US home owners warned over future flood insurance crisis in wake of hurricane Irma

As millions of home owners in Florida take stock of their flooded properties in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, real estate agents have issued a warning about flood insurance.

It under a month the National Flood Insurance Programme (NFIP) in the United States will end, raising concerns that home owners, consumers, and commercial property owners could soon find themselves either unprotected or unable to get a mortgage.

In July, the National Association of Realtors announced it had reached an agreement with the US House Financial Services Committee on key legislation to reauthorize and reform the NFIP with important modifications to retain grandfathering and reduce rate increases.

The move offered hope that reauthorization could win swift approval, but with less than a month left before the programme expires, real estate professionals say time is running short.

According to NAR president William Brown, Congress needs to take swift action on a short term extension of the programme so they can continue work on the 21st Century Flood Reform Act.

‘The country has been here before, and we know what happens if the National Flood Insurance Program expires. Home buying activity grinds to a halt, to the tune of 40,000 lost or interrupted sales every month,’ said Brown.

‘Meanwhile, existing home owners as well as commercial entities may find their largest asset unprotected if the Federal Emergency Management Administration can’t renew NFIP policies that expire. Consumers and home owners alike deserve certainty,’ he explained.

The NAR is calling on Congress to make extending the NFIP a top priority as that will give protection while the necessary work is carried out to finish reforming and reauthorizing the programme.

Brown added that the House Financial Services Committee has passed vital, long term reauthorization legislation, which would strengthen the NFIP. ‘These critical reforms are a long time coming, and we look forward to working with the House and Senate pass the 21st Century Flood Reform Act once the threat of a lapse has been addressed,’ he concluded.