COMMENT OF THE DAY: A SIMPLE QUESTION ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN HOUSTON “I’m in the market for a new place. Where can I find if the house was flooded or is otherwise in a compromised zone? It appears in Harris County such information wasn’t recorded or readily available. Thanks.” [Sparta, commenting on What Makes West Houston the Bermuda Triangle of Real Estate Disclosure] Illustration: Lulu
I sell flood insurance. Whether a home flooded in the past or not, is not indicative of what may happen in the future. Theoretically, any home, anywhere, can flood in the right set of circumstances. Buy flood insurance if you are worried about the peril of flooding. The sellers disclosure should enumerate all prior damage to the home which the seller is aware of, including damage caused by the peril of flood.
Ask the seller to get a copy of the CLUE report for the house. That will tell you if their was a claim filed on the property.
It will only show the last 7 years and only covers that particular seller’s loss history but it’s a good way to try and verify the story being told on the disclosure.
Property Code section 5.008(e) says the seller is obligated to report flooding that the *seller has knowledge of*. But that can be a very limited time frame, and I suppose some folks will fudge. Seems like a building inspector should be able to detect previous damage. Also, the city issues permits for major repairs, and those should be a matter of public record, no? An accurate flood plain map would be helpful, though not fool-proof. Besides actual flooding, you’ll want to know what you’d have to pay for flood insurance if required (or desired).
The Seller should say whether it (or the property) has flooded in the Seller’s Disclosure, unless it is in an estate and a disclosure isn’t required. I’d heard at one point you could see some areas flooded on Google Maps.
@Jardinero1 and @diggity are both very correct and I would second their suggestions. I would also add that asking neighbors for flood history can be the best free information available. @Gisgo’s post is somewhat misleading. An “accurate” flood plain map? Define accuracy? Flood plain maps are not intended to show historical HIGH WATER levels. They are maps generated from computer models to depict a statistical rain event. Any engineer working on behalf of any property owner can submit Letters of Map Revision to move flood plain lines based on certified ground topography collected by a Professional Surveyor. These are lines on a paper, they do not show the extent of Harvey’s flooding, or TS Allison, or any other historical rain event. They are used for high level risk assessment. They do not guarantee your home will/will not flood. It would be my recommendation that all Houston residents purchase flood insurance. If you are out of the 100 and 500 yr flood plains the insurance premium is minimal, maybe a couple hundred $ a year. Cheap security.
Thanks everyone for your help. The way I’ interpret these comments, the buyer’s agent at best overlooks these issues and the seller’s forgets to disclose. Do I need a realtor to buy a house in Houston? Can I do the work myself? Will the seller’s agent deal with me? Where can one find these answers?