Flood insurance skyrockets, making Louisville homes 'unsellable'
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After months of looking for a home, Web developer Hunter Rose thought he had finally found the one: a two-bedroom in Germantown. In fact, it was just days away from becoming his.
"It has a garage, which is hard to find in this area," Rose said. "Had a nice back yard. The neighborhood seemed really good. Inside there wasn't a whole lot of fixing up I had to do. Overall, it was a really solid buy for my first home."
The deal never closed. So, what happened?
Hundreds of feet away, at the rear of properties across the street, runs Beargrass Creek, which has put all of the properties along Schiller Avenue in the flood plain -- meaning Rose would have to buy flood insurance.
Until recently, that wasn't that big of a deal. But, after the nation's Flood Insurance Program was drowning from shelling out billions after storms like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act.
The end result? Premiums on new flood insurance policies shot as high as a geyser.
"It was going to be $650 a year. It was going to $7,000 a year," Rose said about the increase, which would have doubled Hunter's monthly payments.
He couldn't run away quickly enough.
This situation has caused sales, which had been going like hotcakes in this housing market, to come to a screeching halt.
When WDRB asked realtor Marilyn Helvey if this has basically made homes unsellable, she responded: "Right, they're blighted properties."
Helvey is selling the Germantown home for her daughter, but she's had no offers since Rose tried to purchase the house five months ago. Helvey says she has two other homes in the same boat.
"You can't put the debt that people have incurred in coastal areas on the backs of people like us in Louisville," Helvey said.
Helvey says the legislation that caused the huge hikes was flawed from the word "go," with seemingly no thought as to the impact it would have.
She also says it sailed far under the radar, taking agents around the state completely by surprise.
"It was kind of funny," she said. "For a while it seemed like I was the only one who knew anything about it. I'm calling real estate attorneys and I'm calling mortgage people and they're saying 'No, you've got that all wrong.' Well, it wasn't wrong."
Now, after an outcry by 80,000 realtors from across the country, Congress is looking into reversing the hike. But, until that happens, this home and many others will likely go unsold.
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