Most SW Floridians don’t realize that the US government raised rates on flood insurance back in 2012. The Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012 was signed into law July 6, 2012 and is being phased in over time.
Big Changes in Flood Insurance You Need to Know
Realtors have been sounding alarms in Tallahassee and elsewhere because flood insurance rates under the new program could double or triple, effectively pricing new homeowners out of buying certain properties. To make matters worse, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has reclassified certain properties that weren’t previously located in a mandated flood zone into a now mandated flood zones.
Some homeowners have never had flood insurance on their property but when they go to sell it will be required. Some homeowners have received letters from their lenders requiring them to obtain flood insurance.
The issue is Congress is essentially raising taxes by raising flood rates and making more people buy flood insurance. The program was losing money so something had to be done, but the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012 said FEMA was to provide an affordability study on what the effects of implementation would be on consumers. That study was to be completed by April 2013 but has not been done yet.
Florida Realtors President Dean Asher spoke to the members of the Florida Cabinet recently at the request of Governor Rick Scott. He urged the Florida Cabinet to call on Congress to act now to delay “implementation of the Act’s rate increase provisions for grandfathered and newly purchased properties, pending FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) report to Congress on the results of the affordability study that was required by Biggert-Waters.” That still-unknown affordability study was supposed to be submitted to Congress this past April, he pointed out.
Existing homeowners were protected by phasing in the rate increase but new homeowners have no such protection. This may limit the growth in real estate as added costs to the buyer curtail how much they can afford to pay for the home. It’s a total cost issue. A buyer must weigh cost of home, interest rate, down payment requirements, home owner’s insurance, condo or HOA fees, taxes, and now rising flood insurance rates. The total cost impacts buying power, and if a buyer is impacted you can bet sellers will be too.
FEMA has recently updated its website to help consumers identify a property’s flood zone and estimate the cost of a new policy. It can be found at www.FloodSmart.gov The website gives a large range of costs but at least you’ll get an idea of a low end and top end and a list of agents that can write flood policies to check with.
We’re not sure what effect states can have on the federal government, so it’s probably safe to assume flood rates are going up and it may impact all of us in some form. We welcome any attention the State if Florida can give to the US government on this issue.
New disclosures to purchase contracts have just been released for new sales contracts. Be sure to factor in the new changes as it could affect your cost of ownership.
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