David Stearrett, director of the Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate at the Federal Emergency Management Administration, led a panel discussion with fellow FEMA staff today at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. The panel focused on the importance of the National Flood Insurance Program and steps the agency deems necessary to reduce the complexity of the program and transition it to a financially sound framework.
“FEMA continues to address NFIP and take the lead on customer experience reform initiatives to ensure a less frustrating and all-encompassing flood insurance program. It’s important that we come to a multi-year reauthorization to allow for more stability in the mortgage and real estate markets and allow FEMA to sustain FEMA’s NFIP transformation,” Stearrett said.
The National Association of Realtors® has tirelessly expressed to Congress that NFIP is a crucial program and failing to reauthorize NFIP would have dire consequences. Without NFIP, thousands of homeowners, consumers, and commercial property owners could soon find themselves unprotected and unable to get a mortgage. NFIP provides affordable flood insurance to property owners across 22,000 communities, protecting homes and businesses from major flood disasters.
NAR is urging the Senate to act on 5-year reauthorization and reform legislation adopted by the House last November. Earlier this year, NAR scored a victory when Congress doubled flood map funding to $263 million, up from $177 million in the previous year, as part of the 2018 omnibus government spending bill. The reauthorization bill would strengthen flood mapping and the mitigation, proofing and elevation of properties, as well as fund the Office of the Flood Insurance Consumer Advocate to assist homeowners with concerns over flood mapping and/or insurance ratings.
“Of particular focus is flood mapping, an issue Realtors® and their customers largely depend upon in property transactions. Flood mapping is continually a focal point for FEMA and we are working on map revisions to ensure more access to materials and data for homeowners and property owners, ultimately allowing for better-informed transactions and property details,” Stearrett stated.
With only two months to reauthorize the program, Realtors® remain concerned about what expiration means for their business, their clients and homeownership. During the NAR Legislative Meetings, thousands of Realtors visited congressional offices to encourage lawmakers to continue working on long-term reauthorization of the program. Congress must reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on July 31, 2018.
On Tuesday morning, FEMA Administrator William Brock Long addressed Realtors® about the NFIP, disaster relief and ways real estate professionals can educate consumers on disaster insurance.
“I ask that Realtors® continue to teach your clients and communities about the importance of maintaining flood insurance and improving properties to protect against disaster. FEMA continues to promote long-term reauthorization of the program to address budgetary constraints and regulatory roadblocks that have strained consumers since NFIP was established 50 years ago. I encourage Realtors® , as experts on this subject, to continue to share their opinions on ways to better shape flood insurance” Long said.