Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Advice: Understanding Flood Zones in Wilmington, NC

Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Advice: Understanding Flood Zones in Wilmington, NC

A good portion of real estate in the Wilmington area is located near water sources. It’s one of the things that make properties in this part of the state so popular. But, whether the property you are interested in purchasing is located near the ocean or along the winding waterways, flood insurance has to be one of your considerations before you decide to purchase. Our exclusive buyers agents are highly knowledgeable in the Wilmington, NC flood zone areas with years of experience in helping home buyers negotiate the best terms on a new home.

What is a Flood Zone?

Contrary to belief, every property in the country exists in a flood zone. The difference is whether the land is categorized as a high, moderate, low, or undetermined risk zone. Special flood hazard areas (SFHA) are areas of land that have been identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as having a higher than average risk of experiencing a flood.

High risk food hazard areas are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30 on most flood maps. Properties with these designations have at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. Anyone who buys a home or business in these areas with mortgages from federally-regulated or insured lenders is required by law to purchase flood insurance.

Moderate flood hazard areas, which are labeled on flood maps as Zone B or Zone X (shaded), are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. In areas with these designations, the risk of being flooded is less-likely but not completely removed. Properties purchased in moderate-to-low risk areas are not federally-required to have flood insurance, but it is highly recommended for all property owners and renters.

The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas located higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled on flood maps as Zone C or Zone X (unshaded). Property owners and renters in these areas are also not federally-required to carry flood insurance as the risk level is substantially reduced due to the elevation.

If a property is designated as Zone D on the flood map, then this means that no flood hazard analysis has been conducted in that region. This does not mean that the area is not at risk of experiencing a flood. In fact, property owners who reside in Zone D areas should carry flood insurance due to the uncertainty of the risk.

Where are the Flood Zones in Wilmington?

In Wilmington, any property located near a water source (e.g., creeks, rivers, lakes, ocean), and most properties found on the local islands (Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight Island, Topsail, etc.), are considered to be in moderate-to-high flood zones. However, there are some properties on Pleasure Island and Oak Island that are not in flood hazard zones and a good portion of Kure Beach is also considered low risk due to the area’s higher elevation. In fact, approximately 90% of the properties located in New Hanover County are not located in high risk flood zones despite the abundance of water sources in the area.

Do I Need Flood Insurance?

In most cases, if the property you are interested in purchasing is not located in a high-risk flood hazard zone, your mortgage company will not require you to have flood insurance. But, as stated earlier, every property is considered located in a flood zone, even if it is a low risk area. Because of this, flood insurance can still be purchased (at a reduced rate) for a more comprehensive protection package.

How Does Flood Insurance Affect Home Buying Decisions?

If the property you are interested in is located in a high-risk flood zone, then a flood insurance policy will be required and the cost of your premiums will depend on which zone you are in, the elevation of the lot, and the elevation of the home. For instance, if your new home is located in a high risk SFHA, but it is built to the proper elevation on pilings (with no enclosed areas below), then flood insurance will still be required, but the policy will usually be substantially less expensive than a home that is situated on ground level.

The cost of flood insurance is expected to rise, however, especially once the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act is officially implemented. This bill was designed to help close a $25 billion deficit in the federal government’s flood insurance program by cutting subsidies, but Congress has made some changes to the legislature that have temporarily delayed the passing of the bill.

Confused About Flood Zones? A Just For Buyer Exclusive Buyer’s Agent Can Help

Flood insurance can be confusing, especially for first time home buyers looking to purchase in the Wilmington area. If you want to know more about flood zones in Wilmington NC or you are looking for an agent with your interests in mind, then a Just For Buyers Realty exclusive buyer’s agent can help. Just give our home buyer’s agency a call today at 910-444-2851. One of our licensed exclusive buyer’s agents will be glad to help you find the property that meets your needs and budget.