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Flood Insurance Jumping Sevenfold Depresses U.S. Home Values

Monthly premiums for more than 1 million homeowners are set to increase due to a rewrite by the U.S. Congress last year of the federal flood insurance program. Home prices in flood zones around the country are declining as potential buyers balk at the premiums.

Rangel Dockery and her husband bought a waterfront house in Florida four months ago, assuming their $2,000-a-year flood-insurance premium would remain about the same. After reading recently about a change in the federal flood program, they checked on next year’s rates and were stunned: Their bill will grow to $14,000 annually.

Now the elementary school teacher and her husband, Clint, an information technology specialist, are considering selling their two-bedroom St. Pete Beach home, probably at a loss, because she said they can’t afford the bill, and their mortgage requires flood coverage.

“It was very frustrating to finally have what we’ve worked hard for all of our life,” Rangel Dockery, 52, said. “I feel like the rules were changed in the middle of the game. And unfortunately, we can’t play by the new rules.”

Monthly premiums for more than 1 million homeowners are set to increase due to a rewrite by the U.S. Congress last year of the federal flood insurance program. As a result, home prices in flood zones around the country are declining as potential buyers balk at the premiums, said Moe Veissi, a Miami real estate agent who led the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors last year.

Federal flood insurance covers $1.3 trillion of property in all 50 states, with Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California and New Jersey making up two-thirds of all policies, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the program.

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