How Floodwater is Impacting Fort Worth Real Estate

How Floodwater is Impacting Fort Worth Real Estate

Unprecedented rainfall and problematic stormwater-drainage systems, along with tremendous growth in recent years, have created somewhat of a perfect storm for property owners, developers, Realtors and the City of Fort Worth. For decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided the science and technical expertise to identify and map floodways and floodplains to clearly show areas in which there are risks of flooding.

About a year ago, the city’s Stormwater Management Department began reaching out to community stakeholders to ask if and how the city should formulate policy outlining how property owners might be made aware of “flood prone” areas not on the FEMA maps, especially on tracts less than an acre in size.

Happening throughout this spring are discussions led by city staff among property owners and real estate professionals. The Society of Commercial REALTORS and Greater Fort Worth Association of REALTORS continue to have dialogue with engineers, real estate transaction specialists, title lawyers, lenders, insurance agents and the Tarrant Appraisal District to best determine how to balance concerns as policies and guidelines are drafted to address potential flooding risks.

Such a broad, unprecedented policy can have unintended consequences. Designating areas outside of the FEMA-designated floodplains can have an adverse effect on property values, increasing the cost of owning and/or developing in these areas. It also has not been clear how property can be removed from a Flood Hazard Area or Area of Potential High Water if the designation is unwarranted. 

Characterizing property as a local FHA or APHW based on an asserted risk, even though it is outside the FEMA floodplain and may have never actually flooded, creates a transfer of liability from the city onto property owners and commercial and residential real estate practitioners.

The policy under discussion could lead to the city adopting more stringent stormwater regulations — resulting in an increase of stormwater management impact fees on new development. Moreover, such a policy could negatively impact home and commercial property values.

SCR urges stakeholders and the city’s leadership to consider the costs of implementing and enforcing any new policy centered on FHA or APHW properties. According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in a study on a local floodplain policy, “most research has found that the costs of regulation outweigh the benefits by a substantial margin.” To understand fully the implications of such policies really demands a full cost-benefit analysis by the city.

Rather than devote resources to the administration of new regulations, SCR urges the city to focus on correcting stormwater issues through improved maintenance of our existing system and fixing infrastructure deficiencies that are warranted.

We encourage all property owners in Fort Worth to participate in this process so that when any policy recommendations come forward in late summer or early fall, they will be based in fact and be balanced for owners, buyers, sellers and their representatives.

Our collective goal doesn’t vary from the goals of every property owner in Fort Worth — to make our community the best place in the country to live, work and own property.