Monday, April 28, 2014

Waterfront Living Can Be a Dream, With Preparation and Knowledge

Waterfront living!  A dream for many homeowners.  However, as demonstrated by recent flooding in the Midland and Sanford areas, waterfront living does come with potential challenges and risks.  One of those risks is the potential for property or home flooding.  “Homeowners should be aware of the possibility that even if their home is not in sight of the river or lake, the elevation it sits at could lend itself to being in a flood zone,” said Shelley Park Cluff, owner and Broker of Park Place Homes Real Estate in Midland. 

A home that is listed in the 100 year flood plain (or less), is required by mortgage lenders to carry flood insurance.  In the past, this was based on the value of the home and would approximately double the annual cost of home owner’s insurance. 

In order to protect new homeowners, this year President Obama signed into law the Flood Insurance Relief Law, which repealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) authority to dramatically increase rates when a property is sold, a proposition made by FEMA in 2013 in order to recoup rising expenses.  The new legislation caps the increase at 18% annually on new homes, and 25% annually on older homes.  “Even with the potential of 18% - 25% annual increases upon home sale, this is still a savings as compared to what FEMA had proposed,” said Park.

In order to assess flood insurance potential, the website has a quick and easy tool to search properties and assess your risk.  “This is helpful if you are shopping for a new home and need to estimate annual insurance expenses,” said Park. “No one wants to be surprised by learning about expensive flood insurance requirements after their purchase offer has been accepted.”

Another valuable tool is GIS mapping, which shows where the flood maps are in the city of Midland, and some local townships.  On the map, users can follow the flood zones to see how close they come to their current or prospective homes. 

“Also check out where your home stands with a LOMA letter, formally known as a Letter of Map Amendment,” said Park.  “If your property is listed in the flood plain, but the structure is not, it is possible to hire a site engineer to conduct an elevation survey to exempt your home from requiring flood insurance.  This cost is approximately $600-$800, but worth the savings.”

An elevation survey can also potentially reduce required flood insurance premiums.  “Essentially, every inch matters,” said Park.  “A difference of just a few inches can mean the difference of hundreds of dollars a year in your flood insurance premium.”  It is worth making sure the data supplied by FEMA, which is estimated, is proper so you are not over charged.

If your property or home was recently flooded, visit the Midland County Department of Health website at for instructions regarding treatment of wells, septics and homes. For more information about flood insurance assessments on your current or prospective home, contact Shelley Park Cluff at 989-698-1100 or

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