In June 2016 parts of West Virginia saw historic flooding. Areas affected included Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mondore, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers, and Webster counties. While the Eastern Panhandle counties were largely spared, there are lessons and takeaways we can learn from as these communities recover and rebuild. After the initial cleanup, residents often find that their property values take a hit and it can take years to recover, not to mention the personal costs, both tangible and non-tangible. Frequently there are spikes in mortgage defaults and foreclosures after a natural disaster, and those properties often have significant repairs to attend to. So what can you do to protect your investment or rehab a property to make it marketable when you live in a flood zone?

Before You Buy

If you are looking to purchase an investment property the smartest thing you can do in advance is to look at history:

  • FloodTools.com is an interactive site that allows you to enter an address and get up-to-date information about the area’s flood plains, history of flooding, and even show you nearby potential flood hazards such as levees and dams. The tool also allows you to add overlays and satellite views to get a full picture of the property’s potential risk.
  • After entering your address, the site will bring up the local Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and give you an idea of what you can expect. While this one is a little more difficult to interpret, it does give you very useful information and can help you best decide the kinds of improvements would be most beneficial to the property.
  • Check area flood zone status regularly – development can change the flood zone designation because of changes to the topography, etc.
  • Find out if the property you are interested in has a buried fuel tank anywhere. This is huge. Old tanks in a flood can be dangerous for both humans and the environment. Learn what to do with your underground storage tank here.

Prepping the Property For a Best-Case Scenario

A few things you can add to the property to enhance your investment:

  • Determine the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for the property. Base Flood Elevation, according to FEMA, is “the computed elevation to which flood waters are anticipated to rise during the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood event.” Learn more about Base Flood Elevation.
  • Locate a contractor familiar with flood-level design. For example, circuit breakers, switches, and wiring should be at least one foot above BFE. The right contractor can help ensure this happens.
  • If the property has a fuel tank in the basement, anchor it, and place all the filling and ventilation tubes up high.
  • Invest in a sump pump.

Protect Your Investment

Taking the time to assess the area, making improvements to the property to help mitigate potential flood damage, and putting certain structural protections in place can have far-reaching benefits for marketing and selling the property, and benefit the new owners long after the property is sold.

Local Market Experts

Prime Location Realty’s REO Division specializes in the marketing and sale of REO properties. We’re here to keep your West Virginia real estate assets moving. Contact us today!