A new real estate rule took effect on Monday that requires anyone selling their home in North Carolina to disclose information about previous flooding incidents to potential buyers.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission finalized the rule in March and it now appears on the Residential Property And Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement form. Property owners are required to fill out the disclosure statement prior to any purchase offer. 

Some of the flood-related questions ask owners about property damage caused by flooding, whether the owner has ever filed a claim for flood damage to the property with any insurance provider, and whether there is a current flood insurance policy covering the property.

North Carolina is the fourth state to take steps this year to provide increased transparency about a property’s flood history and flood risk. Flood disclosure reforms prioritizing homebuyer transparency have also been seen in South Carolina, New Jersey, and New York.

Because of the minimal previous requirements, the National Resources Defense Council scored North Carolina an inadequate “D” rating for the state’s flood risk disclosure rules.  

Southern Environmental Law Center, a left-leaning litigation group that opposes energy infrastructure projects in the Southeast, filed a petition in 2022 on behalf of many organizations, including the North Carolina Justice Center, pushing to add flood-related questions to the real estate disclosure form. The groups advocated for upfront transparency about flood risks and said it would save homeowners money in the long run.

“Home buyers cannot be expected to make good decisions if they are denied information,” said Joel Scata, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Providing potential home buyers with information about a home’s flood risk is crucial for ensuring buyers can take appropriate steps to mitigate flood damages, including purchasing flood insurance.”

Officials with the Southern Environmental Law Center and NRDC, one of the wealthiest and most powerful environmental activist groups in the nation, pointed to climate change and said the risk of flooding is growing as sea levels rise and heavy rainstorms become more common. Experts contest such claims. Even so, according to InfluenceWatch, both environmentalist groups oppose the use of the cleanest and most reliable source of energy, when compared to fossil-fuels — zero-carbon nuclear energy.

FEMA suggested federal legislation earlier this year to establish certain minimum flood-risk reporting requirements for sellers. The federal regulation would require states to heed the guidelines in order to continue participating in the National Flood Insurance Program, the Washington Post reported.

While the Midwest currently faces flooding problems, North Carolina continues to face abnormally dry conditions. The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council urges implementing drought response actions as many parts of the state have gone weeks without significant rainfall.