New Texas Senate Bill: If Home Lies in Any Flood Zone, Seller Must Say So

NEW TEXAS SENATE BILL: IF HOME LIES IN ANY FLOOD ZONE, SELLER MUST SAY SO State Senator Joan Huffman filed a bill last Friday that, if passed, would require sellers to tell buyers if their homes are located in a 100- or 500-year floodplain, a reservoir, or a flood pool — the area next to a reservoir that’s expected to fill up with water during major flooding events (but that most were unaware of until reporters blew the lid on their existence in late 2017). The bill, S.B. 339, would also force owners to disclose whether the home they’re listing has flooded before, whether it might flood under “catastrophic circumstances,” and if it’s located less than 5 miles downstream from a reservoir. “If a seller doesn’t disclose the information,” reports the Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier, “the law would allow buyers to terminate the contract — or sue.” [Texas Tribune] Photo of flooding at Creech Elementary School, Katy, near Barker Reservoir: Breta Gatlin

12 Comment

  • This could also be called the “Full Employment for Surveyors Act” — not that it would be a bad thing. To the extent these questions can be answered, it will typically take a surveyor to do it. Way too many residential buyers rely on their lenders to determine flood risk and, with a few exceptions, brokers should strongly recommend that a survey, including a flood zone determination, should be obtained in every deal — flood insurance too!
    That said, current disclosure forms required by the Texas Property Code already address whether property is within the 100 year flood zone and whether it has experienced prior flooding. Does anyone know how a seller is supposed to know whether their property lies within a “flood pool”? If by “flood pool” we mean property at or below the elevation of the top of the spillway? If so, that will include substantial areas of western Harris County that were not flooded by the growing reservoirs after Harvey (peaking at 3 to 4 feet below the spillways), I’d hate to see what will happen to the value the homes in those areas.
    Why should a seller be responsible for telling a buyer whether the property is “within five miles downstream of a reservoir” — ever heard of Google Maps? And what seller wouldn’t check the box that says the property “may flood under catastrophic circumstances”? How is this information helpful to a buyer?
    It would be better to have buyers sign disclosure forms that spell out in horrifying detail the uncertainty of flood risk and the idiocy of not buying flood insurance. Something like the health warnings on cigarette packaging would be a good start.

  • And this bill offers no protection for renters.

  • There goes property values. Good ole Abbott said they would focus on reducing property taxes. Who expected them to just reduce the value of said property?

  • Or maybe an OPT OUT of flood insurance at closing?

  • Dont let this distract you from the fact that Google Earth deleted the satellite imagery that they scanned of Houston the day after Harvey. That would be a telling sight if your area was flood prone.

  • CYA: SAy yes to all the flood disclosure questions.

  • Mr.Clean19,

    Google didn’t delete the satellite imagery showing the Harvey flooding from Google Earth. Just set the historical imagery timeline to 8/2017 and it is still available. There is no conspiracy here.

  • @Skeptic when I signed the mortgage papers on my house there was a note that since we were in the 100-year flood plain there was a 27% chance the house would flood during the 30 year term of the note. I don’t know what additional notice the seller or the lender could have been expected to give me.

  • Mr.Clean19,

    You are incorrect.

  • This is generally meaningless. If you bought from a builder, odds are that they did the development through a LLC and sucked all the money out of the business long ago. You are left trying to recover from a shell of a company, spending thousands trying to litigate fraudulent transfers. If you buy from John Q. Public, odds are you will never be able to collect and rescission is meaningless because the bank will not let you out of your mortgage without cash.

  • i think it’s reasonable to disclose if a home’s been flooded in the past to a potential buyer. on the downside, most of meyerland and along braes bayou’s now filled with tear-downs.

  • @skeptic has it right. Any property can flood. Disclosure after disclosure will not change or mitigate that essential fact. Buy flood insurance if you want to recover your loss in the event of a flood.