We have wrangled so much with flood insurance and elevation certs, and have come to the conclusion that they are necessary. While the maps may tell you what flood plain the lot is in, it won't tell you what the elevation of the house is. For example, our plat is mostly in the flood plain, but the builder built the house in the highest corner of the lot and brought in fill to raise the house above the flood zone. Sadly, our elevation cert shows this, but now the insurance co wants us to deal directly with FEMA to get them to accept the variance to their maps. We had significant flooding over the week of the Fourth, and was pleased to see how far away the creek stayed from the house. Good thing too as the road was closed in both directions.I think the EC is horribly priced, given that they basically stand at the house with a GPS that marks the elevation, but it could well save you money on the flood insurance. I also am reluctant to buy a place without knowing what flood insurance would be for a new owner, and now insist that the seller provide an elevation certificate. A few years ago we tried to buy a place where the owner paid $300/year on flood insurance but FEMA wanted $6500 from us. More recently we looked at a property where the owners paid $250/year and FEMA wanted $2500+ from us. With the 2012 bill that refunded the National Flood Insurance Program, it was decided that the insurance could gap up 20% per year for existing owners and go up to the new much higher rates upon sale or even sometimes refinance. The NFIP borrowed money to deal with Sandy and is in tough shape. They want to pay off those loans and build an emergency reserve. Fees will only go up.We tried to fight FEMA on the $6500 premium house. Spent 3 months trying. After all, that house had history on it's side, not even filing a claim in the devastating 1985 floods which wiped out many homes. Won't fight that fight again. It can't be won by the sane.I strongly recommend to anyone looking to buy insist on the sellers getting an elevation certificate, or at a minimum inquire about flood insurance for that property. Flood zone maps have changed in recent years and you could be in for a shock if you assume you are going to pay what the sellers are paying. And your property does not have to be on a river or by the shore to require it. For most it should be an easy call, some will have to get an elevation cert to figure it out. Sellers, why not have that info on hand yourself to move the transaction along faster?IP
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