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1.7 million homes at risk from flooding, warns RICS

It says that the effect of flooding risk on house prices is not solely related to the science-based predictions of researchers and government bodies, or even insurers, but more crucially linked to the perception of risk by locally based professionals and members of the public.

The RICS report is based on the results of a survey of valuers across the country. Their responses indicate a wide range of opinions even amongst those working in the same property market. On average, however, most valuers said they would mark down a property subject to flooding by about 12% to 15%, but some suggested a figure of up to 40%.

David Brooks, flooding specialist surveyor and RICS spokesman, says: “Valuations will depend on market perceptions of how long it will take to sell vulnerable properties, how much they are likely to be in demand, and how easy it is for people to insure them and secure a mortgage.

“Obviously, individuality and desirability are key factors. If someone puts a particularly picturesque cottage on the market it may be that the buyer will overlook the fact that it is on the river bank, or may even pay a premium for that location if that is what they specifically want.”

Report recommendations:

• The public need access to more information on flooding so that they can assess the vulnerability of their individual homes

• People living in an at risk property should seek professional advice about how to minimise the impact of a future flood

• All professionals involved in the home buying and selling process should be made responsible for highlighting any flood risk potential to prospective buyers

• Pressure must be put on the government to expand its current policy of strengthening flood defences and increasing effectiveness of flood warning mechanisms

• Insurers, mortgagors, surveyors and government agencies must continue to work together to ensure that flood risk cover is available to all homeowners, wherever commercially possible.

The report concludes that flood risk is a growing problem for the UK housing market. The two primary causes are climate change, resulting in increased severity and intensity of rainfall, and new developments on floodplains, which are themselves at risk of flooding, and which increase the risk of flooding downstream.

It reveals that 1.5% of the country is at risk from direct flooding from the sea. And about 7% of the country is likely to flood at least once every 100 years from rivers. Some 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties worth over £200bn are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England, and many more properties are also at risk from flash floods.

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