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Flood Zones and Flood Insurance on the Outer Banks

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Yes! Flood Insurance is available and most of the homes here on the Outer Banks will need a flood insurance policy.

All of the Outer Banks is in some type of flood zone. In fact pretty much everything east of Raleigh is in a flood zone of some sort. Don't panic, it is not as bad as it seems. There are different types of flood zones ranging from areas that flood insurance is not required (low to no premiums) to areas that are dangerously close to being swept away by the ocean (high premiums).

Fortunately, on the Outer Banks all the towns conform to and enforce the construction standards required by FEMA resulting in discounted flood insurance rates for everybody here.

Update 3/24/14 HR 3370 was passed effectively ending the effects of the Bigert-Waters Act. HERE is a copy of the law pointing out exactly what is and isn't regarding flood insurance.

Some rules of thumb to keep in mind while you are looking for a house or lot are:

Elevation

The current regulations require that the first floor of the house to be 9 to 10 feet above sea level. If the ground is low, like most of it is on the Outer Banks, the house should be on an elevated foundation like pilings. An elevated house has minimal flood insurance premiums.

If the ground elevation is 10 feet or higher the Flood Zone will probably be "X". This means a house can sit on or close to the ground and no flood insurance is required.

Age

While the codes are strictly enforced today, there was a time when people were allowed to build right on the ground in low lying areas. If you are looking at a house that is older and looks out of place compared to the new houses, be careful.

Start asking questions about elevation and flood insurance. If the owner does not have flood insurance it could mean you won't need it either unless the current owner does not have a mortgage. Sometimes when people do not have a mortgage on a house they don't carry insurance that is required by lenders.

Sometimes a house that was built too low has reasonably priced flood insurance and a new owner can acquire the same grand fathered policy at the same price. Sometimes this is not permitted by the insurance company.

Topography

Just because the ground level is well above sea level it does not mean that the property won't flood. If there can be lakes on the top of mountains then the shallow lot in the middle the high street can puddle in the rain. If the rain is coming from a tropical storm that puddle can get 1-3 feet deep.

I have seen many houses with water standing around them after a heavy rain fall. You don't want it happening to you. To try to avoid this make sure the driveway and the neighboring properties don't slope down towards the house you are looking at.

There are whole neighborhoods that become submerged from ocean over wash during some of these storms. These areas are best identified by someone with experience.

FEMA Flood Zones

X Zone - your lender will not require flood insurance.

AE Zone - the land is below the required elevation necessary for x zone and the property has a chance of flooding. Houses in these zones will require flood insurance and the structure should be elevated to obtain inexpensive flood insurance. So, if you see a house built on the ground and it is in an AE zone you will probably want to avoid it unless the builder brought in a bunch of fill and elevated the homesite to meet the FEMA requirements.

VE Zone - wave velocity zone usually reserved for ocean front and sound front properties and some adjoining properties.

COBRA Zone - in an effort to restrict dev elopement on the Outer Banks the Federal Government has created a number of parks. These parks carry the COBRA designation which means FEMA Flood insurance is not available. Unfortunately, when they were drawing up the boundaries for the COBRA Zones they inadvertently overlapped some adjoining residential neighborhoods. Properties in the overlapped zones can not get federally backed flood insurance and will require private flood insurance.

Outer Banks Flood Maps Click on the house at the top of the screen and then enter the address of the property.

FEMA Flood Maps

Exclusive Buyer Agency

Signing an exclusive buyer agency agreement/contract sounds like a good idea. Right? Having an agent work for you is a good idea, isn't it? The problem is the agent doesn't work exclusively for you but you will have to work exclusively with the agent... read more.

Out of State Purchases

If you find the property that you would like and are considering buying it but you live out of sate and you have to go back home, don't worry... read more

Rental Rebate

When you buy a house that already has rental reservations, there might have been money collected, and it belongs to you... read more

Home Inspections

We strongly recommend that every buyer have a home inspection done on the house or condo they are trying to purchase before the closing takes place... read more

Rental Agencies

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Beach Access

Just because you are at the beach does not mean that every location is a good one... read more

Ground Floor Enclosures

If there is a ground floor enclosure, you or your real estate agent need to do some investigating... read more

Not Ready Yet

Not quite ready to take the big step? No hurry, just start doing your homework now... read more

Attorneys

The buyer and the seller each need to hire their own attorney... read more

Square Footage

The actual square footage of the houses might not be what is advertised... read more

Earnest Money

When an offer is written on a piece of real estate, one of the items that needs to be addressed is the earnest money... read more

Title Insurance

Title insurance protects your deed against any problems which show up after you make your home purchase... read more

Seasonal Buying Trips

Long distance traveling to look at houses you might consider purchasing requires some planning. Here are a few weather related tips for planning your trip.

Spring This is the time to get your foot in the door and have all of the prepaid rental reservation money refunded to you at closing... read more

Summer Once the the summer vacation season arrives it becomes much harder to look at homes for sale... read more

Fall This is when a seller is in their best position to make a deal... read more

Winter When the cold set in, the Outer Banks becomes deserted and deals can be found... read more

Vendors Information about the various service providers necessary to complete a real estate transaction can be found HERE.

Real Estate Forms For Buying

Here you will find some of the various forms used in purchasing real estate in North Carolina... HERE

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