LEE COUNTY, Fla. — A newly developed website, floodfactor.com allows you to see your home’s risk of flooding now and well into the future.
Just click here to see your home’s flood risk.
We spoke with the founder and CEO of Matthew Eby of First Street Foundation which created the site to find out more for you.
Below is a transcript with some highlights of our conversation.
MATTHEW EBY/FOUNDER & CEO OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: In Florida right now, there are about a million properties that have substantial flood risk on an annualized basis. Meaning they are projected to have damage to the home from flooding. And that's increasing as the climate change risk is increasing over the next 30 years. So it's not only that there are a million homes today, it's that risk continues to grow.
WFTX: Some of our viewers - their eyes glaze over when they hear climate change- that phrase you know- but they're very well aware of what the real estate marking is doing and what their hopes are for the economy. How do you see that connection to make it practical for people?
MATTHEW EBY/FOUNDER & CEO OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: With the data we just released, you can see what the financial risk is for your specific home. At FloodFactor.com, you can type in your address, your neighborhood, your city and found the exact risk details for your area, and how it will change into the future, so you can be the most prepared.
WFTX: What is your hope by providing this information on FloodFactor.com?
MATTHEW EBY/FOUNDER & CEO OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION Really what we want every American of their flood risk today and into the future. But really the data doesn't exist. There's a symmetry of knowledge where smart institutional investors that have access to capital and tools like there are able to make really wise informed decisions, where your average American just doesn't have access to that data.
WFTX: What are some things that catch your attention when you look at Southwest Florida.
MATTHEW EBY/CEO & FOUNDER OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: If you're looking for places like Charlotte County there are about 68,000 homes that have financial risk from flooding today. And that grows over time. So today we see it on average about $10,00 for those specific high-risk homes. And that'll grow to about $17,000 a year 30 years from now. So when you look at the growing risk over time,* there's a direct impact to the home value because as risk grows and financial risk grows, people who are looking at the property, in the future for other people to purchase it, they are going to consider this. And that's going to have an impact on home value. We see similar numbers in collier county, with 32,000 properties, or in Lee county 121,000 properties. All showing similar things, where they have average annualized risk today in the thousands of dollars. And the potential to almost double in the next 30 years. Which are going to have big financial impacts to those homes.
WFTX: Do see the kind of preparation and mitigation to make sure these homes are spared the worst of any flooding and maintain their value?
MATTHEW EBY/CEO & FOUNDER OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: In Florida, it's a really tricky question whether there's been enough done to protect against flood risk. And really it's because it's built on porous limestone, as water levels rise, it's not really a thing you can just build a big sea wall around.
WFTX: It can be staggering to look at that and throw up your hands and say, "Why would anyone live in SWFL" when you see that coming down the pike?
MATTHEW EBY/CEO & FOUNDER OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: That's an interesting question, why are people living here? Well, it's beautiful and the weather is great and you're near the water, and that's a luxury some people are willing to put some more risk against. So if I do know that I have a certain risk of flooding today and it's growing but I want to be in this location, and I love the home, and I love the weather, the smartest thing you can do is prepare for it.
WFTX: You mentioned flood insurance premiums (which are set by FEMA through the National Flood Insurance Program) might change for new policies that are written?
MATTHEW EBY/CEO & FOUNDER OF FIRST STREET FOUNDATION: So come October 1st, they're going to roll out individual home risk pricing versus what we look at today which is a flood hazard area. if you've heard that term, so a zone-based approach which says, "If you're in this, area you have to buy this insurance based on a zone risk and if you're outside of it you don't need to buy flood insurance because your risk is low from the FEMA models." What they're actually doing now is saying based on your individual risk you're going to have a pay a price that's commensurate with the risk. And most importantly the structure value. Today, you would have to pay a certain price for the flood insurance which doesn't take into account the structure value.
(An additional thing to consider: If you are an existing flood insurance policyholder, you can expect FEMA to start calculating your adjusted premium rate in April of 2022.)