Insurers have called for flood risk information to be included on property particulars when homes are put up for sale.
Additionally, estate agents in flood-hit parts of the country have warned that local house prices will be hit and some properties are practically unsellable.
The Land Registry reveals that house prices in Cockermouth have dropped by a quarter in the past decade, while the average UK property price increased by a quarter over the same period. The town in Cumbria has been flooded three times since 2005.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reports that house prices in flood-hit areas do recover in value, but it takes an average of three years.
The Guardian claims that large houses in the part of Carlisle that flooded last month are now coming onto the market at 60% of their values in November.
Tiffen & Co’s Simon Brown does not expect any homes on affected streets to sell soon, unless they are offered at a significant discount.
He says that one property, which would have sold for more than £270,000 in November, is on the market for £170,000 in its flood-damaged state.
He comments: “You can always sell a home if the price is cheap enough, but there must be a growing fear that those in the affected streets will never see their pre-flood values ever again.”1
Estate agents are stepping in to help those made homeless by the floods by getting families into rental accommodation and sometimes cutting fees.
An agent that is also a landlord, Glenn Ackroyd of EweMove, has been hit himself. He says: “One of my houses that I own and rent out has five feet of water in it. The tenant was evacuated by tractor and they’re secure with family. They love the house and I’ve promised they can go back, but it will need a complete refurb and the initial estimate is £25,000.
“One of our friends is a letting agent in Sowerby Bridge. Her house was flooded and car submerged – she waded out with her cat in her rucksack and her dog swam its way out. We’ve offered to put her up in our home.”
He adds: “We’ve got five lets available and I’ve offered them as priority to flood victims with all tenant and admin fees waived.”
He praises the locals: “Bad things happen but the positive is the amazing community spirit that kicks in.”1
The Director of EweMove in York, Nick Neill, explains his experience of the floods: “I have recently sold a property affected by flooding in Wilberfoss from the 2007 floods. Of course buyers and lenders are wary at first but if they have confidence that flood defences have been improved and the risk is being managed, they will still want to go ahead and buy, as folk do love to live by the river.
“If they fall in love with a house, they will rationalise away the flood risk and go ahead and purchase, which is fairly normal when people are looking for their next dream home.”
He continues: “I let a few flats to the latest flood-affected victims this week, as their homes were under water and they have no regrets about living where they do and gave no hint of wanting to sell.”1
The Managing Director of Hunters, whose headquarters are in York, Glynis Frew, expects house prices to decrease in the short term, but believes it is too early to predict how transactions will be affected.
She says: “A critical evaluation and reworking of flood warning measures, protocol and defences is required if we are to mitigate such happenings in future.”1
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is seeking a traffic light system to be included in property particulars and on portal listings.
It notes that no property portal website features flood risk data, despite including a wide range of information, including school catchment areas and the most popular newspapers for every location.
It reports that its most recent survey of 2,000 adults found that nine out of ten people believe that flood risk information should be included for homes on the market.
Director General of the ABI, Huw Evans, comments: “At the moment, information on whether a property is at risk of flooding comes too late, often when people have already invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds in the conveyancing process.
“That’s why we are calling for those who sell properties to include new traffic light warnings on flood risk in a property’s area.
“You can currently get more information about what paper your new neighbours might read than if a particular property might be at flood risk.”1
The ABI hopes to work with estate agents and property portals to make sure this information is available to prospective homebuyers.