Fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down cre­ates a prob­lem for clos­ing home sales

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Local & State - BY MARTIN VASSOLO mvas­[email protected]­amiher­ald.com

The gov­ern­ment shut­down has sparked a tem­po­rary freeze in the is­suance of fed­eral flood in­sur­ance poli­cies, jeop­ar­diz­ing thou­sands of U.S. home sales.

The Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, which is part of the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, has an­nounced a halt in the is­su­ing and re­new­ing of fed­eral flood in­sur­ance plans through the Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram un­til Congress moves to end the shut­down and re­set fund­ing for agen­cies like the DHS.

The de­ci­sion — an­nounced af­ter Congress passed, and Pres­i­dent Trump signed, an ex­ten­sion of the NFIP through 2019 — was re­proached by Sens. Marco Ru­bio, R-Florida, and Max­ine Wal­ters, D-Cal­i­for­nia, who said it flew in the face

As the gov­ern­ment shut­down halts the is­suance of new flood in­sur­ance plans through the Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram, Florida of­fi­cials ad­vise home­own­ers to turn to pri­vate in­sur­ance plans.

of Con­gres­sional in­tent.

“I strongly dis­agree with this guid­ance as it in­cor­rectly in­ter­prets con­gres­sional in­tent demon­strated last week with Congress pass­ing leg­is­la­tion to keep the pro­gram op­er­at­ing un­til June 2019,” Ru­bio said in a state­ment, adding that the fed­eral flood in­sur­ance pro­gram is “vi­tal” to Florid­i­ans.


On Thurs­day, Florida’s Of­fice of In­sur­ance Reg­u­la­tion urged home­own­ers in the state to take ad­van­tage of pri­vate flood in­sur­ance plans in­stead, which it said were gen­er­ally of­fered at sim­i­lar or cheaper prices than NFIP plans.

OIR Com­mis­sioner David Alt­maier said Florida’s “unique ge­og­ra­phy” makes flood­ing a se­ri­ous threat to “vir­tu­ally ev­ery home­owner” in the state.

“As con­ver­sa­tions sur­round­ing the fu­ture of the fed­er­ally ad­min­is­tered Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram [NFIP] con­tinue, Com­mis­sioner Alt­maier and Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Jimmy Pa­tro­nis have con­tin­ued urg­ing home­own­ers to pur­chase pri­vate flood cov­er­age through the 29 in­sur­ers el­i­gi­ble to write pri­vate pri­mary per­sonal res­i­den­tial flood in­sur­ance in Florida,” the agency said in a state­ment.

Shan­non McGa­han, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ing af­fairs for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Re­al­tors, called the freeze “abrupt and ill-con­ceived.” The group es­ti­mates that FEMA’s rul­ing will hold up tens of thou­sands of clos­ings.


“Last week, Congress passed leg­is­la­tion to fully reau­tho­rize the NFIP through May,” McGa­han said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. “How­ever, to­day’s sur­prise FEMA rul­ing jeop­ar­dizes tens of thou­sands of home sales across Amer­ica, as NAR es­ti­mates up to 40,000 clos­ings are dis­rupted each month that the NFIP can­not is­sue flood in­sur­ance poli­cies.”

PAUL T. ERICK­SON Tri-City Her­ald/File photo

As the shut­down halts the is­suance of new flood in­sur­ance plans through the Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram, Florida of­fi­cials ad­vise home­own­ers to try pri­vate in­sur­ance.

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