Selling a House in a Floodplain

Flood Zone Variances and Insurance Basics for TN

Are you thinking about selling a house in a floodplain in Tennessee? If so, this is not an easy task. There are tons of things to consider, especially regarding the potential risk of home flooding and how to get a home buyer interested in taking on a property with this risk.

You’ll need to understand the flood zone rules for Tennessee if you’re planning on selling a house in a floodplain. You’ll need to attract buyers who are fine with paying for the relevant flood insurance policy as well. 

Luckily, in this guide, you will learn all about flood zone rules, the National Flood Insurance Program, possible home improvements you can make to reduce the risk of flooding, and other ways to sell your property in a floodplain. Now, let’s get started!

Flood Zone Variances and Insurance Basics for TN

You might find it difficult to sell your home if it’s located in a flood zone. During the sales process, homeowners should know about their particular flood zone variances. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a map where you can check your flood risk zone. If you’re in a high-risk area, your flood zone designation should start with a code of A or V.

Those with a moderate risk of flooding are in either Zone B or shaded Zone X. If your home sits in Zone C or unshaded Zone X, then you have a very minimal risk of flooding. FEMA also manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Most homeowners who live in flood zones throughout Tennessee purchase a flood insurance policy through this program.

About The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The cost of flood insurance or your total flood insurance premium is negligible when considering how much you will save with coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. 

In Tennessee, if your home floods but you have insurance through NFIP, you will have building coverage for up to $250,000 for flood damage and up to $100,000 in belongings coverage for single to four-family residences, according to a FEMA press release.

The National Flood Insurance Program in Tennessee is responsible for regulating development in the floodplains. Communities at risk of floods implement ordinances that outline the regulations and requirements for proper floodplain management and development.

Flood Zone Rules and Laws in Tennessee

You can find the different flood zones on a FEMA flood map, which covers certain floodplains and potential risks based on alphabetically listed flood zones.

Zone A is the most common and is a high-risk flood zone. Zone B has a moderate risk, Zone C has minimal risk, and Zone D only has a possible flooding risk. 

In Tennessee, flood zone rules entail how much the flood insurance policies would cost depending on the particular flood zone a property is located in. These zones can change on the FEMA map depending on weather-related variations. This means someone at a low-risk flood zone could end up at a higher risk on the map the following year.  

However, NFIP does have a grandfathering rule where eligible policyholders can hold onto their previous Flood Zone for rating purposes after a map changes. This grandfathering rule applies when the property was built to comply with a prior version of the FEMA map or if the policyholder kept a continuous flood insurance policy.

Flood Zones in Memphis

Typical homeowners insurance usually does not cover flood or water damage. As such, for properties in Memphis, you’ll need a home buyer who is willing to buy flood insurance coverage based on the house’s designated flood zone. The city of Memphis has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since 1982.

Memphis has specific flood zones that homeowners can check on the FEMA map. This city has had 17,342 buildings with a larger than 26 percent risk of severe flooding over the following 30 years. As such, 7 percent of all properties in Memphis are at moderate risk of flooding.

Getting Elevation and Certification

An elevation certificate will state a residence’s location, flood zone, the lowest point of elevation, and other key information. This certification helps with figuring out flood insurance rates in flood-prone areas and enforcing local building ordinances.

If your residence is in a high-risk flooding zone, then a homeowner will need an elevation certificate from FEMA before purchasing a flood insurance policy. This certificate exhibits how the home’s elevation compares to the base flood elevation level. 

As a home seller, you should provide the home buyer with the property’s elevation certificate once the sale closes.

Flood Zone Declaration to Potential Buyers

When selling a home in a floodplain to potential buyers, the sellers need to declare that the house is in a flood zone. A flood zone declaration involves a summary of the information within a flood insurance policy. Further, 29 states do require you to provide some flood disclosure before selling a property.

When selling a home in a flood zone, there are two main options you can take, which are:

  • Sell traditionally after making home improvements
  • Sell your place to a cash home buyer in an “as-is” condition 

If you plan to sell traditionally, assess how much damage your home underwent if it flooded and fix any issues to reduce flooding risk.

Home Improvements to Reduce Flooding Risk

After assessing any potential flood damage, you’ll need to consider whether someone can still live on this property. If the home is livable, then you should know that selling it will still be difficult and the cost of the home will drop.

A realtor may help you sell a house that needs repairs, but your house price will decline even further due to the real estate agent’s commission fee. House repairs may help with the sale.

Typical home improvements to decrease flooding risk include sealing your foundation and basement walls, installing flood vents and a pump, and preventing sewer backups with drain plugs. 

Ways to Sell a House in a Floodplain

If you’re selling traditionally, add the straightforward way to get a flood insurance policy to your advertising materials. Outline positives like not having to make any claims to the flood insurers. 

You can also provide a home buyer with covering the cost of the first year’s flood insurance premium. You can also sell your home to cash buyers in an “as-is” condition or other companies that buy houses in Memphis for cash. 

sell a house in a floodplain to a cash home buyer

Selling to Cash Home Buyers

If you are selling your house online, look for cash home buyers willing to purchase your home without requiring any repairs. Luckily, we buy houses in Tennessee so you can work with us to find a great cash home buyer.

A cash home buyer will pay cash for the residence without needing to manage the requirements of a mortgage lender. 

Selling Your Home at a Lower Price

However, if you are selling a home in a flood-prone area to a real estate investor or cash home buyer, you will need to lower the price of the sale. If you want to get the best possible price, then look for multiple investors and choose the highest price offered. 

Make sure to research how reliable a real estate investor is before choosing the final cash home buyer.


If you’re selling a Tennessee house in a floodplain, you will need to find buyers willing to purchase a flood insurance policy. Potential buyers need to be aware of the flood zone the property is located in. Lastly, you can perform home improvements to reduce the flooding risk.

If you want to sell your home in an “as-is” condition, then you should find cash home buyers.

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