NAR and many lawmakers in Congress are pushing for a time-out in the federal government’s efforts to eliminate flood insurance subsidies over time and phase in premium rates that reflect properties’ actuarial risk of flooding. NAR’s Call for Action this week to its members is part of that effort.
But it’s not just hikes in insurance premiums that’s fueling this push by NAR and others to slow things down; it’s the sometimes wildly divergent and uncertain way insurers are assessing new premium rates. As NAR Past President Moe Veissi said in eye-opening testimony before a House subcommittee yesterday, property owners are sometimes getting half a dozen different premium quotes for their property, sometimes even from agents in the same company.
“The law has proven complicated and difficult to implement,” Veissi said in his testimony.
The former association president shared reports from NAR members across the country of some property owners seeing big increases in their flood insurance costs even though their property has never flooded and in some cases their community has never flooded or has instituted community-wide flood mitigation efforts.
The confusion in the market is having dire consequences on the ground. “We’re seeing for-sale signs today that say ‘No insurance impact on this property,’” he said. “That tells us very quickly that folks are making determinations at the point of impact on property that they would normally have bought.”
He also shared findings from a Rand study that home values are declining by $10,000 for every $500 increase in premiums.
Bottom line, there was broad acknowledgement among lawmakers and the witnesses at the hearing table that the flood insurance program must move to a premium structure that reflects the actuarial risk of flooding. But at the same time, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the needed change happens in an appropriate way. And that’s what the NAR-backed, bi-partisan legislation that’s under consideration in Congress would do.
The legislation is called the “Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act,” H.R. 3370 in the House and S. 1610 in the Senate, and It would pause some program changes while the federal government gets a handle on how the new rates are to be set and it looks at the affordability impact of the new premium structure. Importantly, it would also help property owners take action if they feel their premium changes aren’t accurate.
You can get more info on the Call for Action at the REALTOR® Action Center.
Four hurricanes pounded Florida in August and September 2004, and Rob and Marlena Burger are still recovering eight years later. Their Orlando storefront printing and design business was destroyed, and the couple ended up living and working in an old mobile home that suffered from severe leaks, electrical issues, and mold.
The couple was losing hope of ever owning a home, until they found Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando Area. Now, the Burgers are among the 58 families moving into the Stag Horn Villas, an $8 million, energy-efficient, townhome community built by Habitat.
“At one time, we were treading water in a sea of despair,” said Burger. “But since Habitat, we’ve been floating in an ocean of gratitude.”
About 100 REALTORS® volunteered their carpentry skills at the Stag Horn Villas development Wednesday morning. This is the 12th year members of NAR have participated in a Habitat for Humanity build during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. NAR contributed $50,000 to the Stag Horn Villas project.
“Every nail you drive, every paint brush you use, every item you carry, recognize that you’re not just helping these folks, but you’re helping this country,” Moe Veissi, 2012 president of NAR, told the REALTOR® volunteers. “Not just the economic health of America depends on home ownership, we know that the social and cultural health of this country knits its fabric together by people who live in communities that you are helping to build.”
YOU DID IT! Late last week Congress finally acted on one of your key legislative priorities, a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Even better news, we just received word that the president is expected to sign it into law tomorrow, Friday, July 6, 2012.
All the D.C. pundits said nothing would be accomplished in an election year! You just proved them wrong because you didn’t give up, and now you have the victory to confirm it!
The reason I’m writing this today is to reinforce the commitment of your National Association to you and every other member who expects us to persevere on issues of importance to our members and your clients – the consumers, homeowners, and potential home owners of the future.
NAR, with your help and influence, stayed the course to give lenders and home owners more certainty in the mortgage and real estate market place with available flood insurance for existing home owners and those buying and selling.
This has been a long, arduous battle. The National Flood Insurance Program suffered through over 18 short-term extensions and hobbled along for the last four years without a long-term reauthorization forthcoming from D.C.
It was your charge to us not to give up, not to accept anything less than a long-term reauthorization of the Flood Insurance Program. So, we battled to get every inch along those short-term extensions until now when a full five-year reauthorization has been approved.
This fight traveled over several administrations and more than a few presidents of NAR. I’m proud to represent them and the management team in this victory for you.
But, while I’m proud of my predecessors in leadership, and equally as proud of the most effective management team both in Chicago and D.C., I am especially proud of you!
When called upon to respond to our Calls to Action, you did. When asked to invest in your business, you have. And, when asked to step up and participate you resoundingly did that, too.
New battles lay ahead. There will be no easy victories. Now more than ever, it is our responsibility to be steadfast protectors of the American Dream of home ownership. If not us who? If not now when? So, when we call on you like we did to rally, when we call on you like we do to respond to the calls for action, please; continue to show your commitment.
God bless you all. You are what this country is all about! Rally on REALTOR® Party!
You truly are the heart of the deal… many thanks.
More at REALTOR.org: Congress Reauthorizes Flood Insurance for 5 Years
NAR President Ron Phipps and NAR President-elect Moe Veissi will talk with three Bank of America Home Loans executives on the state of home finance, credit standards, and the latest on short sales in a free, hour-long webinar on Monday, May 9, at 3 p.m., Eastern Time.
Participating BofA executives:
- Matt Vernon, senior vice president of retail sales
- Vijay Lala, senior vice president of product management
- David Sunlin, senior vice president of short sale and real estate management
By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
The day before the National Association of REALTORS® starts its Home Ownership Matters Bus Tour at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, REALTORS® from the Chicago area gathered at NAR headquarters Friday for a town hall-style meeting. The topic: the state of home ownership in America today.
2011 NAR President-Elect Moe Veissi, in Chicago for the kick-off, encouraged REALTORS® attending the meeting to start talking with peers and clients about how much the U.S. economy is affected by home ownership. ”We need to spread the word,” he told the 100 or so REALTORS® in the audience. Key messages he asked members to share:
- The housing market makes up $4 trillion, or about 15 percent, of the total U.S. gross domestic product.
- The housing industry has led the way out of six of the last eight U.S. recessions.
- For every two homes sold in the United States, one job is created.
Veissi asked members to join in the fight by voicing their concerns to their elected officials and by sharing these statistics publicly in their community. ”Let’s help the American consumer understand how vital home ownership is to a healthy U.S. economy,” he said, “and how it helps to create the thing we need most right now, jobs.”
By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
In an effort to get a better sense of the challenges REALTORS® face in today’s market and explain to members NAR’s positions and actions on key issues, the Leadership Team held its first-ever virtual “Town Hall” meeting yesterday afternoon. The panel — which included NAR 2011 President Ron Phipps, President-Elect Moe Veissi, Vice President and Liaison to Government Affairs Vince Malta, and Vice President and Liaison to Committees Elizabeth Mendenhall — heard questions and comments from members who were videoconferenced in from Northern Virginia and REALTORS® from around the country who called in.
The very first question concerned an issue that’s dogged many members over the past couple of years: the slowness and unpredictability of banks’ decisions and processes, particularly around short sales. As Phipps pointed out, NAR has met with representatives of a few large banks, and will meet with more soon, in an effort to work out a solution to this problem.
According to Phipps, at the root of the issue is a lack of “ironclad policies” that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the big banks all adhere to. That said, the pace of short sales and other unconventional transactions is starting to pick up, Malta said. Continue reading »