Flood History Website Could Give Buyers a New Tool

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Flood History Website Could Give Buyers a New Tool

A research partnership working with eight universities says its online tool, searchable by address, will offer flood histories and future risk estimates by mid-2020.
NEW YORK – On Jan. 13, First Street Foundation launched Flood Lab, a research partnership that provides eight universities with its model that maps previous instances of flooding as well as future risks.

Using the dataset, the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and others will quantify the impacts of flooding on the U.S. economy.

The data will be made available to the public in the first half of 2020 in an online database searchable by home address. Matthew Eby, executive director of First Street Foundation, says the move could put pressure on prices of homes, municipal bonds and mortgage-backed securities linked to real estate in risk-prone areas.

Currently, insurers, mortgage lenders and investment firms obtain flood risk information from risk modeling firms like AIR Worldwide, CoreLogic and Risk Management Solutions. Verisk estimates that about 62 million American homes have a moderate to severe risk of flooding.

But Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Wharton Risk Center, says Flood Lab could become disruptive in that it would provide data to the average homeowner to help them make the right decision for themselves.

Source: Reuters (01/14/20) Duguid, Kate

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