Relocating... Wise Investment? (New Orleans: for sale, real estate, homeowners insurance)
New OrleansNew Orleans - Metairie - Kenner metro area
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I have spent years researching and thinking about the perfect city for me to relocate to and and thankfully, I'm getting pretty close to making a decision. I want to move South, I want somewhat close access to the beach (within a few hours drive) and I want culture, diversity and architecture among a million other little things on my wish list :-) Savannah and New Orleans are at the top of my list since they both contain the natural beauty I'm looking for. The main perk of Savannah would be the Ocean.
However... I am also pursuing a goal of owning a home and I have real questions about doing that in New Orleans given flooding potential. I'm not someone who's dreaming about investing in real estate from a money-making standpoint, but rather from a deep desire to make a home and feel rooted. I place a lot of stock in the dream of creating a home and settling into it for the long haul (decorating, gardening etc.) I don't want to naively purchase a home at some point in NOLA without researching the real risks involved with home ownership in an area prone to flooding.
My problem is that I don't know who I can really ask for an unbiased opinion on these matters since I don't know anyone in the area and realized that many real estate agents etc. will downplay the risks? I haven't heard how well the infrastructure (levies etc.) have been "repaired" after K, or any of the long term risks due to the city's being under sea level etc. I also don't know how insurance works in places with extreme flooding potential since I've never lived so close to water before. Is it possible to get insurance that will truly cover adverse weather damage and know that if your home didn't make it through well, you could be fully protected? Would this be unattainable price-wise for someone with a modest income? What should I look for when looking at homes for sale as far as ones that might be safer in hurricanes and flood situations? My gut says, New Orleans is filled with old houses that are standing today, so many people's investments (material and emotional if you will) must be able to withstand almost anything. But a lot also lost everything too I realize during Katrina.
I'm sure this all sounds naive (because it is) and I acknowledge that. I am just trying to make an informed decision as possible, and I of course DO realize that any location has it's risk as far as weather damage goes. I'm simply reaching out to start building a base of knowledge about the subject.
The feds have a National Flood Insurance program with reasonable rates. Can't tell what they currently are as I've been gone a long time. I would look to the areas that did NOT flood during Katrina as being safer but recognize that nothing is ever truly safe. Some of the flooded areas now have houses built on a ground level reinforced structure so the house itself sits anywhere from 6 to 12 ft. up. Not for me as I don't do stairs and your car would still flood if you stayed (and you would be a fool to not leave when told to!).
A local that's lived through the trial and tribulations, so here's the straight and narrow, good and bad as I see it.
Flood insurance is rated by letters, X I believe being the good zone, basically you wont flood from a strong rain storm or most likely a cat 1 or 2 storm. Around 300 dollars a year for 200,000 coverage, the zone I live in.
Homeowners insurance, wind and hail damage, fire ect. is crazy high going from 800 a year pre Katrina to around 3,000 a year with a 10% deductable for named storms. Yep, I've got a 180,000 dollar policy and the first 18,000 of wind and hail damage is mine for a named stormGreat coverage and only 3,000 a year
Insurance company's and Mortgage company's are vary crooked, more so than ya'll ever know(unless you lived threw Katrina) so these coverages are basicaly only guesses, your results will vary.
A CAT 3 or better, that hits just right, and it's game over, course the flood insurance, being federaly backed will pay the amounts no questions asked. Course ya'll have to survive till the payments are payed which will take a while, a lot of New Orleans folks keep a large full size 4 door pickup on hand for such evacuations. Feel like a New Orleans homeowner yet? WHO DAT
If you live St. Charles Ave. to the river...you aren't likely to flood (and not that it really matters but that part of the old city is above sea level). As is much of Esplanade Ave. And Rampart St to the river.
PLUS flood defenses are a thousand times better than they were before K.
I look at it like this...if it was habitable 100 plus years ago, its good enough for me now.
I would agree that, IF you can afford it, you should find a home Uptown or on one of the ridges- the dry areas mentioned in the post above me.
On the other hand, I live in an A flood zone (very, very bad- my house got 8 feet of water in Katrina) and I have I think $40,000 in coverage (it's a condo so don't need more) and it only costs $300 a year. Flood insurance really isn't that bad, as it's a federal program, but as mentioned above it's the wind coverage from commercial insurers that will really put a dent in your wallet.
Homeowners insurance is going to be high, that’s just the way it is. However, flood insurance is a cost you have some control over. The flood zone maps can be a little misleading, though. To get that low flood insurance rate, you either need to be in a "no flood zone" (X or B), or have your lowest floor be above the Base Flood Elevation. For example, if the map says +2, then the lowest floor of your house needs to be at or above 2 ft. They will discount your insurance even more if for every foot you are above that “line”. You can enter an address here to see what zone it is in: https://msc.fema.gov/webapp/wcs/stor...0001&langId=-1
If you want to be safe from a possible hurricane/levee breach, just look at the Katrina flooding satellite image. http://www.katrina.noaa.gov/maps/ima...08-31-2005.jpg
The water line is roughly 3ft above sea level. Look at the real estate between that line and the Mississippi River. This is the old part of town, the part of the city that was inhabited long before hurricane protection levees and is more than 3ft above sea level. It’s hardly “game over” if you live in this area. You’ll still have some wind to worry about, but the likelihood of a raised house flooding (sitting on ground that is already 3ft above sea level) is pretty remote. The one exception to this is the Holy Cross area to the east of the Industrial Canal which is much more exposed to storm surge and did in fact flood after Katrina.
Street flooding from rain is an entirely different issue. I’m referring to 1-2ft of water making streets impassable, not water invading houses. Most, older houses are raised off the ground 3-4ft, so it’s not an issue for your residence. We usually have a good deluge that causes problems about once a year. Again, it’s a little tricky. Some areas that are 5ft above sea level flood relatively easily in a light rain where as some other areas that may be 3ft below sea level never have an issue. It’s all the result of minor topographic undulations throughout the city as well has drainage capacity in certain area. Those of us that live here know the problem areas and can advise you on where you can stay dry.
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