Selling Your Home? Why You're Required to Provide an NHD Report In California

Written by Will Caldwell

Selling your home can become quite a headache if you don’t have all your ducks in a row, and when it comes to providing all the correct paperwork it could seem like your ducks all just waddle off in tandem and leave you stranded.

That being said, the potential buyer of a new home could find themselves under even more pressure. They are about to fork out a bunch of their hard earned savings to buy a home that they are going to live in for the next few years at least and they have to make sure that they aren’t buying a soon-to-be fossil.

It would be quite the fiasco if you sell your home to someone else and within a week there is a wild-fire that ends up burning the place to the ground. Or perhaps a flash flood due to a hurricane or heavy, torrential rains that sweeps through and leaves a dam where the living room used to be due to the fact that your home is built in a flood hazard area. If the buyer wasn’t made aware of this fact then you could be held liable.

So what do you, as the seller, need to provide the potential buyer with that will ensure they are fully aware of all the nitty gritty details of the home they are about to purchase?

It’s called an NHD Report and it will let the buyer know whether they are buying a property that is located in an area that is regarded as hazardous. The Natural Hazard Disclosure report is a comprehensive report that will ensure the buyer knows exactly what kind of area they want to move into and also help them to prepare for any eventuality, should a disaster occur.

What Is a Natural Hazard Report? 

Given that it is called a report, it is not really any wonder that it is quite a lengthy document.

The main goal of the Natural Hazard Disclosure is to supply the buyers with information on whether or not the house they are interested in is situated in one of the following hazardous zones:

  • Very High Fire - An area prone to outbreaks of fires.
  • Dam Inundation - An area that is potentially at risk of flooding.
  • Earthquake Fault Zone - An area situated along an earthquake fault line.
  • Wild-land Fire - An area near forests or wooded areas that are prone to fires.
  • A Special Flood Hazard Area - An area that has a chance of experiencing high flooding.
  • Seismic Hazard - An area that doesn’t lie along a fault line, but is at risk of seismic activity.

If your home does lie within one of the above zones, then you are required by California State Law to supply an NHD Report stating this fact. This is due to the fact that your home runs a greater risk of being damaged during a flood, fire or earthquake etc.

Why Is It Required?

By providing the potential buyer with an NHD Report, you are giving them the opportunity to perform preventative measures to ensure the safety of their home should a natural disaster occur.

California is a generally high risk zone with many areas that are considered hazardous due to flooding, extreme fires and so forth. In 2020 alone, raging fires across California burned up and incinerated more than four million acres. Last year also saw some of the worst flooding to date accompanied by terrifying mud slides that left the surrounding areas decimated and destroyed.

Homeowners who wish to sell their homes are therefore required to provide an NHD Report to the potential buyers to ensure that they have a complete and comprehensive knowledge of any risks involved in the area which they are planning on moving into. All home owners are responsible for making sure that their properties are not adding to the hazards of an already hazardous zone. 

Buyers will need to check and see whether the house you are selling will meet their standards, and the NHD Report will help them to make that decision. They can also use it as a guideline to see what steps they will need to take in order to protect against the elements which are sure to come into play at some point or other during their stay.

Taking Preventative Measures

It has been my experience that the old adage of “a stitch in time saves nine” really rings true, especially when it comes to our home. With the NHD Report the buyer can check to see where they need to take preventative measures and they will be able to plan properly and get the right home insurance. If you are selling your home and it lies within one of the hazard areas, the NHD Report will give the buyer the opportunity to prepare by following the steps below.  

  • High Flood Zones - Plan ahead and buy flood insurance. Check the gutters to make sure that they are all cleared and securely fastened. Clear away any dead trees or debris that may start a mudslide during a storm. If there are overhanging branches from trees, cut them down as they could fall on the roof and cause greater damage.

  • High Fire and Wild-Fire Zones - By stating that your home lies within a high fire zone on the Natural Hazard Disclosure report, you are giving the buyer the opportunity to clear away excess brush and make sure that they have properly pruned and trimmed all trees and bushes on the property. There needs to be a defensible space buffer around the home that extends at least a hundred feet. They will be able to install the proper fire fighting equipment on the premises and ensure that it is in good working order. Moreover, they will also be able to add mesh screens over all the vents in the home to ensure that embers and spark don’t enter the home through these vents.

  • Seismic Hazard - Ensure that the house is firmly anchored to its foundations, repair any deep cracks in the ceiling or foundation and invest in earthquake insurance ahead of time.

Homes are an investment in the future and people don’t want to see their investment go up in flames or vanish into the gaping chasm of an earthquake.

Some may even decide against buying in a hazardous area – but the important thing is that they have the opportunity to make that decision for themselves. And by supplying the buyer with a comprehensive NHD Report, they will be able to do just that.