A Guide to Flood Elevation Certificates, Part 1

In my last article, we learned how to read the LSU AgCenter’s FEMA Flood Maps to determine with some accuracy our flood risk.  The Base Flood Elevation and the Ground Elevation numbers were key components in that analysis. Today I am presenting a guide to Flood Elevation Certificates that will go over how to read a certificate and provide an overview of the different elements described in it.

I chose the example below from a previous listing that was on piers, i.e. it had a crawlspace.  The buyer was using a 100% RD loan in which case the home has to be at or above the BFE to qualify for the loan. This will be important in my next article about how building diagrams affect the final outcome of deals, but for now we will stick to the basics.   I will explain each numbered item below.

Flood Elevation Certificate Example (click to open in a new window)

  1. Section B6 – This date says which Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) was used for this certificate.  Not all areas get new maps at the same time.  This is how seemingly close areas move in and out of flood zones or are rated differently depending on the age of the map and any changes among them.
  2. Section B8 – the all-important Flood Zone Classification.
  3. Section B9 – This is the Base Flood Elevation. In this example it is at 92.6′.  Remember this for later.
  4. Section B10 – This is where they got the BFE from, in this case a FIRM.
  5. Section C2.a – Remember the ground elevation number from my previous article? For homes on a slab, this number should be very close to it, as it it is the elevation of the first floor of the home at 91.3′.  You would compare this number , i.e. the height of the first floor, to the BFE to find out the difference above or below the BFE the home is.  This combined with the Flood Zone Classification will determine your flood rate/mortgage eligibility 90% of the time. This example though has a crawlspace underneath the home, so this number is not the first floor of the home (see below).
  6. Section C2.b – For homes on piers or are elevated otherwise, this number represents the true first floor of the home – homes on a slab would just say “N/A” in this box.  In our example here, it is at 93.6′
  7. Section C2.e – This is the height of outdoor home equipment like A/C compressors, water heaters that may be in garages, etc.  The A/C compressor here is at 92.0′

If this home were on a slab, it would not qualify for a RD loan because it is 1.3′ below the BFE and the insurance rate would be higher.  But since it is on piers you would think, “The first floor at 93.6′ is 1 foot above the BFE of 92.6′ so the home should qualify for the buyer’s RD loan.” Wrong.   Elevated homes have other factors to determine eligibility that lenders and insurance raters look at  – namely the type of building diagram, and the number and total area of flood openings under the home.

On Monday I will explain these two other important factors.  I will also show how we took this seemingly dead deal and were able to manipulate it into a closed sale fully financed with RD and a ~$400/yr flood insurance rate for the new buyer!

David R. Madaffari, Realtor
Keller Williams Realty – First Choice
Office: 225.744.0044
Cell: 225.772.3283 (DAVE)
37325 Market Place Dr. Ste D
Prairieville, LA 70769
Each office independently owned and operated

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