As a Realtor in the Killington area, the impact of Biggert-Waters on property values is already evident. On the recent sale of a property in Woodstock, the previous owner paid $1700/year for flood insurance. Under Biggert-Waters, the new owners rates went up to $8800 - a five-fold increase in the premium. A property listed in Chittenden, which is bordered by East Creek and was placed in the Zone A flood designation area by FEMA when the updated maps came out in 2008 will see premiums rise from $672/year to as much as $4100/year, even though flood waters have never touched the structure, which is at grade on an elevated site on the property. Priced at $129,500, this charming little home has been shown more times than any property in the area, but buyers in this price range quickly realize they can't afford the insurance, putting the home out of reach for the average buyer. To know what the actual insurance rate will be, the owner must hire an engineer to obtain an elevation certificate, adding to the cost of selling a home.
For those who don't know about Zone A designations, it means that FEMA has not conducted flood studies and has not provided any base flood elevation data, so its more complicated and more expensive to get an elevation certificate, because the surveyor must be an engineer who can calculate the base flood elevation, which may require hydrological studies of the area. It seems unjust that FEMA can effectively tell a property owner we havent established any base flood elevations for your property, but we looked at aerial photos of your property and we think youre in a flood zone, so now you have to get flood insurance, thank you very much and if you disagree, you can hire an engineer at your expense to prove us wrong.
The National Flood Insurance Program has served an important function in preserving and maintaining affordable housing in America, but Biggert-Waters has placed immense financial burdens on the same property owners for whom it was designed to protect and needs to be revisited by Congress. That FEMA has authority to designate a property as being in a high risk area such as Zone A, thereby costing property owners thousands of dollars in insurance expense and lowering their property values without providing any base flood elevation data, is akin to an illegal government taking and should be prohibited in any new legislation being considered.