What You Need to Know About Land in Florida

Have you ever thought about buying land in Florida, but are concerned about flooding? Or worried about buying wetlands? Are you now thinking, what are wetlands? Please keep reading, it could save you thousands of dollars and total heartbreak.

If you’re planning on buying land in Florida, you need to know a couple things - specifically the concerns about flood zones. We buy a lot of land in Florida, and you shouldn’t let flood zones scare you off from investing and buying land there. 

It’s just like buying land anywhere else, you need to do your research on the lot before you buy. Every state has natural concerns you need to be weary of. If you’re up in the north east and you buy a secluded lot, you may not be able to access it during the winter months, and if you’re in the gulf coast states you need be weary of hurricanes. If you’re in middle America you probably need to be cautious about tornados. There’s something to watch for in every state and season. That’s why due diligence and research on a property before you buy it is so important.

So for buying land in Florida, flood zones, wetlands, and floodways are something to be aware of. Whenever we sell lots in this state that’s always a question we get and information we gladly share on the property. 

Of course, everyone knows that technically the entire state of Florida is a flood zone, because it’s located below sea level. Obviously there are areas that get more water than others, but in a lot of Florida you’re going to experience standing water after a heavy rainfall. So buying land that’s in a designated flood zone isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.  

Let’s look at wetlands first. Wetlands are a marsh or swamp-like ecosystem, where the soil is always covered by water. Have you ever heard the saying God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands? 

DutchWindmills

The Netherlands is below sea level, almost all of it could be wetlands, but the Dutch are constantly pumping water moving water back to the ocean. This will be your life if you try to build on wetlands in Florida. You will constantly be fighting back water, and it will be very expensive to mitigate that water elsewhere.  

You also have to watch out for damaging existing wells by building on wetlands, you would have to get special permits from the county, it’s a lot of work. Unless you are head over heels in love with the property, we don’t recommend buying property designated as wetlands.

You can check on the US Fish and Wildlife Service website map with the address of the property to see if it’s in a wetlands - click here for the mapper.

Flood zones are different. Flood zones are described by the 1% annual chance of flooding or a 1 in a 100 year flood. There are different zones as described by FEMA. Zone X has the lowest level of risk for flooding, whereas properties in Zone A or Zone AE are considered to have a high risk of flooding. 

You can easily check on county GIS maps or on the FEMA Flood map to see which zone the property is in. It’s not a terrible thing to buy land in a flood zone, because that’s technically all of Florida. Just know what zone you’re in because it’s easier to get insurance for low risk flood zones than for high risk flood zones.

The final water related issue we’re going to go over is regulatory floodways. Floodways describes the water course and the adjacent lands that must be preserved to help mitigate flood water and keep the water from reaching a certain height. What does this mean? Bottom line: it is extremely difficult to get the approval to build or modify regulatory floodways and the land included in that. 

You would need special permits, and engineering consultation, and more often than not, structures are not allowed to be placed in a floodway area. Plus the insurance would be incredibly expensive because if there is a surge in flood water, it’s going to be at the floodways first. So floodway land should definitely be avoided, if possible. 

To sum everything up, a floodway is not your ideal case, we avoid buying this type of property. A wetland is a marsh or swamp-like environment, not impossible to build on, but you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life, like the Dutch systems in the Netherlands.

And finally, flood zones. Which are not a complete turn-off, you just need to be aware of which zone you are in and what that means for insurance policies. These 3 issues are pretty important in Florida. You can easily find all this information by doing your due diligence before you purchase a property. 

When you purchase a property through Compass Land, we do all this due diligence for you. So you don’t have to worry about it. 

Have you ever purchased wetlands? Was it on purpose or accidental? Leave a comment below and let me know how it worked out for you!