Biggert-Waters behind drop in home prices

August 22, 2014 at 10:13 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Biggert-Waters behind drop in home prices
St. Charles Parish experienced the only decline in home prices in the New Orleans Metro area in the first half of 2014 as compared to 2013, according to the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors.

However, overall home prices declined by just 2 percent and local realtors are attributing that to the flood insurance scare posed by the Biggert-Waters Act. At one time, according to FEMA, the act threatened to raise flood insurance prices to nearly $30,000 in some areas of the parish.  

The parts of the parish that saw the greatest decline in home prices were areas, like Des Allemands, where many homeowners were told their flood insurance rates may soon surpass their mortgage payments.

Carole Schonberg, a realtor with the Boutte office of Latter & Blum, said the decline in home prices in the parish was directly related to the specter of extremely high insurance rates.

“[The problem] was the uncertainty in what the flood rates were going to do,” she said.

Jenny Lendle, a Luling realtor with Keller Williams, agreed with Schonberg’s assessment.

“People were pretty nerve-wracked. I had people that wanted to move and did not move. It was all because people were worried about the flood zone changes,” she said.

Schonberg was quick to add that since the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was passed in March, which fixed many of the most troubling aspects of the Biggert-Waters Act such as heightened flood insurance rates, the market has settled down and pretty much returned to normal.

“Now things have cleared up. It is like old news, things are better,” she said. “The market in general is really strong and rates are down. People ought to be jumping into the market like crazy.”

Lendle also noted that she homes have been spending less time on the market.

“I’ve been telling people I think we are somewhat of a seller’s market…there is a not a whole lot of inventory,” she said.

Lendle believes the housing market will fully recover soon.“I think it is really about the insurance worries. We have great schools and people from Metairie and Jefferson Parish want to come here for the schools,” she said. “People who are already here want to stay.”

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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