Florida Realtors to Fla. Cabinet: Flood insurance reform could hurt economy

Gov. Scott invited Florida Realtors Pres. Dean Asher to speak today before the Fla. Cabinet, and Asher urged them to help delay

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sept. 24, 2013 – 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 have with “unintended consequences” of the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012, which was signed into law on July 6, 2012. Asher urged the Florida Cabinet to call on Congress and ask lawmakers 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.” The 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, said that the state’s growing real estate market contributes to Florida’s strengthening economic recovery. August marked the 20th month in a row that the statewide existing single-family home median sales price rose year-over-year, according to the most recent housing data from Florida Realtors. “Unfortunately, the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act passed by Congress could bring that positive momentum to a screeching halt,” Asher said. “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, Asher 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.” Brandi Gabbard, a Pinellas County Realtor and chair-elect of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors, also addressed the Cabinet on flood insurance reform issues, along with Bill Foster, mayor of the city of St. Petersburg. To read Florida Realtors President Dean Asher’s full statement to the Florida Cabinet, visit Florida Realtors media website.
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