Want to Know the Current and Future Flood Risk of a Florida Property You’re Interested in Purchasing? There’s an App for That!

You’ve been on the hunt to purchase a home in Florida, maybe even in the Tampa Bay area. With inventory consistently low throughout the state for the last year and a half, it’s been a challenging search. However, you think you may have finally found “the one” – a home in which you can envision you and your family happily settling down. Before making the decision to buy, you want to conduct some due diligence and find out what type of flood risk this home carries. With climate change an ever growing threat – especially here in the Sunshine State, you want to know what type of future flood risk this home will face as well. Instead of depending on notoriously unreliable FEMA maps or paying for services that can only provide a portion of this information, there is finally an app for that – one which can provide data on combined flood risk from rain, storms, rivers, and rising seas, according to a Miami Herald’s published report that posted yesterday.  It’s called Flood Factor, and the site, created by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group that is focused on the relationship between property values and climate change, is just a few short weeks from launching. As a matter of fact, you can sign up to be notified when the site goes live here.

The Miami Herald published report is worth checking out as it provides an example of a Miami-Dade map produced by Flood Factor, which offers detailed information on current and future flood risk for the area on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 indicating severe risk. The severe to extreme risk rating is no surprise for Miami-Dade, an area that is a hot spot for hurricanes which have been growing increasingly more dangerous and destructive as a result of climate change. The area is already battling rising tides and studies have shown it to be one of the most vulnerable places on earth due to its low-lying geography.

The Miami Herald article is packed with valuable information for both buyers and sellers; here are some key highlights:

  • According to this new tool, 35% of Florida’s 8.9 million homes are at risk of at least minor flooding right now, and 10% of those (approximately 900,000 homes) are currently at risk for severe flooding.
  • Searching a property on this site will show the flood risk from 1 to 10 but it also shows the increasing likelihood of flooding over 30 years, the timeline for a typical mortgage. A range of tools provide details that show what future flooding may look like on a particular parcel of land and compares it to the surrounding neighborhood, city, county, and state.
  • Currently, Flood Factor and FEMA data show about 1 in 5 Florida homes are in a special flood hazard area that requires mandatory flood insurance. Flood Factor predictions show that this number could jump to 1 in 4 in the next 30 years.
  • Growing research suggests that climate change is already affecting real estate values, and it also shows that homes outside of flood zones are appreciating faster than homes located within flood zones.

This tool provides the type of  information that is exactly what home buyers need to make educated choices on home buying in Florida. Flood Factor assists homebuyers in making a decision that will help them avoid getting struck by a powerful hurricane or getting stuck with the economic hardship of escalating flood insurance and decreasing home values in the future.

For decades, Florida has been focusing its efforts on increasing development along the coasts. While property values are still rising as buyers still seek out waterfront property, growing evidence shows that climate change will eventually undermine these types of investments. Increasingly unaffordable rates for hurricane and flood insurance in addition to home buyers coming to terms with the actual risk of owning a seaside abode will inevitably change this trend.

Flood Factor isn’t all doom and gloom, however, as it also provides a list of solutions to keep homes and communities safe from flooding, with ideas that range from installing flood gates on homes to calling your local representative to advocate for climate action.

Bottom line: if you are in the market to purchase a home in Florida, the Flood Factor app is going to be an important tool to provide you with very valuable and reliable data. Sign up to to learn when the site goes live and refer to it during your home search!