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Acquisition FAQs

Funding is still available through Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) for the voluntary purchase of properties that are at risk from flooding or landslides.

Interested property owners should contact their town manager, administrator, or Selectboard to express interest. Towns with interested property owners should reach out to to learn more about the application process. 

Funding is available for properties damaged during the July flooding or previous events  as well as properties at risk of flooding but without previous damage. Towns apply to VEM for grant funding to cover the purchase price and other eligible buyout costs. The purchase price is set at full market value (either current value or pre-event) and property owners can choose to withdraw without cost from the process at any time prior to closing. Bought out properties are required to be maintained as open green space in perpetuity, keeping people safe and enhancing community resilience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Town, City, or Village Officials:

  • What properties are eligible within my town?  A range of residential or commercial properties may be eligible for one of multiple grant programs managed by VEM. Factors such as whether the property is developed, within a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, and under a certain cost threshold will determine which program is the best fit. VEM will help towns determine potential eligibility and program fit.
  • What is the cost to the town? No town match is required for buyout grants. Grants covers all allowable buyout costs, including any required environmental or archeology assessments, the appraisal, title search and closing document development, property purchase, demolition and debris removal, capping utilities, and final site work.
  • How does the town manage the buyout grant? The town works with interested property owners and VEM to complete an application. Once a grant is awarded, the town uses grant funds to procure an appraiser and conduct other pre-purchase tasks. After closing and the purchase of the property, the town uses grant funds to procure contractors for demolition and site work. The town tracks expenditures and provides quarterly reports to VEM.
  • What do we do with the property once acquired? Properties acquired with a buyout grant must be maintained as public open green space once all structures have been removed or relocated. No new structures can be built on the property, but towns are free to use the space as a pocket park or to provide public river access. The town is responsible for ongoing routine maintenance of the property such as keeping the vacant land clear of debris and garbage (see FEMA HMA Guidance: Part 12. B.1. Property Acquisition for Open Space).
  • How long does the buyout process take? Once an application is submitted, it can take anywhere from a few months to over a year for it to be processed. Tasks like the appraisal, property purchase, and demolition occur after the grant is awarded.
  • Are there outreach materials available for interested property owners? Yes. Property owners can be directed to the frequently asked questions on this webpage. Towns can also distribute this informational buyout flyer.
  • Getting Started: Towns should reach out to to learn more about the application process or find the application forms on our Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or Flood Resilient Communities Fund pages.

Property Owners:

  • If I begin the buyout process, can I change my mind and keep my property? Yes, buyouts are completely voluntary, and you can change your mind at any time before closing.
  • Is my property eligible for a buyout? A range of properties – including residential, commercial, developed, vacant, listed or not currently on the market – are potentially eligible, depending on their location relative to mapped flood zones and other indications of hazard risk. VEM works with towns and interested property owners to assess a property's potential buyout eligibility.
  • Do I need to have suffered flooding or landslide damage? While properties must have risk of flooding or landslide, they do not need to have been previously damaged. VEM will provide assistance in determining flood risk.
  • I recently suffered flood damage, does that affect a possible buyout? Properties recently damaged by flooding can be appraised at their pre-event value (see below). If you received any federal funding following damages from this event (e.g., flood insurance payments or Individual Assistance (IA)), save all documents and receipts. Any questions regarding use of insurance or IA payments should be directed to your insurer or FEMA, respectively.
  • How is my property’s value determined? Property owners receive full market value, as determined by a third-party appraiser. The property can either be appraised at current market value or, if the property has recently been damaged by a flood or landslide, at its pre-event value. For instance, if your property was damaged by the July flooding, an appraiser can assess the value of the property on the day before the flooding and this can serve as the sale price. Property owners not satisfied with the appraisal can appeal and hire their own appraiser or choose to withdraw from the process.
  • Are there costs to the property owner? The funding covers an appraisal, legal fees and title work for the closing, purchase of the property, and demolition of the structure. Funding can also include assistance for tenants if there are full-time renters. Property owners can choose to use their own accredited appraiser or counsel at their own expense.
  • What is the application process and timeline? As part of the application process, property owners will be asked to provide complete and sign a few forms providing information on the property (approximately ten pages of form in total). The town will then submit the application for the buyout grant. Once an application is submitted, it can take up to over a year for it to be processed. Tasks like the appraisal and title search occur after the grant is awarded. The property owner is free to withdraw from the process at any time prior to closing.
  • What happens to my property after it’s sold? Towns are required to maintain acquired properties as public open green space once all structures have been removed or relocated. Keeping the property as open green space not only gets people out of harm’s way but can also enhances community resilience. The green space can serve as additional floodplain and keep flood waters away from neighbors.
  • Getting started: Interested property owners should contact their town manager, administrator, or Selectboard to express interest and ask them to reach out to to learn more about the application process.