How to Gauge Your Property’s Flood Risk by Using Free Flood Maps [Video!]

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With the recent extreme weather conditions hitting the United States, there is heightened concern among real estate investors about their ability to avoid buying in at-risk areas. Fortunately, FEMA provides a free flood map tool that enables buyers to locate their prospective investment property on a map and determine whether or not it is in a “flood zone.”

Related: The 6 Best Things You Can Do to Prep Your Home for Hurricane Season

Using one of our Houston properties as an example, this video takes you step-by-step through locating a property on a FEMA flood map. Before we purchased it, this property was identified as being likely safe from extreme flooding—a quality observed in practice during the recent Hurricane Harvey, the Tax Day floods of 2016, and the Memorial Day floods of 2015.

How to Locate Your Property on a FEMA Flood Map

Watch this video to learn how to screen investment properties for flood hazards before the floods hit!

Are any of your properties in high-risk areas? 

Weigh in below.

About Author

Andrew Cushman

After graduating from Texas A&M with a BS in Chemical Engineering, Andrew worked for a large food company in a variety of supervisory positions. During that time, Andrew experimented with a variety of businesses in the hopes of making the jump from W2 employee to entrepreneur. In 2007, Andrew discovered house flipping and left his corporate position to start a business in real estate investment. Starting off with single family properties in the depths of the Great Recession, Andrew completed 27 single family flips in and around Orange and LA county. In 2011, Andrew transitioned to the acquisition and repositioning of multifamily properties, acquiring a mostly vacant 92-unit property on the other side of the country as his first deal. That first property eventually sold for several times its original purchase price, and Andrew now acquires now acquires B-class, value-add properties throughout the Southeast United States. In total, Andrew and his team have acquired and repositioned 1,796 multifamily units to date. In the recent years, he has lent his expertise on a number of notable podcasts, including the BiggerPockets Podcast, Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever with Joe Fairless, EO Fire, Real Estate Rockstars, Apartment Building Investing with Michael Blank, and many more.


  1. Josh Stack

    Hey Andrew,

    Excellent explainer post. I particularly liked the mix up between the online tutorial plus the being there live and in person aspect of you reporting from the bayou.

    One aspect not touched on is the potential change – due to climate induced factors – of what was once being a 500 year flood zone now practically being a higher risk flood zone due to shorter intervals between great floods. If one takes it as a fact that the climate is changing and becoming more extreme and intense, what was once considered a 500 year flood may come at shorter intervals than 500 years.

    Similar to the idea that come earthquake zones expect major quakes every so often but then that period is run past so its expected, statistically, that the ‘big one’ could happen any day.

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