Insurers are calling for flood risk information to be made available when homes are put on the market.
Meanwhile, estate agents in flood-hit areas are warning that local house prices will be hit and some properties be virtually unsellable.
According to the Land Registry, house prices in Cockermouth are down by a quarter in the last ten years.
The Cumbrian town has been flooded three times since 2005, while in the same period average house prices rose by a quarter – suggesting that home owners in Cockermouth are sitting on heavy losses.
The RICS says that house prices in flood-hit areas do recover their value, but that it takes three years on average.
According to a story in the Guardian, large homes in the part of Carlisle which flooded last month, have started coming on the market at 60% of their November values.
Agent Simon Brown, of Tiffen & Co, said he does not expect any houses in affected roads to sell soon, unless they are offered at a large discount.
He said one property that would have sold for over £270,000 in November was on the market for £170,000 in its flood-damaged state, with the owner unable to face going through the drying process.
Brown told the Guardian: “You can always sell a home if the price is cheap enough, but there must be a growing fear that those in the affected streets will never see their pre-flood values ever again.”
Many agents have pulled out the stops to help those made homeless by the latest floods, working tirelessly to get them into rental homes as quickly as possible and in many cases waiving fees.
Some agents themselves have been affected.
Glenn Ackroyd, of EweMove, said: “One of my houses that I own and rent out has five feet of water in it.
“The tenant was evacuated by tractor and they’re secure with family.
“They love the house and I’ve promised they can go back but it will need a complete refurb and the initial estimate is £25,000.
“One of our friends is a letting agent in Sowerby Bridge. Her house was flooded and car submerged – she waded out with her cat in her rucksack and her dog swam its way out.
“We’ve offered to put her up in our home.
“We’ve got five lets available and I’ve offered them as priority to flood victims with all tenant and admin fees waived.”
He paid tribute to local people, saying: “Bad things happen but the positive is the amazing community spirit that kicks in.”
The director of EweMove in York, Nick Neill, said: “I have recently sold a property affected by flooding in Wilberfoss from the 2007 floods. Of course buyers and lenders are wary at first but if they have confidence that flood defences have been improved and the risk is being managed, they will still want to go ahead and buy, as folk do love to live by the river.
“If they fall in love with a house, they will rationalise away the flood risk and go ahead and purchase, which is fairly normal when people are looking for their next dream home.
“I let a few flats to the latest flood-affected victims this week as their homes were under water and they have no regrets about living where they do and gave no hint of wanting to sell.”
Glynis Frew, managing director of York-headquartered Hunters, said she expected prices to wane in the short term, but added that it was too early to tell how transactions might be affected.
She said: “A critical evaluation and reworking of flood warning measures, protocol and defences is required if we are to mitigate such happenings in future.”
Meanwhile, the Association of British Insurers wants a ‘traffic light’ warning system to appear on property particulars and on portal listings.
It says that no property search website features flood risk information, despite having a wide range of other data, including school catchments areas to local crime rates and the most commonly read newspapers in that location.
The ABI says its most recent survey of 2,000 adults found that nine out of ten people agreed that flood risk information should be included when properties are put up for sale.
Huw Evans, ABI director general, said: “At the moment, information on whether a property is at risk of flooding comes too late, often when people have already invested hundreds if not thousands of pounds in the conveyancing process.
“That’s why we are calling for those who sell properties to include new traffic light warnings on flood risk in a property’s area.
“You can currently get more information about what paper your new neighbours might read than if a particular property might be at flood risk.”
The ABI wants to work with estate agents and property portals to ensure flood risk information is made available to home buyers.
Just a thought – should it take a look at what Consumer Protection Regulations say first?