Why do so many people buy or build houses in flood prone areas?
In SoCal we have a problem with huge mudslides in areas prone to flooding. It happens usually right after a forest fire, which is a regular problem here. Yet developers keep building and people keep moving into areas where they're vulnerable. New Orleans is another example. Why?
As a real estate broker, I ask myself the same question. What I have learned about the mindset of some people is that they just don't believe a destructive flood will happen to them.
Homes in flood prone areas are usually less expensive. Builders purchase the land so cheaply that they can afford to build and sell below general market prices. Sellers want to sell, and while they must disclose that the home is in a flood zone area, sales agents tend to downplay this negative aspect of the location. While looking for a home for myself in southern California, I heard one agent say, "Oh, we haven't had a major flood in this area in two decades." People rely on salespeople. Luckily, I didn't buy in that area, because two years later, I read about a major flood that could have been my home.
Buyers have such a desire to buy a home of their own, they tend to ignore certain facts. A lot of times, people rely on official warnings that will allow them time to get out of harm's way. People generally don't think the flood is going to be as bad as it could be. I had clients who moved to California from New Orleans. What they told me was that they never thought the flood would be as bad as it was. They expect floods each year, but they never expect it to be so bad that they can't recover.
If a major flood has occured in an area, people tend to have peace of mind that a flood of the same magnitude is not likely to happen again soon. It's a mindset. They believe that after major disasters, the city puts measures in place to "assure" that the people are protected from such future disasters.
I just read an interesting analysis of New Orleans. The US Army Corps of Engineers builds and maintains dams and levies, or there wouldn't be a New Orleans. The river is trying to change directions and they won't let it, so now the delta is dying.
Beats me too. Or those tornado zones.
Just saw a news segment about the big one for California last night. There's so many places with extreme natural events in the U.S.
Because the property is generally cheaper. I worked in real estate, and the homes for sale that were on river banks were actually significantly cheaper than the ones on higher ground.
Those purchasing property in flood plains should consider investing in flood insurance.
Those building should consider stilts. Just like beach houses are typically built on stilts, I wonder why homes in flood plains are not. Additionally, bricks are more popular to build with in the tornado zones. I guess people just don't see floods enough to worry about them.
People usually buy real estate from emotion rather than logic. A beautiful river view is hard to resist, especially in nice dry weather. They often just hope the river will never overflow. Also, National flood insurance is cheap, another stupid way the federal government encourages bad behavior. It's just like asking why people bought homes they couldn't afford: answer - Fannie and Freddie told them they could do it.
Some people choose to be uninformed. Some are absolutely oblivious as to flood zones, if asked they couldn't tell you which zone their property is located in. Others, fall in love with a home or a location and refuse to part ways.
I'm all for living where you choose when YOU foot the bill however, there are people who live in these zones without insurance. Others have a rebuild or repairs subsidized by the federal government, even those that may be able to pay out of pocket! Even John Stossel has said that he received this government subsidy when his expensive beach home was damaged/destroyed.
As for New Orleans, I asked the same question after hearing so many people describe the landscape as a depression surrounded by water.
I don't know about other areas, but after helping out with the recovery efforts after Katrina and Rita, I think a lot of people moved back to New Orleans because it is land that has been in their family for many generations. The history of the land is very important to some people.
For others, it is the only land that they can afford.
Personally, I'm glad that people moved back to New Orleans. There is just so much history there and it is a great city.
I'm sure other people would say the same thing about other places, also.
Thanks everyone. I'm writing a few hubs about managing watersheds and you've given me some food for thought here. Some of your thoughts went into the hub I just wrote about drainage basins and home buying (although I'm not satisfied with the title). If you have better idea for a title, let me know.
I would like to suggest you to www.refusedhouseinsurance.com for more information about flood area insurance. It will be helpful to you before purchasing house in flood area.
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