Congress is set to vote on H.B. 3370, named the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, or Biggert-Waters Act. As currently written, homeowners anywhere near a flood zone are being devastated by the uncertainty happening. In our area, some homeowners have seen their flood insurance go up from about $2000 per year to over $15,000 or more per year. These rate hikes are driving people out of their homes and paralyzing the real estate market.
The Senate passed a bill a few months ago and when the House passes their version of the bill, it will go to committee to work out the differences. The sooner the better, for consumers, homeowners and the real estate industry, which impacts more than just individual homeowners and Realtors. The wider net of current uncertainty affects home inspection companies, construction companies, home repair companies, plumbers, electricians, flooring installation companies, and many more. All of these companies have jobs that may now be going unfilled. Resolving the Biggerts-Waters Act just might put a whole lot of people back to work, so they can buy products and groceries, pay taxes, and have a positive impact on society.
The House proposal can provide greater consumer confidence by:
- Permanently removing the new policy rate trigger for primary residences when a home is sold
- Reinstate grandfathered rates by de-coupling rate increases with FEMA remapping
- Providing a refund for people who purchased a pre-FIRM subsidized house without total transparency from FEMA
- Increases the threshold to 50% from 30% of the fair market value that triggers a loss of Pre-FIRM status for homes substantially damaged or rebuilt
- Include generally accepted affordability measures for items such as: high deductible options, flood-proofed basement exemptions, map certification, flood protection funding recognition, optional monthly installment plans, exceptions on escrow requirements, removing the funding cap on the affordability study and more.
If you, or anyone you know, has been negatively affected by the Biggert-Waters Act, contact your Congressman or Congresswoman and let them know they need to vote for H.B. 3370 so we can get the economic recovery on track and help people move on with their lives.
The president of the National Association of Realtors has written a letter to each representative in Congress supporting the House bill. You can read the letter from President Steve Brown by clicking here.