Flood insurance hikes bringing Pinellas real estate market to a - FOX 13 News

Flood insurance hikes bringing Pinellas real estate market to a grinding halt

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TREASURE ISLAND (FOX 13) -

Seventy-five percent of the homes for sale on Treasure Island have a direct flood insurance crisis: premiums that may increase ten-fold or more starting October 1st.

The other 25 percent have a perception problem. Karen Hogan owns one of those.

"So many people are afraid of flood insurance increases that they're not looking," she said. "We're just not getting the foot traffic that we'd like to see, which means we can't sell."

The Hogan's built their home in 2007, and listed it in early July at $1.325 million. The 17 stairs to the front door extend to 16 feet above sea level, which is a whopping five feet above the 100-year flood plain.

The flood insurance premium rewards that margin of safety.

"My insurance is $280 today, it's going to be $280 next year," Hogan said, producing the bill as proof. "We make sure that we talk about the fact that flood insurance is not an issue here. It's just getting people to come to us to be able to talk about that."

Real estate agent Dania Perry described the house as "a gem."

"This house should have sold immediately," she said.

Perry claims the cost to build the same house today would be $2 million, which makes the existing, relatively new structure a bargain. She attributes the buyer reluctance to "...a lack of understanding that homes that are built above base flood are not affected. Mostly anything built after the 1980s are not going to be an issue."

The homes that do have an issue were built slab-on-grade before the creation of the National Flood Insurance Program and the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps [FIRM] in 1974. Those homes, counted in the tens of thousands in the Tampa Bay area, are referred to as "pre-FIRM" homes, and have paid "subsidized" premiums.

Last year, Congress renewed the NFIP and required risk-rated premiums, starting October 1st. Perry received a flood premium quote for another one of her listings while at the Hogan property.

"$33,875," she repeated to the caller. "So that makes that house unsalable."

It got worse: she was off by one to two feet on that home's elevation.

"So you think it will actually be $35,000 or $40,000 for $250,000 worth of coverage?" she asked the caller.

That exchange typifies the flood insurance crisis.

The Hogans are indirect victims, despite their foresight.

"I've lived through typhoons and hurricanes," Hogan said, explaining the elevation of her home and other storm-hardened features. "Mother Nature's a powerful lady, I didn't want to deal with her."

She, like so many others, could not foresee the power of a Congressional mandate.

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