Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

First Street Releases Flood Factor Tool

On June 29, 2020, the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group, released an online flood risk visualization tool enabling homeowners to obtain comprehensive flood risk information specific to their property.  First Street joins a growing number of third-party flood mapping services leveraging the latest science and technology to meet the consumer demand for flood data but is the first to offer this information at the individual property level across the continental U.S. and free of charge to the consumer.

NAR supports efforts to provide more granular and accurate flood risk assessment tools to augment FEMA maps and support the full transparency and disclosure of flood risk. FEMA has acknowledged that credible tools like First Street’s are needed to educate consumers particularly where its maps are not up-to-date or do not exist. A key strategic priority for NAR is to retain the REALTORS®’ role as the best source of property information; and there are few data points about real estate with greater potential financial implications than flooding.

While NAR is not in a position to evaluate or endorse one flood risk tool over another, NAR does note that First Street’s has been vetted by more than 80 world-renown scientists and incorporates the input of NAR committee members to ensure the information is presented factually, most useful to consumers and offers an opportunity for homeowner appeal when more recent, precise or site-specific survey becomes available.

NAR has developed a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Sheet to assist members in fielding questions from current and prospective clients about the First Street tool. In short,

  • Please share the facts that flooding can occur anywhere and many property owners not on FEMA’s maps can benefit from flood insurance, and refer clients to their insurance agent if they have questions.
  • Avoid making statements beyond your license and training or discouraging buyer and seller clients from considering flood insurance or reviewing multiple sources of flood risk information.
  • You may also simply hand the client this brochure, which NAR developed in collaboration with FEMA.
  • If any user has an issue or question about their property, neighborhood, city, county, or state, he or she can submit a question through First Street’s online Help Center.
  • Watch this video to learn more about flood disclosures and your duties as a REALTOR® under NAR’s Code of Ethics.

NAR will continue to work with First Street, FEMA and others to develop, build on and refine their flood mapping tools so more property owners and buyers can understand their true risk and make better informed decisions.

Advertisement