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Flood Buyout Program

Learn about opportunities to sell flood-prone homes and eligibility information.

About the Flood Buyout Program

The King County Flood Buyout Program purchases homes at risk of damage from flooding.

Buyouts are voluntary. Flood-prone properties and structures are sold to King County and all structures are removed. Flood buyouts eliminate future flood damages and health and safety risks for owners and rescuers. This helps reduce the cost of emergency response actions such as evacuations, emergency shelters, temporary housing, debris removal and repairs to damaged structures.

After all structures are removed, the property is restored to permanent open space. This allows more room for flood water storage and flow, and creates natural space for fish, wildlife, and passive recreation.

Who is eligible for the Flood Buyout Program?

Any structure located in a flood-prone area of unincorporated King County may be eligible for this program. Buyouts are appropriate in areas where there is deep, fast-moving water, serious bank erosion, and significant risk of channel migration.

Priority applicants for the Buyout Program are:

  • Structures located in the floodway.
  • Structures located in the channel migration zone.
  • FEMA Repetitive Loss Properties. Any insurable building for which two or more claims of more than $1,000 were paid by the National Flood Insurance Program within any rolling 10-year period since 1978.

There are usually more property owners interested in buyouts than funds available. King County maintains a waitlist of property owners who want to participate in the program.

The buyout program is only for properties where the owner has agreed to take part in the program. No condemnation procedures are used to implement the Flood Buyout Program.

Basic steps in the home buyout process

  • Property owner must contact King County expressing an interest in selling their property.

  • King County determines eligibility of the property and availability of funds.

  • King County pays for an independent appraisal to establish the property's fair market value.

  • If the property owner and King County agree on the purchase price, the property is sold to King County.

  • King County pays for closing costs, excluding taxes and broker fees.

  • Once the home is purchased, the property owner moves out. King County removes any structures, and the land is redeveloped into a public, natural area.

Where does the money for buyouts come from?

The King County Flood Control District has provided most of the funding for home buyouts since its formation in 2007. Small amounts of funding also come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More federal and state grant funds can become available after a presidential disaster declaration, such as those that occurred because of the December 2006, January 2009, and February 2020 floods.

Other opportunities to sell your property

If your property is not eligible for acquisition through the Flood Buyout Program, King County DNRP has other acquisition programs which can conserve your property (or portions of it) in perpetuity for the benefit of fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality protection. Contact your King County Basin Steward for more information.