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Florida homebuyers are getting more transparency about flood history

For the first time, Florida home sellers will have to disclose certain aspects of a property’s flood history, under legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law this week.

The measure is seen as an important step toward addressing growth and development in risky areas, an issue that has gained prominence since Hurricane Ian dropped historic amounts of rain here in 2022, causing widespread flooding. Ian was the costliest hurricane in state history and third-costliest on record in the United States, after Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017.

Before this law passed, Florida, uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise, precipitation changes and intensifying storms, had been one of 18 states where no flood disclosure was required as part of a home transaction.

By 2045, some $26 billion in residential real estate is poised to face chronic flooding, with Miami, the Florida Keys and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area especially at risk, according to the Union for Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.

“Having the information will help buyers make more informed and better decisions about protecting what is likely to be their single biggest asset, their homes,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director at the Union for Concerned Scientists. “It is an important moment for home buyers.”