TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At the invitation of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Realtors President Dean Asher spoke to members of the Florida Cabinet this morning about concerns that Realtors and Floridians across the state have because of "unintended consequences" from the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012, signed into law on July 6, 2012, and phased in over time.
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.
Asher, broker-owner with Don Asher & Associates Inc. in Orlando, noted that the state's growing real estate market is contributing to Florida's strengthening economic recovery. According to the most recent housing data from Florida Realtors, August marked the 20th month in a row that the statewide existing single-family home median sales price rose year-over-year.
"Unfortunately, the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act passed by Congress could bring that positive momentum to a screeching halt," Asher said, reading a written statement into the record for the Florida Cabinet. "I want to be sure that the general public knows that Realtors understand the need for solvency in the federal flood program (National Flood Insurance Program). However, the Biggert-Waters Act contains severe unintended consequences that are harmful to Floridians as well as other states. We believe the reforms will have a detrimental impact on the entire economy of Florida, including existing homeowners and those who want to buy Florida properties."
While most sections of the Act relating to rate changes offer a "glidepath" or "phase in" to actuarial soundness, it does not have such a provision for the new homebuyer, he said, adding "this reform measure will, in effect, lock many current homeowners into their property. Homeowners won't be able to sell because no one will be able to afford to buy after they learn what the flood insurance premium will be."
Also addressing the Cabinet on flood insurance reform issues were Brandi Gabbard, a Pinellas County Realtor and chair-elect of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors, and Bill Foster, mayor of the city of St. Petersburg.
Florida Realtors®, formerly known as the Florida Association of Realtors®, serves as the voice for real estate in Florida. It provides programs, services, continuing education, research and legislative representation to its more than 118,000 members in 62 boards/associations. Florida Realtors®Media Center website is available at http://media.floridarealtors.org.