How to find the flood zone status of your property

FEMA flood mapFEMA Flood Maps Updated

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently made changes to their flood maps resulting in some properties being removed from flood hazard status and others being added. This updated information is important to know because it can result in additional costs for flood insurance if you have a mortgage on your home. FEMA recently redesigned their website so I thought I would provide a tutorial to show you how to look up the new and updated flood hazard status of a property. But first, let’s look at the appraisal report requirements.

Required Information on Appraisal Form

The appraiser is required to note the flood zone, flood map number, and the date of the map on the appraisal form. The appraiser is not an expert in this area, and is by no means the final word on the flood hazard status, therefore if there is any question as to whether the property is in a flood zone then a survey or flood zone certification can be ordered which can give a much more accurate location of the property as it relates to the flood zone.

Appraisers are not surveyors and they make no guarantee regarding the exact location of the property, that is why if there is any question then a survey should be ordered. The appraisal report states the following:

 The appraiser has examined the available flood maps that are provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (or other data sources) and has  noted in the appraisal report whether any portion of the subject site is located in an identified Special Flood Hazard Area. Because the appraiser is not a surveyor, he or she makes no guarantees, express or implied, regarding this determination.

As I noted, the flood zone must be indicated on the form. There are numerous zones that the property can be located in which you can find out about here. If the home is in a flood zone then the lender will typically require flood insurance. HUD has special requirements for home in a flood zone and you can read more about that in the HUD Mortgagee Letter 2010-43.

Flood Zone Status Video Tutorial

The new FEMA website is easy to use. Watch the video below or click here to view it.

I hope this post and flood zone tutorial makes in easy for you to find out the flood zone status of your property. If you have any questions you can connect with me on my social media channels or leave a message below.

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  1. Richard Vaughn says

    Most everything asks for the property address. I am looking at a lot to build on that is on a lake. No one seems to be able to answer this question. The insurance company wants a street address and the bank wants a street address. I have been told they can’t find anything without the street address. Any suggestions?

    • Is there a house built next door. Maybe this would give them enough information until a permanent address is assigned to yours. How about a latitude and longitude?

  2. stuart collins says

    Well I have another question. I checked the maps and our house appears to be within zone X. However the sales contract said that it was in a FEMA flood zone and mandated flood insurance. The map said dec. 2011. Is is possible that the interactive map has not been updated to the actual maps? It was relatively close to a floodzone on the map (1/4 mile).

    • Maps were updated over the last several years and one or the other source could be wrong. You may want to check to see where the information on the contract came from and to see how current it is compared to the online maps.

  3. stuart collins says

    Thank you for the information on how to view the flood maps. I had a question. Is flood insurance required when the house is purchase with cash?

    • Thanks for the question Stuart. Flood insurance is required by the lender to protect their collateral, so if you are paying cash then there is no lender and you don’t have to have flood insurance to satisfy a lender requirement. With that being said, you may want to get it to protect your own interest in the property if it did flood. So while you don’t have to have it to satisfy a lender you may want to get it to protect your property should anything happen.

  4. Nice job, Tom. Flood insurance can make or break a real estate deal if affordability is really tight.

  5. Hi Tom – another good article. You, Ryan and Bill are probably the most prolific appraisal bloggers in the country! This post is good information about flood maps. I can only image what the new maps look like for Miami, Norfolk and some of the coastal areas of Louisiana.

    • Thanks Alison for the kind words. I am sure some of the coastal communities have seen changes in flood zone status, it would be interest to see how the areas have changed.

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