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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Real estate commission agrees to draft new flood disclosure rules

This house in eastern North Carolina flooded during Hurricane Florence in 2018.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
This house in eastern North Carolina flooded during Hurricane Florence in 2018.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission has agreed to draft rules that would require home sellers to provide more information to buyers about past flood damages and flood risk.

Wednesday's vote came in response to a petition last December by environmental and social justice groups seeking to add flood-related questions to the state's real estate disclosure form.

About a third of U.S. states have no flood damage disclosure rules, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which joined the petition. In a report last year, the group said more than 290,000 single-family homes in North Carolina have past flood damage — both at the coast and inland. In 2021, more than 13,000 of those were sold. Future damage could cost an average of $61,000 per house over 30 years, according to the NRDC study.

The petition asks the commission to consider adding several questions to the state's real estate disclosure form, including whether any structure on the property has ever flooded, whether a claim has ever been filed with the National Flood Insurance Program, and whether the property is covered by flood insurance and the annual cost.

Supporters of the proposed change say new rules are needed as flooding becomes more extreme due to climate change and the effects of bigger storms and sea-level rise.

The NRDC rates North Carolina's current law "inadequate."

“For too long, North Carolina buyers have been kept in the dark about flood risks when choosing where their family will call home. The Real Estate Commission’s decision to grant the petition rectifies the fundamental unfairness of not requiring home buyers be told about a property’s flood history,” NRDC senior attorney Joel Scata said in a statement.

The Southern Environmental Law Center represented NRDC and six other groups in the petition: North Carolina Justice Center, MDC Inc., North Carolina Disaster Recovery and Resiliency School, Robeson County Church and Community Center,and NC Field.

“Today’s decision means homebuyers in North Carolina will receive the information necessary to know if they need flood insurance before buying a property,” said Brooks Rainey-Pearson, senior attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the organizations before the commission.


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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.