Unless you're buying a vacant lot with the goal of turning land into a swampy mess, flooding is no good. It's a powerfully destructive force that can outright destroy buildings or cause thousands of dollars of water damage. Sound appealing? Nope. Not one bit.
So how can you know if a vacant lot falls within a floodplain? First, check the plats. Past research on the land may well have done your work for you already by mapping out the property's elevation and determining potential flood areas. If you strike out, turn to a surveyor for help. Flood zones are clearly defined with letter designations. Zone A means a 1 percent chance of annual flooding -- flood insurance is required for building here. Zones X or C are the ideal ratings -- that means a less than .2 percent chance of annual flooding [source: EDCGov].
Once you've safely determined that your future house won't be underwater the next time a big storm blows through, there's only one last hurdle to crest before you're ready to own a brand new piece of property: bureaucracy.