Guide

30 facts and statistics about flooding and the UK property market

The UK housing market is in a continuous state of flux. And while external factors like economic inflation, interest rates, and the ever-growing British population all play a role in that, sometimes unpredictable elements can also see house prices chop and change on a whim.

With a mortgage to pay, a family to support, and a host of other responsibilities, it can be easy to overlook the potential impact and danger of a sudden flash flood. For homes located near rivers, lakes, and coastal regions, torrential rain can leave you with irreversible property damage.

But just how much does this impact your chances of a sale, as well as the wider market? In this statistical breakdown, we’re going to look at 30 groundbreaking facts about flooding and UK homes.

Chapter 1

30 facts about flooding and the UK property market

Only 11,000 of those are built in areas which are deemed to be of high-risk

No. 1

1 in 6 UK buildings are at risk of flooding

While it might seem hard to believe, as many as one in six buildings in the UK are at risk of flooding. That’s as many as 236,000 buildings (roughly 15% of the national total) which find themselves in an area which is susceptible to a sudden water surge. That might sound a little scary, but only 11,000 of those are built in areas which are deemed to be of high-risk or above (meaning they have a 1% or higher chance of flooding in any given year).

The immense scale of damage that a flood can cause also can’t be overlooked

No. 2

The annual cost of flood damages is an estimated £1bn

The immense scale of damage that a flood can cause also can’t be overlooked. Entire floorboards will often need to be removed, while upholstery, furniture, and most wooden fittings will most likely have to be replaced. This results in a staggering £1bn annual cost for households across the UK, as they look to return their homes to a place where they’re habitable again.

Properties in “very high risk” areas see 31.3% struck off their asking price

No. 3

An 8.14% reduction on flood risk properties

Kicking things off with what is perhaps the most telling statistic of all, houses that find themselves in high flood risk areas will on average see an 8.14% reduction in their total value. The total numbers correlate with the level of risk involved – with properties located in areas which have been deemed as a “very high risk” seeing a whopping 31.3% being struck off their asking price.

This phenomenon is referred to as “climate gentrification”

No. 4

Price growth in high risk zones is 50% worse

In addition to that, the rate of growth in areas where floods are predicted to be higher is significantly worse than unaffected regions. Research from the University of Loughborough shows that home prices have risen at a 50% slower pace in areas where the chances of a flash flood are heightened. This phenomenon is referred to as “climate gentrification”.

No. 5

Semi-detached and terraced houses are more at risk

Houses which are categorised as either semi-detached or terraced are more prone to the adverse effects of a flood. This is a result of the reliance that they have on neighbouring properties to also effectively prepare against any potential risks. Prevention measures such as reinforcing windows, doors, vents, and pipes might not be possible if attached neighbours are resistant to the renovations.

Despite the clear setbacks, houses in flood zone areas continue to sell

No. 6

£50.3bn worth of property was sold across flood zones in 2022

The encouraging news is that despite the clear setbacks, houses in flood zone areas continue to sell. Figures have been healthy for both commercial and residential properties across recent years, with as much as £50.3bn worth of property selling in 2022 alone. Despite how healthy this figure is, it was actually a step back on the numbers from 2021 – when sales reached as high as £72.2bn in flood zone areas.

The Flood Re scheme made it possible for households to cut their premiums in half in 80% of circumstances

No. 7

1 in 6 UK buildings are at risk of flooding

Understanding the need for protection, the UK Government introduced the Flood Re scheme in 2016. This gave insurers the chance to pass on the flood-risk element of their policy to the reinsurer, at a lower fixed price. As a result, Flood Re made it possible for households in flood risk areas to cut their premiums in half in 80% of circumstances.

With more insurers willing to offer a home insurance policies, the buying market has taken a sharp turn in the right direction

No. 8

Flood Re increases property value by over £4,000

As well as the amazing benefit which homeowners receive from sliced monthly premiums, Flood Re has been shown to improve the average price of a property by £4,083 when they’re located in a flood zone area. With more insurers willing to offer a home insurance policy on these properties, the buying market has taken a sharp turn in the right direction.

No. 9

Total property value rises by £212.3m a year with Flood Re

In addition to that, the total annual rise in property value for buildings with Flood Re was a very healthy £212.3m (under the assumption that only 1% of these properties are flooded annually). If flood risks were to rise, the effect of Flood Re on property value would do the same. That means that the plan keeps house prices stable and steady.

Flood Re system also experienced a significant increase in the amount of transactions

No. 10

Flood Re properties are 3.6% more likely to sell than those without protection

Buildings which have the protection plan in place have 3.6% more chance to sell than those without – even if they’ve already experienced flooding in the past. Another survey found that homes that used the Flood Re system also experienced a significant increase in the amount of transactions that happened in an affected area.

As much as £1.69bn safeguarded against thanks to the insurance tack-on

No. 11

Property level flood risk to set to increase by 8% between 2050 and 2080

And Flood Re could be more important than ever, if reports regarding climate change are accurate. It’s estimated that some time between 2050 and 2080, the risk of potential flood occurring at a property is set to soar by 8% across the board. That could mean as much as £1.69bn safeguarded against thanks to the insurance tack-on.

Of the 597 people surveyed, 28.3% said they had some form of anxiety

No. 12

Owners of a flooded home have a 6x higher likelihood of mental health issues

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the impact that a flood can have on a home, it’s been found that those who’ve experienced one have a six times higher chance of developing mental health issues. The specific conditions tested for were probable depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of the 597 people surveyed, 28.3% said they had some form of anxiety, while as many as 36.2% experienced PTSD.

No. 13

The average home costs £4,500 to repair after a flood

Broken down on a home-by-home basis, that equates to £4,500 for every property. And that’s a conservative estimate. The Association of British Insurers trade body actually estimates that it could be closer to £33,600 per house. Worryingly, as many as 28% of homeowners are unsure whether their insurance policy actually covers them for flood damage.

Wales is the top spot in that regard, with an average repair fee of £9,700

No. 14

In London it costs nearly £10,000

If you live in the capital, expect the lower end of that estimate to more than double. Owing to higher cost of labour and price of locally sourced materials, the cost of repair after a flood can reach as high as £9,100. Surprisingly, this isn’t actually where costs reach their peak. Wales is the top spot in that regard, with an average repair fee of £9,700.

When it comes to flooding, it’s already having a huge impact on the British economy

No. 15

Climate change-related damages cost the UK approximately 1.1% of UK GDP

Climate change is something which makes us all feel uneasy. And when it comes to flooding, it’s already having a huge impact on the British economy. Damages caused as a result of climate change are said to cost the UK as much as 1.1% of its annual GDP. That’s a staggering figure, when you consider the total GDP was as high as £2.2tn in 2022.

Global reinsurance costs have already spiked by over 40%

No. 16

That’s forecasted to rise to 3.3% by 2050

That figure is set to rise higher in the coming decades. Figures show that by 2050, the UK could expect to sacrifice as much as 3.3% of all GDP to fighting the effects of climate change. Global reinsurance costs have already spiked by over 40%, with the price of repair skyrocketing across the world.

23% of the same homeowners surveyed said they had not checked to see if they lived in a high-risk flood area

No. 17

67% of homeowners are scared of the impact of climate change

Given the impact it’s likely to have, it’s no surprise that a lot of homeowners are concerned about the effects of climate change. A recent survey found as many as 67% of respondents are worried that flooding will become more of a problem in the future as a result of the wider state of the planet. Despite that, as many as 23% of the same homeowners surveyed said they had not checked to see if they lived in a high-risk flood area.

No. 18

70,000 to 120,000 homes were built in flood-prone areas in England from 2009 to 2020

And despite the risks, somewhere between 70,000 to 120,000 new homes were constructed in areas which could flood between 2009 to 2020. The key to minimising the total cost to the British economy will be for more housing projects to be located in areas where flooding is less likely to be a concern.

To alleviate the cost of repairs is for households to put preventative measures in place

No. 19

It can cost close to £1,500 to flood proof a home

An obvious step to take to alleviate the cost of repairs is for households to put preventative measures in place. And while these are often effective, they don’t come without an upfront cost. Evidence shows that in some of the areas where rainfall is heaviest in Britain, it can cost as much as £1,404 (Burnley), £1,468 (Bolton), or £1,472 (Glasgow) to effectively proof a home against a flood.

As much as £800m of this goes towards coastal defences alone

No. 20

Flood prevention costs the UK £2.2bn every year

In total, that figure can rise to a cumulative £2.2bn a year across the country as a whole. As much as £800m of this goes towards coastal defences alone. Written down, the numbers are mind-blowing, and speak volumes about the continued efforts needed to ensure that homes stay in a liveable condition after a sudden disaster.

236,121 (14.4%) commercial properties are located in an area deemed to be of significant risk

No. 21

27% of commercial properties have at least a low flood risk

It’s not just regular households who feel the brunt of flooding, either. It’s theorised that as many as 27% of all commercial properties in the UK have at least a low risk of experiencing a flood. That accounts for as many as 436,447 buildings in total. Of these, as many as 236,121 (14.4%) are located in an area deemed to be of significant risk.

55% of buildings which flooded had to have their stock needing replacing

No. 22

Stock loss is at the forefront of the issue

One of the biggest issues that commercial properties face is the loss of stock and produce as a result of a flood. 55% of buildings which flooded had to have their stock needing replacing. A further 48% experienced a period of closure as a result, 49% needed to be electrically rewired, and 26% were closed for an elongated period of time, impacting the success of the business as a whole.

No. 23

Just 38% of businesses have a flood insurance plan

Despite the fact that as many as 57% of SMEs believe climate change will have an impact on their business in the next ten years, just 38% have a dedicated flood insurance plan in place. Adding to that, less than a fifth (just 18%) have carried out any flood prevention measures to protect themselves. A lack of understanding and inadequate resources are the forefront of the hesitation. 27% of business owners said they’d want to understand more about their options before taking action, while 18% want some form of incentive to help subsidise the cost of prevention measures.

18% of those surveyed also said that their home is now considered to be “flood-prone”

No. 24

Weather-related insurance claims have risen by 58% since 2020

Now sitting at around £39,000 in total payouts, it’s been reported that weather-related insurance claims have experienced a steep hike of 58% since 2020 alone. Worryingly for homeowners, as many of 18% of those surveyed also said that their home is now considered to be “flood-prone”, despite not being so when they initially made the purchase. The figures heighten the emphasis on the need to have protective flood prevention measures in place.

While they understand the potential risks, it just isn’t in their existing budget to be able to prepare their homes for the worst

No. 25

41% of homeowners think they could do more to protect their homes

Despite that, as many as 41% of those spoken to think they could do more to protect their homes against flooding. While they understand the potential risks, it just isn’t in their existing budget to be able to prepare their homes for the worst.

41.6% of those surveyed said saving their pet would be a priority

No. 26

Most people would choose to save their pet first

We all love our little furry companions. For most of us, they’re an extended member of the family. So it’s probably no great surprise then that as many as 41.6% of those surveyed said saving their pet would be a priority in the event of a flood at home. The next most popular item was a laptop or phone (38.24%), followed by important household documents (32.93%), and photographs (29.56%).

Properties with a 1% risk of flooding or higher saw a 0.16% decrease in price in the least expensive bracket

No. 27

Buyers of less expensive properties are more sensitive to flooding

Trends would indicate that those purchasing cheaper properties are more sensitive to the risks of a flood. Properties with a 1% risk of flooding or higher saw just a 0.1% decrease in price for homes in the most expensive quartile, while those in the least expensive bracket decreased by 0.16%. Interestingly, houses in the median bracket were directly in the middle of this, sitting at 0.13%.

No. 28

Cornwall could lose as many as 69,000 homes by 2040

Widely recognised as one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Cornwall runs the risk of losing a huge proportion of homes by the year 2040. A total of 69,000 houses will be at risk by that point, which equates to as many as 1 in 4 families being displaced in some way. This disproportionate figure comes as a result of the county’s proximity to the coast.

43% said that they pictured polar bears when thinking about the impact of climate change

No. 29

The UK risks losing a total of 167 million homes in 20 years

In total, 167 million houses are anticipated to be lost by that same point across the entirety of the UK. Interestingly, despite the imminent threat, most people polled (43%) said that they pictured polar bears when thinking about the impact of climate change, rather than humans (who just 10% considered when it came to the environmental impact).

13-18% of all properties in these regions are in a high-risk flood zone

No. 30

East Anglia, the North West and Yorkshire are most at risk

Houses found in East Anglia, the North West and Yorkshire have the highest risk of being impacted by a flood. This is as a result of their proximity to large bodies of water, as well as the fact that homes in these areas tend to be more frequently semi-detached or terraced. As many as 13-18% of all properties in these regions are in a high-risk flood zone.

Chapter 2

Flooding at home – understanding what you can do

The numbers can sometimes make for bleak reading. But the good news is there’s still lots you can do to protect your home, or even recover from a flood if you do fall victim to one. Let’s now explore how a flood might impact a property, what can be done to stop it from doing so, and what to do in the event that your home has become waterlogged.

Impact of flooding on a home

A flood can have a variety of impacts on a home, from lowering its potential value, to causing long-term issues which will need regular assessment and maintenance. Here are some of the most notable impacts which can be caused.

Property damage

Perhaps most obviously of all, a flood will have a huge impact in terms of the wide scale damage that will be done to a home. The floor and floorboards, water heater, HVAC system, stairs, and walls can all be damaged, while mould, staining, and rusting are all common side-effects which can impact your house for a long time.

Safety issues

Some of the damage done can leave a home with long-term issues that compromise safety levels. Electrical units might short-circuit as a result of water damage. The structural damage done to walls and stairs can cause cracks which inevitably result in collapses. Standing water can also spread disease, with mould, bacteria, and even insects thriving in such conditions. In some instances, drinking water might also become affected. 

Financial impact

Naturally, the cost of repairs (without insurance) are going to stack up. If you’re unable to fully renovate the home after a flood, it will also have an impact on the total value of the property. What’s more, houses that are situated in high-risk flood zones are likely to appreciate in value at a slower rate than those located outside of these areas.

The emotional impact

When a disaster occurs at home, it’s easier to look at the obvious physical impact, rather than the internal battle a lot of people have to process. Whether it’s trauma as a result of lost possessions, anxiety about suddenly feeling unsafe in your home, or PTSD triggered by the experience itself, a flood can leave someone with a long-lasting psychological hangover.

How to protect your home from flooding

Thankfully, even if you’re living in a high-risk area, there are steps you can take to greatly reduce the impact which a flood could have on your home. These preventative measures won’t totally negate the potential damage, but they do serve to lessen the potential devaluation. Some of the best practical steps to take include:

Placing permeable surfaces over driveways and pathways

Placing fridges, freezers, washing machines, and other white goods on raised plinths

Replacing the bottom two steps of your home with concrete blocks

Installing flood barriers where possible to the outside of your house

Installing lightweight doors with rising butt hinges

Using ceramic tiles on the ground floor with waterproof adhesive and using rugs instead of fitted carpets

Fitting stainless steel, plastic, or solid wood kitchens

Installing a pump to remove water

Fitting non-return valves to all drains and water inlet pipes which only let water flow one way

Ensuring your boiler is installed on the upper floor of the home

Moving your vehicles as high above ground as possible

Advice for recovering from a flood at home

If you do find yourself the victim of a flood, all hope is not lost. There are steps you can take – both immediately, and in the long-term – to help get yourself back on the right path. For those who have experienced a flood at home, make sure to follow this advice:

Contact your insurance company

If you’re fortunate enough to have flood insurance in place on your home, you can reach out to your policy provider for help. Not everyone will have this in place. If that’s the case for you, you can instead contact the National Flood Forum for the best advice on how to move forward.

Return home only when safe

Even if you’re feeling particularly homesick, it’s important to only return to your house once you know it’s definitely safe to do so. You can reach out to the local emergency services for an answer to this question.

Reach out to a local flood action warden

If flooding has been a serious issue across a wide part of the region, it’s likely your local council will have set up a “flood hub”. Contact this area, or even visit it in person. You may also have a dedicated flood warden who’ll be able to support you and let you know the next best steps.

Leave cleaning your home to the professionals

While it might be tempting to dive into the restoration of your home, you’ll want to leave a lot of the repair work to experienced workers. Flood water often contains harmful substances, while the structural integrity of the home itself is likely to be compromised. Make sure to take photos of the home before you carry out any repairs if you’re looking to make an insurance claim.

Get help and support

The Environment Agency has specially trained Flood Support Officers across the country. They’ll be able to provide clear and concise instruction as to how to best deal with floods both during and after they happen. Call Floodline (24-hour service) on 0345 988 1188 or type-talk (for the hard of hearing) on 0345 602 6340.

Chapter 3

Useful links

We’ve discussed a lot of relevant information about managing a flood, as well as the impact that water damage can have on a home. If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between flooding and the UK property market, be sure to check out these handy secondary resources: