One thing many new homeowners overlook is whether or not their potential new home is in a flood zone. Many probably don’t even know what that term, “flood zone”, actually means and how it affects them. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has a list of varying designations for different levels of flood risk. A flood zone, in general, is a geographic area that FEMA defines as falling into one of those risk levels. Every home has a risk of flooding, but some of low risk, like houses on hills, and others are high risk.

Many of the FEMA designations for flood zones are based on the idea of a 100 year flood, or a flood event that has a 1% chance of happening in any given year. They are also referred to as a 1% flood. An even more rare type of flood is a 500 year flood, which has a 0.2% chance of happening in any given year. You can find flood maps for your community, and the one you may want to move to, at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center ( More information about flood maps is also available at

So what do you need to do if you happen to be in a flood zone? Depending on the risk level in your area, you will most likely want, or need, to buy flood insurance. In fact, if you are buying with a government backed mortgage, flood insurance will be required. Even if the home you want to buy is in a low- to moderate risk area, flood insurance is a good idea. Over 20% of insurance claims come from those areas. If you are building a new home, knowing the risk level may impact how you and your architect design the house. Stilts may be a better idea than a basement if you live on a river, for instance.

Your lending professional will have top-rated advice, and likely be able to provide more information about insurance policies to look into as you go forward with purchasing your new home. While it is a  good idea to investigate things like the history of weather and flooding in your prospective new community, remember that with a little extra precaution, just about anywhere can be a safe environment for you and your family.