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UK Home Buyers Want More Information on Flood Risks

A recent survey reveals that the vast majority of homebuyers in the UK want to receive upfront information about a property’s flood risk.

A study from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) suggests that an average nine out of 10 people feel strongly that flood risk information should be part of the material compiled when properties are put up for sale.

No property search websites currently include flood risk details for the location of listed properties despite having data on anything from school catchment locations to popular newspapers in the area. There is also no flood risk information on brochures for new build properties.

The ABI is calling for estate agents and online property portals to automatically include information such as flood risk for the location of homes that they list. These details should be based on the Environment Agency data, which is publicly available.

It insists that all solicitors and conveyancers follow the guidelines established by the Law Society to carry out specific searches for flood risk, and arrange for a comprehensive assessment by an expert if there is any such risk to the property.

These proposals are in keeping with a recommendation made by Pitt Review after the 2007 floods: that those buying a property should be made aware of any flood risk information up front. Although not a definitive guide to an individual property’s flood risk, such information would be a great indicator of where further investigations could be needed.

The ABI is also putting out a new guide aimed at house hunters. It advises people of the steps they should follow in the meantime to remain informed about the flood risk of properties under consideration.

 

Specialists in Construction Insurance

Huw Evans, general director of ABI, says that flooding can ruin a home, destroying possessions and forcing the owners to move out while repairs are carried out. A higher flood risk also tends to include higher insurance premiums.

He said that with one out of every six homes at risk of flooding, flood risk consideration needs to be as much a part of the homebuying process as transport links. At present such information tends to come too late, after buyers have invested a lot of money in the conveyancing process.

Mr Evans said that open data is presently available to be used for such purposes in England and Wales but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart confirmed that more information is being made available. Because flooding can devastate lives and properties alike, everyone needs to have access to flood risk information in their area, so they can make informed decisions when buying a new home.

Environment Agency data indicates that 2.4 million English properties are presently at risk of coastal or river flooding, while an additional three million are at risk of surface water flooding. 600,000 properties are in danger from both. After the winter floods of 2013-14, more than £450 million was paid out in flood claims.

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