Relief to come from rising flood insurance hikes?

12:04 AM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- Congress may have a solution for rising flood insurance premiums, but it is not enough for some homeowners.

Rising flood insurance rates to help FEMA meet a $24 billion deficit is costing homeowners thousands of dollars more in flood insurance premiums. Some homeowners are selling.

"It's been a wonderful place to live," says Don Bryson. He has lived on the water in his Sorrento Shores home for 24 years. Bryson is selling to downsize, but with flood insurance rates ready to skyrocket, he says it's good timing.

He says, "My flood insurance is $665 a year. I'm sure when things change, if they do change, it'll be $10,000."

Bryson says he can't pay that much.  "I'm retired," he says.

It's an insurance hike in a waterfront community homeowners say has never flooded.

"We get great drainage here," says real estate broker Lauden Pitts. He and his parents developed Sorrento Shores in the 1960s. While the flood insurance hikes impact homebuyers needing a mortgage, Pitts says the solution for some is to pay cash or self insure.

Pitts says, "65% of our deals are cash."

U.S. House representatives have passed a $1 trillion spending bill, suspending higher flood insurance rates for homeowners during this first year of premium hikes provided they haven't been billed yet.

"We've accomplished a small step to a solution of the huge flood insurance hikes, but we still have a long way to go," says Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Pitts says, "I just call it stirring."

Pitts says it's too early to celebrate. He says real relief is in the Senate's bill suspending insurance increases for four years while more studies are done.

"They need to study it more to find out where is the area that does get impacted, making adjustments in the premiums," says Pitts.

Bryson says, "I hope people can continue to live on the water in Florida."

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