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NFIP-February-2018

WASHINGTON – Feb. 9, 2018 – As part of the just-passed continuing resolution to keep the government open, the National Flood Insurance Program now won’t expire until March 23, 2018.

While the legislation only extends government operations for six weeks – including NFIP – Congress agreed to some long-term changes, including $90 billion in assistance for post-hurricane cleanup in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

While the national flood insurance program isn’t a direct part of federal funding, its future has been tied to it recently because the flood insurance extension has been voted on alongside the larger spending packages.

For at least the next six weeks, however, homebuyers and sellers in flood zones can stop worrying about the loss of flood insurance derailing their transaction.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

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Flood the Capitol

 

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) needs your help to send messages to Members of Congress urging them to support a comprehensive re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Reauthorization will make a number of critical improvements to the NFIP including increased funds for mitigation activities, caps on overall premium increases, improved claim and mapping processes, as well as removing hurdles for more private market participation in the flood insurance market.

Reauthorization of the NFIP will help over 5 million homeowners in 22,000 communities around the country, so it is critical Congress acts now.

If Congress fails to take action to reauthorize the NFIP, it will expire by September 30, 2017.

More information:
NAR Flood Insurance Portal

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Seven real estate laws drafted by the 2017 Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott went into effect Saturday, including a Florida Realtors priority: estoppel fee caps.

Laws effective July 1

  • Cap on estoppel certificate fees – Sellers of properties who live in an HOA, condo association or co-op will have a limit on the amount they’ll pay for an estoppel certificate, a document that informs a buyer if the seller is current with their dues and assessments. SB 398 (Sen. Passidomo, R-Naples) caps estoppel certificate fees at $250 for unit owners who are current in their assessments. Associations may charge an additional $100 for expedited estoppel certificates (delivered within three business days) and another $150 to owners who are delinquent in their assessments. The bill sets the price of estoppel certificates for multiple units owned by the same person and establishes a uniform, statewide format that ensures buyers and closing agents receive the appropriate information needed to close the real estate transaction. This bill also requires certificates to be valid for 30 days if delivered electronically or 35 days if delivered by mail.
  • Florida’s natural resources – More than $500 million is earmarked for Everglades restoration, beach renourishment and springs restoration. During the session, SB 10 (Sen. Bradley, R-Orange Park) served as the primary piece of policy legislation for Everglades restoration and establishes how the funding will be used for these projects. A key provision of SB 10 is the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is designed to curb nutrient and salinity levels that are harmful to Florida’s valuable natural resources.
  • Condominium termination law – Legislation passed in 2015 to protect condo owners from being forced to sell – possibly at a loss – has several loopholes that real estate investors and bulk buyers exploited. SB 1520(Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater) fine-tunes the rules and modifies the process by reducing the percentage of owners required to reject the termination – from 10 percent to 5 percent.
  • Condominium oversight – A South Florida news report of fraud in condo board elections, misappropriation of funds and rigged bids resulted in a Miami-Dade grand jury recommending changes to Florida’s Condominium Act. HB 1237 (Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami) provides several new condo oversight rules: (1) a condo association with more than 150 units must publish its financial reports and other documents (bylaws, articles of incorporation, condo rules) on a password-protected web page; (2) if an owner is denied documents and fraud is proven, persons responsible for fraudulent activity could face felony charges; (3) the term of a condo board director is limited to eight years, with some exceptions.
  • Private flood insurance – As Realtors petition Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Florida lawmakers continue to work to attract private flood insurance capital to Florida. HB 813 (Rep. Larry Lee Jr., D-Fort Pierce) accomplishes two primary goals: (1) Rating flexibility for flood insurers is extended from 2019 until 2025 before they must follow guidelines similar to other lines of coverage – a way to encourage private insurers to enter the Florida market; (2) insurance agents can place flood policies with surplus lines insurers for two more years – until 2019 – before they must make a “diligent effort” to place the coverage with carriers regulated by the state. Diligent effort requires an agent to seek coverage and be rejected by at least three regulated carriers writing the same type of coverage.
  • Drone regulation – HB 1027 (Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville) preempts the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) by local governments and grants oversight to the state of Florida. This will prevent drone operators from having to potentially comply with ordinances adopted by 400+ local governments.
  • Pollution notification – SB 1018 (Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid) sets a threshold for when an operator is required to notify the Division of Emergency Management and the Department of Environmental Protection about a pollution event. It also provides a timeframe for the notification and defines what a reportable event means. This legislation is the result of pollution from a sinkhole at the Mosaic fertilizer facility in Mulberry, Fla., last summer. The Scott administration created an emergency rule that shifted the burden of pollution notification from the state to the owner of the property where the spill occurred. Florida Realtors was part of a coalition that successfully challenged the legal authority for this rule, creating an opportunity for the passage of this friendly legislation.

© 2017 Florida Realtors

These are some of the best “Smart Home” devices that may help to sell your home or increase the selling price of your home. Some may even help to lower the cost of your homeowner’s insurance. Worth checking out. Let me know what you think or which ones you’ve utilized.

 

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June 2016 Visit my Website | AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com
Pinellas Realtor Organization
Neighborhood Advocates Initiative
Flood Programs (Campaign #6 / 6.17.16)

Here’s an opportunity for homeowners in Pinellas County to reduce their flood insurance premiums. Many homeowners with flood insurance unknowingly pay higher rates for flood insurance than they have to.

There are many factors to consider when generating a flood insurance policy and its rates, and sometimes mistakes or miscalculations are made. These two events will give you the opportunity to hear about new changes to flood insurance. Afterwards, flood insurance evaluation professionals will sit with homeowners, one-on-one, to evaluate their policies.

On July 11 and July 12 you’ll have the opportunity to have your flood insurance policy evaluated with the possibility of a rate decrease. The first event is at the Pinellas Realtor Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. The second event is at the Tarpon Springs Community Center, 400 S Walton Ave in Tarpon Springs. Both events begin at 6:00pm with a general session, the individual meetings starting at 6:30pm.

Here are some questions worth noting:

  • How Do I RSVP? Email stpete@yourfloodrisk.com for the event in Clearwater or tarpon@yourfloodrisk.com, or call 856.723.3666 for both events.
  • Who is conducting the seminar? A company called Flood Risk Evaluator with the support of the Pinellas Realtor Organization and the Florida Association for Insurance Reform.
  • What is the cost? The entire event and evaluation is FREE. The only cost is possibly the overage you are paying for your current flood insurance policy!
  • What do I need to bring with me? You MUST have your elevation certificate and current flood insurance policy with you.

These issues have the potential to affect you and our local economy, so I thought that you might want to know about it. If you ever have questions, you can email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com or call me at 727-804-6566. Thank you so much.

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

flood-Insurance_WEB

 

Neighborhood Advocates Initiative Flood Insurance April 2016

I’m sure that you have heard that flood insurance rates increased starting April 1.

In 2012 Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act, creating sharp rate increases for properties in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Those increases went into effect in the fall of 2013, and crisis ensued for many homeowners. Congress acted by passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which addressed many of the problems.

The sharp increases from Biggert-Waters were postponed, and a glide path was proposed instead of the immediate increases. On Friday, April 1, 2016 the glide path went into effect.

Here is what a property owner should know:

  • The type of property matters: Residential vs. Commercial, Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map), Severe Repetitive Loss, non-primary residential, etc. It is important for a property owner to understand that the property’s characteristics will dictate the maximum annual increase in premiums. A typical Pre-FIRM, primary residence will see a maximum annual increase of 18%, but on average will see a 9% increase.
  • High likelihood rates will continue to increase: Pinellas County, FL has the most NFIP policies of any county in the country, and Pasco and Hillsborough are close behind. This is based on several factors that will continue to drive risk and increased rates for years to come. Those risk factors are weather, building codes at the time of construction of Pre-FIRM homes, and proximity to bodies of water.
  • How do I know exactly what I will be paying? It is important to involve an insurance professional during this conversation. The many facets of flood insurance, or any other form of property insurance, make it a complex question to answer. An insurance professional can navigate the ins and outs, and properly advise you on how best to limit your cost. Keep in mind, you won’t see an immediate increase in costs until your next renewal period, you purchase a new property requiring flood insurance, or you have to re-initiate your flood insurance policy due to a lapse in coverage.

 

Because this issue has the potential to affect you and our local economy, I thought that you might want to know about it. If you have questions or comments, please email me at AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com Thank you so much.

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

When you pay your mortgage, do you know exactly what you’re paying for? As a homeowner, you should,so here is your mortgage decoded and explained: http://bit.ly/1q3lvfZ

PITI: Your Mortgage Payment Explained – realtor.com
As a renter you are used to sending your landlord a monthly payment, which sometimes even includes your utility payments.Once you become a homeowner, your monthly mortgage payment becomes more complicated.Unless you are paying cash for your home, you will have a mortgage payment. There are typically four parts to this monthly mortgage payment, often referred to as PITI:

  • Principal: This is the portion of your payment that goes to pay down the balance that you borrowed. If you opt for a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment will not change over the loan term, but the makeup of your payment will change. In the early years of your loan, you mostly pay interest, but gradually you will begin to pay more of the principal. For example, in the first month of a 30-year fixed-rate loan of $200,000 at 4.5%, your payment will be $1,014 with $264 toward principal and $750 toward interest. In 20 years, the payment will still be $1,014 each month—but the payment will be shifted to $647 toward principal and $367 toward interest.
  • Interest: The interest you pay is the cost of borrowing money.
  • Taxes: Your lender usually requires an escrow account and will collect one-twelfth of your annual property tax bill in this account with each mortgage payment.
  • Insurance: You will pay one year of homeowners’ insurance premiums at your home settlement as part of your closing costs, and then your lender will collect one-twelfth of your annual insurance premium in this account with each mortgage payment.

If you make a down payment of less than 20%, your mortgage payment may also include mortgage insurance, a fee you pay that protects your lender in case you default on the loan.

While there are sometimes exceptions to the rule, lenders generally require your house payment to be 31% or less than your gross monthly income. So when you are calculating how much you can afford to spend on a home, you should keep that figure in mind.

Other Housing Expenses

If you buy a condominium or a home within a homeowners association (HOA), you will also need to pay association dues. These dues are not part of your mortgage payment but will be considered as part of your debt-to-income ratio. Condo fees are usually collected monthly, and HOA fees can be collected monthly, quarterly or annually.

When you are making up a housing budget, you also need to estimate your utility costs—which you will pay separately from your mortgage. You can ask the sellers of a home you’re interested in for their average utility bills. Don’t forget you may need to pay not only gas and electric bills but also a water bill and possibly a trash removal fee.

As a renter, you’ve been able to call your landlord when an appliance breaks or you have a plumbing leak, but as a homeowner these problems will become yours. You need to budget for maintenance and repairs, but it can be difficult to predict what issues will arise in any particular year.

It also depends on the age and condition of your home. A home inspector can give you an idea of when you might need to replace particular appliances, but you can also keep about 1% of your home value available for emergency home repairs.

Budgeting for homeownership is a key element to maintaining your ability to keep your home and to help it hold onto its value. Making your monthly house payment is the biggest part of the financial commitment—but certainly not the only one.

Well, here’s a cheery way to start the week. No, actually, this is one of the best infographics I have seen on preparing your home for natural disasters. I like that it is concise & full of information as well as debunking some myths. Which natural disaster causes the most damage? 6 of the 7 people I asked, responded with the wrong answer. See how you fare.

 

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Last night the US Senate passed “The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act” by a vote of 72-22. This is the bill that the US House passed last week. This is incredible news for REALTORS® and property owners. The bill will now be sent directly to President Obama for his signature. Both US Senators (Florida) Nelson and Rubio voted in favor of the bill.

If you’d like to read the PRO View Blog for more info or to share this awesome news, click here .

“This bill provides a compromise to bring relief to property owners and stability to the real estate market while still providing a path for the NFIP to reach actuarial soundness,” stated Patty Templeton Jones, COO Wright Flood.  “We understand that policyholders and their agents will be primarily interested in receiving any refunds and revised lower premium rates, however, the implementation of any refunds and revised rates from this bill is in the hands of FEMA and the NFIP for action.”

HFIAA14 directs FEMA and the NFIP to modify BW12  Flood Reforms already in place as well as to modify the future implementation of BW12 Flood Reforms. A Congressional Summary of HFIAA14 is available to read more. To see how your Senator voted, click here to see how your Representative voted, click here.  http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs067/1108848433050/img/61.png

Meanwhile, I’ve been involved in recent closings where the buyer obtained reasonable private sector flood insurance and acquired very competitive lender financing .  Our communities and local markets, not to mention all Florida real estate markets, should begin to enjoy  a rebound from the fear and uncertainly as well as direct financial pain initiated by Biggerts-Waters.  It seems common sense can prevail after all.  Everyone should be very proud of the support and response that has generated it.

For all of you buyers and sellers, please enjoy our extended visitor season this year!  Have a great day!

WASHINGTON – Jan. 15, 2014 – An omnibus budget bill expected to pass Congress and become law includes language that offers a bit of flood insurance relief for some homeowners, and a ray of hope for all owners impacted by rapidly rising premiums for flood policies issued under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Because the current change is part of a largely bipartisan budget bill, it’s expected to pass the House and Senate, and be signed into law by Pres. Obama.

The law doesn’t help anyone trying to sell a flood-zone home. In those cases, a buyer must immediately pay the higher actuarial rate for flood coverage, forcing some owners to sell for less or making a sale impossible.

The law does help some current flood policy homeowners – owners of older homes built to code at the time of construction who voluntarily bought flood insurance. Sometime after construction, new flood maps issued by FEMA moved these owners into a higher-risk zone, but the program, so far, has subsidized their flood insurance rates to a level below their actuarial level. These owners were supposed to see their rates start to rise incrementally this year, but the expected law delays any increase for 10 months.

Still, the expected law raises homeowners’ hopes: It includes a mandate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has 60 days to issue a report on ways to make flood insurance more affordable.

Homeowners would see greater relief from an unrelated bill currently moving in the Senate, though its passage – approval by the Senate, the House and signed by Pres. Obama – is less assured. If the current version becomes law, it would provide a four-year delay in flood insurance rate hikes. During that time, the National Academy of Sciences would conduct an affordability study and FEMA would certify the accuracy of its floodplain maps.

While this second bill could get a full Senate vote within the week, its future in the House is less clear.

As a result, the bill currently expected to pass “is only a partial solution and there is still work to be done,” says Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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