Published in USA Today

We need a National Flood Insurance Program that’s fair both to policyholders and to taxpayers. To that end, the National Association of Realtors® agrees that premiums should accurately reflect a property’s specific risk of flood.

What we oppose are dramatic and sudden premium hikes on homeowners who bought their home before they knew the true risk.

Homeowners and buyers depend on FEMA’s flood maps to determine the flood risk on a property based on what “zone” it’s in. Unfortunately, FEMA’s flood maps are often inaccurate and not reflective of true flood risk. The result is that some homeowners pay too much, while others pay too little.

That’s a problem.

At the same time, it can take decades to update the maps. As a result, it’s not uncommon for homeowners in a lower-risk zone to suddenly discover they’ve been mapped into a higher-risk zone, which means higher premiums.

Additionally, in communities across the country you’ll find homeowners who spent tens of thousands of dollars raising their property to mitigate flood risk, which protects them and their families as well as taxpayer dollars.

But imagine a homeowner who raises his property 2 feet to meet code, only to discover a few months later that FEMA updated its maps and now requires a 3-foot increase. With the stroke of a pen, the homeowner’s investment is wiped away.

Homeowners who make responsible decisions based on the best available information don’t deserve for their yearly premiums to rise to $10,000 or more overnight when FEMA updates a map.

Instead, rates should phase in gradually over time so homeowners have the opportunity to consider their options before reaching a “full risk” rate.

Realtors understand that homeowners will see premium increases in the years ahead. This is necessary to protect American taxpayers. We simply believe that those increases should be gradual, not sudden, and avoid punishing homeowners who take proactive steps to stay out of harm’s way.

It’s a matter of basic fairness.

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