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New state law requires property owners to disclose flood risk to potential buyers

A new state law requires property owners to disclose flooding risk to potentital buyers.
Maine Public
A new state law requires property owners to disclose flooding risk to potentital buyers.

A new state law requires property owners to disclose the flood risk of their homes or businesses to potential buyers.

Judy East, Bureau Director of Resource Information and Land Use Planning for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said the new law passed this month expands the definition of flood risk.

"There's two requirements for disclosure in the bill. One is if they are included in the special hazard area as mapped by FEMA. The other is if there has been a flooding event on their property, and the reason for that is that now, more than ever before, there is flooding occurring outside of those special flood hazard areas," East said.

She said the burden is on the property owner to disclose if they are in a FEMA special hazard area and if they have experienced flooding from a natural event like a storm surge while they have owned the property.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency only considers historical events in its mapping and is releasing new digital maps for York and Cumberland Counties this summer and updating its flood management ordinances for municipalities. The digital maps will be much more accurate than prior paper versions, East said.

"It's buildings along the coastline that will see properties being added to the flood zone, and properties inland that will be coming out of the flood zone, as the flood hazard areas are being mapped to the new two foot contours," she said.

The new law goes into effect this summer. Maine joins 35 other states who have similar laws.

The Maine Floodplain Management Program will offer training to realtors after July 1 to ensure they know what's required by the new law.

If you're a property owner, realtor or municipality with questions about the new law and FEMA mapping, contact Maine Floodplain Management Program.

The best online map to use to check your property's flood risk is the FEMA map.

Note the new digital maps aren't available until this summer. Any FEMA map dated prior to 2002 may not be accurate.