CoStar image has become the first major home listings site to integrate a flood risk map into each property in its database.

The new feature, called “Flood Factor” and developed by the nonprofit research group First Street Foundation, gives properties a score of 1 to 10 representing the cumulative flood risk over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency already maintains flood risk maps, which are used to set requirements for homeowners to purchase flood insurance, but critics have noted the maps badly underestimate the actual risk of flooding for many properties.

Extensive First Street research published last year had identified many properties in Massachusetts at risk of climate change-caused flooding, which is forecasted to get worse in Massachusetts as the world has been unable to reduce its use of fossil fuels, raising sea levels and increasing the severity of storms. First Street’s model also incorporates local initiatives to adapt to climate change and includes many areas not currently mapped by FEMA’s flood insurance maps. The assessment includes four types of flooding events: riverine, rainfall, storm surge and tidal sources.

“Historically, determining a property’s flood risk was an onerous process – in some cases, potential buyers would have no idea a property was in a flood zone until it was flagged by the mortgage company prior to closing, or in some cases not at all,” Senior Vice President of Product Leslie Jordan said in a statement. “By surfacing this information upfront, consumers can avoid surprises and have all the information they need to make informed decisions and feel confident about the home buying process.”

The announcement comes as Hurricane Laura rapidly gained strength on Wednesday, forecast to become an “extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane” when it strikes Texas and Louisiana. Officials on the Gulf Coast have implored coastal residents to flee before it’s too late. The storm comes hot on the heels of tropical storm Marco, a history-making” occurrence of multiple severe storms hitting the same region within days of each other.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Becomes First Listings Site to Map Flood Risk

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 1 min