How to sell a house in a flood zone


With yet more severe flooding across the UK, many homeowners in flood risk areas now fear that their property may be unsellable. However, while buying a home in a flood-prone area isn’t for everyone, there are those who are willing to put up with the risk in order to live in a location close to water. Moreover, if you’re thinking of putting your house on the market and you live in a flood zone, there are steps you can take to improve the prospects of a sale.

Flood risk surveys are not currently a mandatory part of standard property searches: the onus is on prospective buyers to carry out their own investigations if they have concerns. They are most likely to do this by asking you, or your agent, directly whether your property has ever flooded. Clearly, lying is not an option. However, if your home has indeed flooded, once or more, or is at significant risk of doing so in future, there are many preventative measures you can take in advance of putting your property on the market that will go some way to reassuring prospective buyers that the possibility of future flood damage has been minimised. Such steps include re-landscaping driveways and garden areas, raising thresholds, fitting flood-proof doors and windows, raising damp-proof courses and applying water-proof sealant to exterior walls. You should also contact your local Environment Agency office to check whether they are planning any flood defence schemes in your area.

The question of insurance may also present a potential hurdle for interested buyers. If you have claimed on your home insurance policy for a flooding incident, they will want to know what the consequences of that are. Insurability for flood risk may impact on their ability to raise a mortgage. The good news is that the Government is working with the insurance industry to put together a new scheme, known as Flood Re, to cover properties at high risk of flooding. Whilst the detail of this scheme is still being hammered out, and unlikely to come into effect until beyond the summer of 2015, once in force, it will cap the cost of premiums on vulnerable properties according to their value, thus providing a quantifiable risk for homeowners and prospective buyers.

Finally, if you’re looking to sell your property, don’t forget what it was that motivated you to buy it in the first place. Your property particulars should highlight all the positive aspects of your home. Living in a house next to water – whether that be the sea, a river or a lake – is a dream for many. Waterside properties offering picture postcard views and/or exciting opportunities for the outdoors enthusiast always generate high levels of interest when they come onto the market. And if your property is in good decorative order and in a desirable location, your chances of finding a buyer who can see beyond the flood boundaries may be greater than you think.

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