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Call for estate agents to include flood risk key in property ads

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The insurance industry is urging estate agents and property websites to provide up-front information about flood risk using a traffic-light warning system.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is calling on property sellers to include a flood risk warning system in a similar style to Energy Performance Certificates.

It comes after research found that fewer than one in three people researched the flood risk of a property before buying their home.

In fact, homebuyers were more likely to have looked at the ease of parking in the area and how much they’d spend on council tax than whether their property could be at risk from flooding.

As one in six homes in England and Wales is estimated to be at risk of flooding from either rivers, the sea or surface water, potential buyers need to have this information upfront.

How would it work?

Currently in England and Wales, flood risk information based on your postcode is freely available via online maps from the Environment Agency and Natural Resource Wales.

However information about a high flood risk may only be uncovered during property searches as a house purchase is being processed. This information can come once someone has already spent hundreds of pounds on surveys and solicitors’ fees.

The ABI said each estate agent brochure and online property advert would carry a symbol marked red, amber or green to indicate the possible level of flood risk on each property advert, based on this postcode-wide information.

Househunters considering a property with an amber or red symbol should investigate the specific property they are interested in. This could include paying for a full flood risk report, investigating any flood defences which are in place or due to be built, and finding out whether there are protection measures installed at the property or whether they could be put in.

The ABI said that marketing materials for new build properties would also be expected to use the same symbols.

‘Glaring omission which needs to be put right’

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: “Flooding is a growing threat that as a nation we have to adapt to living with. As the floods of last winter reminded us, being flooded is horribly traumatic and can leave people out of their home or business for months. Anyone whose property is at flood risk needs to be aware of that so they can take steps to protect themselves.

“Property advertisements carry a wealth of information on everything from local schools to a property’s energy efficiency rating. Easily available information about the flood risk of the area is a glaring omission which needs to be put right.”

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