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Homebuyers set to be better protected from flood risk

This week, Storm Desmond has left devastation in its wake. Once again, the nation’s attention is drawn to the threat flooding poses to their home. 

With 5.2 million homes at risk of flooding, according to Landmark Information Group, many estate agents at some point in their career have seen property transactions fall through due to the potential risk of flooding being revealed in searches.  

But how are the conveyancing industry and Government working to help reassure and better protect homebuyers?

The consequences of flooding clearly can be devastating for homeowners but for many, despite searches revealing there is a risk, it may not happen and they could be withdrawing their offer unnecessarily on their perfect home. 

Homebuyers need to be informed of any risk so they can ensure they are properly protected; just in case.  But, over the years, home owners have faced insurance premiums skyrocketing, or worse, have found they are unable to insure their property against the risk of flood.  Understandably this is when property transactions fall through. 

However, the industry and the Government have been collaborating to address the risks and now much progress has been made. 

Last month, the affordable flood insurance scheme for residential homes, Flood Re, was approved by the Government, resulting in the UK Floods Minister, Rory Stewart, signing regulations to enact Flood Re. 

The scheme, which is scheduled to come into force in April 2016, will ensure at-risk homeowners across the UK will be provided with affordable flood insurance. 

The new Flood Re system will impose a fixed premium geared to council tax bands, limit the excess and cover content and buildings insurance. 

Despite some residential properties not being eligible for Flood Re, such as homes built after  January 1 2009, buy-to-let properties and blocks of residential flats, many thousands of homeowners are set to significantly benefit from the more accessible and affordable insurance.

In addition, there has been a growing focus within the industry to improve the transparency and quality of information for homebuyers prior to their purchase. 

Last month, The Association of British Insurers (ABI) called for more upfront information on areas of risk such as flooding to be provided on property search websites. 

There is clearly a demand for this information, with the ABI revealing that 9 out of 10 homebuyers support the idea. 

Already homebuyers are far more aware of the range of electronic data that is available in order to give them a more rounded view of potential risks relating to a property. 

In response, the conveyancing search industry is rapidly innovating, responding to the growing need for transparency, by developing products that are streamlined and more user-friendly for both the conveyancing profession and homebuyer who can have access to easy-to-use and comprehensive digital reports. 

At SearchFlow we have recently launched Landmark Information Group’s RiskView Residential which is essentially a cost effective and time saving report that highlights any issues associated with all environmental searches in one slim-lined document. 

It enables conveyancers to confidently fulfil their due diligence with speed and efficiency but is designed in a format that can be shared with homebuyers. 

With the searches industry gearing itself to presenting information in this way it will help conveyancers offer a more transparent and improved service, reducing their time spent updating their clients but also help estate agents reduce their time spent chasing for updates. 

With an industry-wide drive to enhance transparency and awareness for homebuyers, products now available that can help conveyancers achieve their due diligence with speed and efficiency, and the added reassurance that homebuyer’s insurance will be capped, the conveyancing industry is in the best shape ever to help home buyers weather all storms.

*Maud Rousseau is Marketing and Communications Director of search provider SearchFlow

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