Forum focuses on pending flood insurance changes

By on May 16, 2013

Moe Veissi, 2012 president of the National Association of Realtors.

Moe Veissi, 2012 president of the National Association of Realtors. (Russ Lay)

In early May, the Outer Banks Association of Realtors sponsored a forum on flood insurance.

Proposed changes in the National Flood Insurance Program and their potential impact on the Outer Banks have been a hot topic locally for Realtors and builders alike.

However, the public seems largely unaware of the financial consequences many will incur unless Congress amends the new flood insurance rates.

The OBAR forum was held so that local business leaders and other interested parties could spread the word.

The issue is so important to local interest groups that national leaders in the real estate industry, including Moe Veissi, the 2012 president of the National Association of Realtors, and Russell Wiggs, the senior regulatory representative with the NAR, addressed the crowd.

Representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, as well as Congressman Walter Jones also attended.

Willo Kelly, government affairs specialist for OBAR and the Outer Banks Homebuilders Association was the primary speaker at the gathering.

Kelly recapped concerns raised by studies from organizations such as North Carolina Sea Grant, where rate and flood map changes could result in flood insurance premiums reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The audience was informed about a house built in 1997 in soundside Avon where the annual flood premium went from $400 a year to $8,500 annually because the property had been re-assigned to the highest rated risk zone — “V,” where wave velocity damage is possible.

Kelly re-iterated that in addition to the premium increases already in effect, “unknowns” are creating anxiety among homeowners, sellers and buyers with regard to the future.

That uncertainty is finding its way into the real estate sales market, which is only now beginning to emerge from the effects of the 2007 real estate crisis.

Those “unknowns” include new flood mapping, which has not been completed at this time, which will result in new base flood elevations and the re-assignment of flood zones for many properties — factors that will cause premium increases for many properties in the future.

At the same time, a new “Coastal A” flood zone, which will add a new wave velocity risk zone to the current premium matrix has not yet been finalized.

Presently, property owners and buyers are not able to determine if their property will fall into the new zone, nor have premiums been fully established.

Readers can view a summary of the changes and what they can do to influence congressional action by going to this presentation on the OBAR web site:

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