

Floods can occur for several reasons. If you live near large bodies of water or at rivers, there may be erosion of riverbanks. This, in addition to increasing sea levels, means that when you experience severe rains, these bodies of water will overflow. Aged storm and drainage systems in your neighborhood can back up and cause flooding to occur.

Property damages caused by floods

Some of the damages that your property can experience due to flooding include the foundation of your house becoming compromised, damaged plumbing, and damaged electrical and gas connections.

Due to the majority of homes being created with wood, water stagnation can end up compromising the wood’s integrity and cause it to disintegrate or rot.

Mold is another concern, as prolonged exposure can cause the inhabitants of the house to fall sick.

In addition to this, when the rains and flooding are occurring, the sheer volume and pressure of water can break through windows and doors.

Apart from structural damage, the belongings inside your home are also at risk of being damaged or getting lost in the water.

Unnatural floods

It is important to note that flood damage is not only limited to natural occurrences. Accidents can occur at home too. In certain instances, you will find damaged pipes cause homes to flood inside. Sometimes accidents can occur with your washing machine or dishwasher, causing water to overflow and stagnate in your home. While this is uncommon, you need to be aware that it can also comprise household structure.

Ways to mitigate flood damage

The first step to prepare against flood damage would be to check if you are in a flood zone or near large bodies of water. This way you can begin preparations to floodproof your home.

Even if you do not live in these types of areas, it would be a good idea to prepare ahead due to climate change and the unforeseen weather conditions it may bring.

One way to start floodproofing your home would be to conduct renovations in your home using materials created to aid in floodproofing homes. Attend to any cracks in the foundation and seal it off. If you are able, elevate the foundation of your home.

Consider using flood barriers as well. Inside your home, move the electrical outlets higher, especially if they are lower to the ground.

If you live in an area that is prone to flash floods, look at insurance options that provide coverage for natural disasters. This will help mitigate any costs for repairs and prevent financial hardships.

What to do in a flood warning

In the event of a flood or potential flood, your local channels and news stations will provide a warning. There are also apps that alert you when an incident like this is set to take place.

If would be handy to have an emergency bag with necessities in it kept in your car or near the entrance of your home. It needs to be easy to access in the event of an evacuation. Keep a change of clothes, a first aid kit, and important identification documents on hand and easy to access.

Switch off the main electrical unit and ensure that all windows and doors are shut. Move essential items to higher areas in your home. If appliances are not affected by the water, and you are not standing in water, unplug them to prevent outages.

Be careful when driving or walking in water especially if it is not stagnant – it can be easy to fall over or be swept away.

The bottom line

Living in a flood zone is becoming more of an occurrence, especially due to climate change. With floods comes the risk of property damage, and the likeness of your residential property value decreasing as a result of the risk. In order to protect your home and its value, it is important to discern whether your home is in a flood zone and implement ways to prevent extensive damage from occurring.

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