Does Your State Require Real Estate Sellers to Disclose Sea Level Rise Flooding?

Each state has different requirements regarding a seller’s obligation to disclose sea level rise flooding issues to buyers in a real estate transaction. Not being aware of a state’s seller’s disclosure law can put buyers, sellers and even real estate agents at great risk.

Some states, like Louisiana, are very stringent. Sellers have to tell a buyer if a property floods, the source of the flooding, the type of damage the flooding causes, and whether any flood insurance claims have been filed. The last point is important because there have been cases where buyers have purchased a property and not been aware of a flooding issue. When the property floods and they file a claim, the past claims can be used against them and their insurance rates can skyrocket.

Other states, like Virginia, are pretty much the wild west when it comes to seller’s disclosures. Basically, sellers don’t have to disclose anything, and it’s up to buyers to find out what’s going on.

Florida lies somewhere in the middle. The state requires sellers to disclose defects that they’re aware of that materially affect the value of a property. This could be construed as meaning they’re required to inform buyers if a property experiences flooding. But in all actuality, the language is so non-specific that the state’s insurers are expected to lobby for legislation this year that’s more in line with Louisiana’s detailed level of disclosure.

Strong seller’s disclosure laws protect buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Buyers, of course, are protected because they’re informed about sea level rise flooding issue BEFORE they make a purchase. Sellers are protected because they will know exactly what’s they’re required to tell the buyer. This can help them to avoid lawsuits for failure to disclose flooding. And real estate agents are protected because they, too, will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be able to provide better advice to their clients.

A note of caution: Even in states that have strong seller’s disclosure laws, buyers should find out from more than one source if a property or neighborhood floods. Buyers should ask the seller to order a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report from their insurer. The report will tell the buyer if any claims have been filed with most insurers in the last 5-7 years. Strolling the neighborhood and asking residents if the property or neighborhood floods can also yield valuable information.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has an excellent online map that features information about each state’s seller’s disclosure law. There’s also more information about this important issue in “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions.”

Author: Larry Richardson

Thank you for visiting my website! I'm an experienced and licensed drone pilot, photographer, videographer, real estate agent (voluntarily inactive), journalist and social media influencer. At my visual media company, Delray Dynamic Arts, LLC, I've used my skills to shoot stills and videos for real estate agents, private property owners, and a company that specializes in artistic holiday light displays. As The Step by Step Chef, I've published cookbooks and created hundreds of cooking videos for my StepByStepChef.com website that have attracted over 14 million views. I'm an honors graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Journalism with years of experience in marketing, advertising, public relations and public affairs. I look forward to putting my knowledge and experience to work for you!

%d bloggers like this: