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Tick Tock! National Flood Insurance Program Expires in Six Months, and Realtors® Are Sounding Alarm Bells

The National Flood Insurance Program provides affordable flood insurance to property owners across 22,000 communities, protecting homes and businesses from major flood disasters. But the program requires Congressional approval, and the clock is ticking.

With just six months to go until a critical September 30 deadline, Realtors® are calling on Congress to do something about it.

“It’s time for action,” said National Association of Realtors® President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. “Congress has six months to do the right thing and pass a long-term reauthorization of the program. We’re hoping they do just that.”

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According to Brown, expiration could deal significant damage to property owners, as well as to the business of real estate. And Realtors® are speaking from experience.

When the NFIP expired in 2010, NAR estimated that 1,300 home sales were disrupted every day, meaning 40,000 home sales would have potentially been impacted every month without the program. That’s because flood insurance is a requirement for mortgages on properties in a 100-year flood plain, and in many markets private flood insurance isn’t available. That means for some buyers and sellers, the NFIP is potentially the only game in town.

Brown added that this isn’t simply a problem for beachfront or lakefront properties, either.

“This problem affects far more than coastal communities, and prospective homeowners aren’t the only ones at risk,” Brown said. “Policyholders across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes. When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can’t… renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire.”

The result is that current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected if the NFIP expires. Brown says that given the recent flood history across the country, that’s a big deal.

“Last year was the third largest claims payout year in NFIP’s history, costing more than $4 billion,” Brown said. “While there were five billion-dollar floods, including Hurricane Matthew, four of the five were inland, and the largest single event was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in August, just one year out from the NFIP’s expiration date.”

Although a long-term extension of the program is a top priority, the National Association of Realtors® is also working closely with regulators and leaders in Congress to strengthen the program and help make room for a private market to take hold, something to which Brown said Realtors® are fully committed.

“The NFIP isn’t perfect, and reforms are needed,” Brown said. “We will continue working closely with everyone involved to achieve those reforms.”

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