Flood Insurance Program Renewal a Top Priority for NAR

November 9, 2016

With the National Flood Insurance Program due to expire in less than a year unless Congress acts to extend it, the National Association of REALTORS® has embarked on an intensive campaign to educate lawmakers about why the critical program should be reauthorized.

"The good news is I think we're poised as an organization," said Austin Perez, NAR senior policy representative for environmental issues. "This is going to be one of our top priorities next year."

Congress has made little progress toward reauthorizing the program, which is due to end on Sept. 30, 2017, and has a history of difficulty getting long-term funding, Perez said Friday during a legislative update at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was last extended in 2012, when President Obama signed legislation to fund it that was four years in the making and was passed only after 18 month-to-month extensions and multiple temporary shutdowns. The extended process created uncertainty for thousands of home buyers and sellers, a situation NAR hopes to avoid repeating, Perez said.

"We're going to push as hard as we can up on the Hill, and we are not going to wait for the program to be shut down again," Perez said. "Members of Congress need to understand the importance of flood insurance in the real estate market."

NAR has already provided testimony to the House and Senate on the importance of the flood insurance program and held meetings with lawmakers and committee staff to discuss the insurance program, Perez said.

If it looks as if Congress will not pass legislation to extend the flood insurance program before the deadline, NAR will press for passage of a short-term funding package as a stopgap, Perez added. NAR is also talking to officials at FEMA to see if the agency can take regulatory steps to keep the program operating, and is urging individual states to help make flood insurance available to their residents. "We want to make sure that there is flood insurance in all markets at all times," said Perez.

—By Sam Silverstein, REALTOR® Magazine