Research highlights clearer communication of flood risk

New research* from Ashfield Solutions Group revealed the probability of a property being at risk of flooding rises dramatically from 1 in 100 to 1 in 5 if you live there for just 20 years. This provides a fresh insight into the risk of flooding for homeowners and poses the question, are people adequately understanding the long-term nature of flood risk on their property when making their decisions?

Ashfield’s data which considers industry leading flood modelling, including Environment Agency risk bands, uses the annual probability of flooding commonly expressed in flood hazard maps and then considers this risk over the duration of ownership or the mortgage period. For properties in low risk areas the worst event of flood risk is 1 in 99 and for high risk is greater than 1 in 30. This means a low risk property has exposure up to 18% over 20 years or about 1 in 5 and a property in a high flood risk area has a 1 in 2 chance of flooding over the same period.

Recent research from Zoopla has also highlighted that British homeowners are staying in their homes longer reinforcing the need to take a fresh approach to communicating flood risk analysis. Zoopla revealed the average stay to be just under 21 years (20.8 years). This makes it even more important that people understand the immediate and long term flood risk which can affect the value of the property and its insurability as well as placing people at risk.

Buying a house is one of the most important financial decisions made and miscommunication about potential flood risk can be devastating. Many houses, old and new, have been built in areas that are at risk of flooding. It may be obvious for example if a house is on the bank of a river, however there are areas that are not so clear. The rise of more extreme and erratic weather in the UK has led to higher rates of torrential rain and storms causing widespread flooding, particularly from surface water. Earlier this year the impact of Storm Christoph and Darcy were a reminder that flooding affects thousands of UK homes.

Aaron Jones, Director at Ashfield Solutions Group said:

“It’s essential that we look at how flood risks are communicated to homeowners so they can make the best informed decision. Reading our data alongside the results from Zoopla reinforces the importance of identifying and understanding potential risk during the property purchase process so there are no nasty surprises further down the line. Our research shows a different way of looking at it which could influence the decisions people make or at least the level of awareness that take into their decision.

“A search report can make or break a property deal, so it is vital that homeowners are armed with the best analysis possible but that they also understand the implications. It is easy to get cold feet if problems arise, but this can be overcome if a risk can be further explained and understood with a detailed Flood Appraisal. This can potentially downgrade or legitimise any risk initially flagged but will also provide guidance on the potential availability of insurance at that property based upon any outstanding risk. In addition, understanding the likelihood of flooding over the intended period of occupation means that homeowners can consider if they need to invest in any flood resilience measures at their property. Having the knowledge clearly and unambiguously presented can make a real difference and does not always spell disaster for your purchase.”

Ashfield works in partnership with Future Climate Info to provide an enhanced view of where known flood risk exists. Using property specific data from local sources, the team can identify what types of flooding have potentially occurred in the area and how this can impact the insurability and implications of mortgage applications. Ashfield understands speed is of the essence during the home buying process, and that is why every report can be turned around within three working days. In comparison, a traditional flood report may take up to four weeks to complete.

Ashfield’s clear and concise risk evaluation within the FCI Flood Appraisal delivers a powerful combination of data intelligence and expert analysis. Using flood mapping and an experienced consultant’s view can provide an enhanced insight into where flood risk may or may not potentially occur. It is recommended this more in-depth assessment is undertaken when a ‘Further Action’ has been identified within an initial FCI Environmental Search report. This results in the ability to potentially downgrade or further legitimise the Further Action status, with the inclusion of realistic solutions to manage any residual risk that may exist.

*Source Ashfield’s Flood Encounter Probability Calculations

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