“This is continually a last-minute problem
where the banks make the rules and require
flood insurance at their own discretion.”
Tina Golon, next to the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vt., helps clients find ways to lower
costly flood insurance premiums and stay in their homes. During Tropical Storm Irene, the
river overflowed and devastated parts of the town.
the elevation levels of their homes. If properties are found to be
above the floodwaters in a 100-year storm, the owners can submit a Letter of Map Amendment to the Federal Emergency Management Association and have their homes remapped outside
flood zones. Then they aren’t required to buy flood insurance.
Golon’s advice proved fruitful for her client with the backyard
brook. FEMA finally removed the couple’s home from the flood
zone recently, but the process took a year to complete.
This lifeline can keep home owners from falling into foreclo-
sure or filing for bankruptcy to get out of their homes, which
can lead to even worse problems for the state, says Vermont
REALTORS® CEO Isaac Chavez. Fewer than 650,000 people live
in Vermont, “so if that happens to 20 or 30 people, that’s equiv-
alent to hundreds or thousands in a larger state,” Chavez says.
The state’s 1,600 REALTORS® have been dedicated to raising
awareness about flood insurance among their congressional
leaders, and the state association has partnered with NAR to
lobby for revisions to insurance legislation. But regardless of
those changes, Chavez says practitioners must get used to having hard conversations with clients about the challenges flood
insurance poses to real estate markets.
“The main thing is to be completely honest and transparent
up front, and don’t try to soft-pedal what the issue is,” Chavez
says. “You’d rather lose a listing than wait until a seller gets buyers, and then the buyers freak out when they get their insurance
quote. Then everybody loses.”
CALEB KENNA ©2015