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USA - New report quantifies the costs of buying a home that has previously flooded

Buying a property that has a history of flooding can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

Americans take a lot of factors into consideration before buying a new home: Is it in a good school district, how many bathrooms does it have, does it have good bones? New research shows people should also be asking about their home’s flood history, because the wrong answer could be costly.

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, shows that people who buy homes with a history of flooding in three U.S. states — North Carolina, New Jersey, and New York — can expect to pay tens of thousands more dollars in flood damages over the course of their mortgage than the average homeowner.

The solution for prospective homebuyers appears to be straightforward: Make sure you take a look at the property’s flood history before signing your name on the dotted line. But in most U.S. states, including North Carolina and New Jersey, state laws don’t require sellers to disclose whether a home has flooded in the past. In New York, such a requirement exists, but sellers can bypass it by paying a $500 fee.

Millions of Americans are likely making what is typically the biggest and most important purchase of their lives without the relevant information they need to make an informed decision. “It can be financially ruinous,” Joel Scata, an attorney at NRDC, told Grist.

The premise that a home that has flooded in the past could flood again and cost a homeowner money down the line isn’t particularly novel, Scata pointed out. But the report, conducted by the consulting firm Millman, highlights just how much money, on average, flood-prone homes cost Americans. The study looked at those costs as they stand right now and what they’ll look like in the future as the planet continues to warm and the impacts of climate change worsen.

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