Disclosing Flooding in Virginia, Sort of

Virginia is a buyer beware Commonwealth. Yes, there is the mandatory disclosure to disclose “repetitive floods” — “repetitive risk loss” means that two or more claims of more than $1,000 were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program within any rolling 10-year period, since 1978″ but no disclosures about flooding, flood zones, FEMA flood plains, or really, anything.

People care about whether their house will flood, and I’d wager more care about this risk now than did in 2016 when I wrote, Would You Buy a House In (or near) a Flood Plain?

This is a great story about North Carolina’s new flood disclosure law:

“Hours into a marathon meeting earlier this month, and with little fanfare, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission gave its blessing to a proposal that could have profound impacts in a state where thousands of homes face threats from rising seas, unprecedented rainfall and overflowing rivers.

Soon, anyone who sells a home in the state will be required to disclose to prospective buyers far more about a property’s flood risks — and flood history. Rather than merely noting whether a home is in a federally designated flood zone, they will have to share whether a property has flood insurance, whether any past flood-related claims have been filed, or if the owner has ever received any federal assistance in the wake of a hurricane, tidal inundation or other flood-related disaster.”

The list of things sellers don’t have to disclose is basically a checklist of things buyers should check

§ 55.1-703. Required disclosures for buyer to beware; buyer to exercise necessary due diligence

  1. The owner makes no representations or warranties as to the condition of the real property or any improvements thereon, …
  2. …  with respect to current lot lines or the ability to expand, improve, or add any structures on the property, …
  3. … with respect to any matters that may pertain to parcels adjacent to the subject parcel, including zoning classification or permitted uses of adjacent parcels,…
  4. … whether the provisions of any historic district ordinance affect the property …
  5. … whether the property contains any resource protection areas established in an ordinance implementing the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act …
  6. … with respect to information on any sexual offenders registered …
  7. … whether the property is within a dam break inundation zone. …
  8. … to the presence of any wastewater system, including the type or size of the wastewater system or associated maintenance responsibilities related to the wastewater system, located on the property, …
  9. … makes no representations with respect to any right to install or use solar energy collection devices on the property …
  10. … The owner makes no representations with respect to whether the property is located in one or more special flood hazard areas,  …
  11. … whether the property is subject to one or more conservation or other easements …
  12. … whether the property is subject to a community development authority approved by a local governing body …
  13. … whether the property is located on or near deposits of marine clays (marumsco soils), …
  14. … whether the property is located in a locality classified as Zone 1 or Zone 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Map of Radon Zones …
  15. … whether the property contains any pipe, pipe or plumbing fitting, fixture, solder, or flux that does not meet the federal Safe Drinking Water Act definition of “lead free” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300g-6 …
  16. … to the existence of defective drywall on the property …
  17. … to the condition or regulatory status of any impounding structure or dam on the property or under the ownership of the common interest community that the owner of the property is required to join…

And then, lots and lots of information about flooding

D. The Real Estate Board shall make available on its website a flood risk information form. Such form shall be substantially as follows:

Flood Risk Information Form

The purpose of this information form is to provide property owners and potential property owners with information regarding flood risk. This information form does not determine whether a property owner will be required to purchase a flood insurance policy. That determination is made by the lender providing a loan for the property at the lender’s discretion.

And then there’s this mandatory disclosure that’s likely less relevant in the Charlottesville real estate market area, as it doesn’t mandate disclosure of more common-to-here things like “water gets in basement on heavy rains,” or “some water gets into the cellar; it’s always been that way.”

“The owner of residential real property located in the Commonwealth who has actual knowledge that the dwelling unit is a repetitive risk loss structure shall disclose such fact to the purchaser. For purposes of this section, “repetitive risk loss” means that two or more claims of more than $1,000 were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program within any rolling 10-year period, since 1978. Such disclosure shall be provided to the purchaser on a form provided by the Real Estate Board on its website.”

Representing sellers, I disclose defects that I know about. Representing buyers, I encourage lots of due diligence.

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