Flood Zones

I have just started getting my first few responses to my mail campaign in Arizona. Every parcel so far has been located in a Zone A flood zone. I am wondering if these are essentially worthless or if anyone has any experience working with flood zones in the Southwestern US. As an inexperienced land investor, I am very leery about making offers on these types of properties. I have one motivated seller that I believe I could pay next to $0 for 2 acres. Taxes are about $150/yr. Seems low risk apart from the flood zone aspect.

Per FEMA -
Zone A
Areas subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event generally determined using approximate methodologies. Because detailed hydraulic analyses have not been performed, no Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) or flood depths are shown. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements and floodplain management standards apply.

I would look at the lay of the land and actual map elevations, flood or topo, and estimate how likely the lot (and access to it) is to sustain flood damage and prolonged high water levels. A broad, flat arroyo may flash flood and be dry by the next day. A parcel on a rise adjacent to the arroyo may be Zone A but pose little real flood risk.

The Zone maps are large areas and within those areas some spots are more likely, and others less likely, to sustain and maintain high water levels. Some of the risk can be mitigated with design and construction materials and methods. Living space over a garage or car port with a concrete slab?

I might become enamored with a ‘boots’ property. Less likely with a ‘chest waders’ or ‘air boat’ property.

1 Like

@isaakberry I wouldn’t sweat a Zone A flood property. It’s not great news, but it’s not a deal breaker by a long shot.

It might cause a bit more concern if the property is right in the middle of a wash-out area (basically, where a seasonal river will form as water floods down a mountain), but even that would probably be more severe than the 100-year flood plain.

1 Like

@donyost Thanks for the insight. That was originally my thought too. My concern was selling the property later and having to explain that to the buyer if they planned to build on it.