fair.png
Thursday July 7th, 2022 7:14AM

Housing market slows retreat from rising seas, bigger storms

By The Associated Press

Chuck and Terry Nowiski lived in their country-style farmhouse with a wrap-around porch for 36 years before it flooded. After hurricanes Matthew and Florence, they said “yes” to the state's offer to buy their place and tear it down.

Nearly three years later, they’re still waiting for the money. What's worse, they say it's for the home's value before the storms hit in 2016 and 2018. Now they worry they won't be able to buy the house they want with the federal disaster dollars they'll get.

“It would be pennies compared to what the market is,” said Terry Nowiski of the couple's house outside the town of Linden, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north of Fayetteville, North Carolina. “I’ve watched housing prices in the last year go from the upper $200,000s to $350,000 to $450,000.”

Hot real estate markets have made some homeowners wary of participating in voluntary flood buyout programs, impacting efforts to move people away from flooding from rising seas, intensifying hurricanes and more frequent storms.

Flood buyout programs typically purchase flood-prone homes, raze them and turn the property into green space. That can help prevent deaths and health problems associated with flooding, such as mold-related respiratory issues and emotional trauma.

Buyouts also are considered cheaper for taxpayers compared to repairing and rebuilding flooded houses — sometimes multiple times — with government payouts and federal flood insurance.

The programs are run by local and state governments that often use grants from federal agencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's provided almost $3.5 billion to help communities acquire nearly 50,000 properties in the last three decades.

“This is basically the tool that we have right now to help people move somewhere safer,” said Anna Weber, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “And so it should work as well as it possibly can.”

But some cities have seen waning interest in voluntary programs in the wake of rising home prices. Some states are even offering extra money to persuade people to move out of harm’s way.

People who take buyouts usually want to relocate to similar homes on higher ground in the same community. But some worry that buyout dollars won't be enough. Others reject them because private buyers' offers were too good to turn down. The houses stayed occupied — and at risk.

And while experts say housing markets are cooling off with rising interest rates, the challenge of finding affordable homes is likely to get worse.

“Replacement housing will only get more expensive because rising waters often means more competition for less housing,” said Jesse M. Keenan, a real estate professor at Tulane University’s School of Architecture. “Nothing will be easy. Nothing will be cheap.”

Concerns about finding affordable homes outside flood-prone areas aren't new, said Miyuki Hino, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s Department of City and Regional Planning.

Programs have traditionally struggled to help everyone relocate to similar housing, particularly those with lower incomes. Inflated housing prices have shined a greater spotlight on the limitations.

“In general, they weren’t designed from the start with the idea of, ‘How does this household end up in a better place in the end?’” Hino said. “The focus has been on removing the buildings from the flood plain.”

Buyout offers can be based on a home's fair-market value as well as its pre-storm worth. The latter generally stems from the assumption that a home is worth less because it's been damaged. But rising home prices complicated that assumption, while magnifying concerns about the often yearslong wait for FEMA dollars.

FEMA Press Secretary Jeremy Edwards said in a statement the process can be lengthy, in part, because the agency must determine that a buyout is cost-effective and complies with environmental and historic preservation requirements.

Edwards also said that FEMA now allows for an increased payment of up to $31,000 to assist homeowners in their search for comparable housing.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Sean Casten of Illinois and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced legislation last month that's designed to shorten wait times and offer more assistance.

“The science makes crystal clear that this climate-driven devastation will only get worse and more costly,” Casten said.

Meanwhile, the Nowiskis are waiting to know how much money they'll get for the buyout they agreed to in 2019.

Retired and in their mid-60s, they want to stay local without taking out a mortgage. Their daughter is nearby, and so is their nonprofit ministry to help troubled boys.

They're now considering selling to a “house flipper” or just staying in their home, which is near a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

North Carolina Emergency Management, which handles the buyout program where the Nowiskis live, said in an email that a state fund provides up to $50,000 to help people find similar homes when federal grants aren’t enough.

Keith Acree, an agency spokesperson, acknowledged that buyouts through federal programs can be a long process.

“Homeowners that want to get out of a property quickly will often pursue other methods, if they have the means,” he said.

Other states are also offering money on top of federal disaster dollars. In response to rising home prices, the South Carolina Office of Resilience teamed up with coastal Horry County to create a “market adjustment incentive" in February, said Ran Reinhard, the office's mitigation director.

The incentive ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 on top of the pre-storm home value offered by the buyout program. It appears to be making a difference.

Twenty-seven offers have been made, and 21 homeowners have signed on so far.

“We wanted to make it so a homeowner could remain a homeowner and in their community,” Reinhard said.

But in some areas, the housing market has been so competitive that private buyers have out-bid the government — even when it offers fair-market value.

North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County, which includes the city of Charlotte, is one such place. It created its own self-funded program to move people away from the Catawba River and other waterways that can overflow from heavy rains.

Rising home prices aren't making it easy. For example, the appraised buyout value of one Charlotte home rose from around $250,000 in 2020 to about $325,000 in late 2021. The property was then purchased by a private buyer for what county officials believe was as much as $100,000 over asking price.

“I would tell you probably it’s twice as hard to get to the closing table on flood plain buyouts,” said Dave Canaan, the county’s director of storm water services before leaving the position in early June.

In Chesapeake, Virginia, no one participated in the buyout program last year, said Robb Braidwood, coordinator of emergency management.

Many older homes were built along the Elizabeth River and tributaries that swell from heavy rains and storms that push water in from the Chesapeake Bay.

There's a fading sense of urgency because the last major flood was in 2016, Braidwood said. Another problem is the wait times for FEMA money and the limits of its grants. Increased home prices are also likely to blame.

“We do this once a year where we call out to everybody that floods," Braidwood said. “And we just hear crickets back.”

Joseph Noble, whose North Carolina home sits near a tributary of the Neuse River, rejected a FEMA-funded buyout offer after it flooded twice in 2016.

He said the money wasn't enough to buy a similar home nearby — and that was before prices heated up in the small city of Kinston, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Raleigh.

He worries about what kind of buyout offer he'd get if he floods this year.

“All it takes is one good hurricane that goes our way,” Noble said.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Personal Finance, AP Business - Real Estate
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Housing market slows retreat from rising seas, bigger storms
Hot real estate markets have made some homeowners wary of participating in voluntary flood buyout programs
8:05AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Drag story hour hosts, under attack, dig in their heels
Rhetoric against LGBTQ people is now targeting drag storytimes with interruptions and other protests around the country during Pride Month
7:30AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Gunman kills 3 seniors over potluck dinner at Alabama church
Police say a 70-year-old man who fatally shot three elderly people at a church potluck dinner in Alabama had attended services there previously
10:04PM ( 10 hours ago )
U.S. News
Bitcoin drops below $20,000 as crypto selloff quickens
The price of bitcoin has fallen below $20,000 for the first time since late 2020, in a fresh sign that the selloff in cryptocurrencies is deepening
8:14AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Major German art show opens amid antisemitism controversy
Germany’s president has appealed to the organizers of this year’s documenta fifteen art show to do more to tackle the antisemitism allegations surrounding the event
5:23AM ( 2 hours ago )
18 dead in India, Bangladesh floods; millions without homes
At least 18 people have died as severe floods ravaged northeastern India and Bangladesh, leaving millions of homes underwater and severing transport links
4:48AM ( 3 hours ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jan. 6 witnesses push Trump stalwarts back to rabbit hole
Instead of convincing Donald Trump's most loyal supporters of his misdeeds, the revelations from the hearings into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are prompting many of them to reassert their views that he was correct in falsely asserting a claim to victory
12:16AM ( 8 hours ago )
Bill Cosby civil trial jury must start deliberations over
After two days of deliberations, jurors in a civil trial deciding on sexual abuse allegations against Bill Cosby will have to start from scratch on Monday
9:35PM ( 10 hours ago )
Deputy: 2 officers had chance to shoot Uvalde school gunman
Two Uvalde city police officers told a sheriff's deputy that they passed up a fleeting chance to shoot the gunman for fear of hitting children outside an elementary school where the gunman killed 21 people
8:32PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP National News
Freedom riders' 1947 convictions vacated in North Carolina
Legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and three other men had their convictions vacated posthumously
8:31PM ( 11 hours ago )
Montana governor under fire for vacationing during flood
Montana's governor was not in Montana — or in the U.S. at all — when punishing floods hit Yellowstone National Park and communities on its fringes this week
8:25PM ( 11 hours ago )
Court rejects Trump-era EPA finding that weed killer safe
A federal appeals court has rejected a Trump administration finding that the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup does not pose a serious health risk and is “not likely” to cause cancer in humans
6:59PM ( 13 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Olympian Marcell Jacobs takes fashion break with Dsquared2
Caught between the pandemic and war in Europe, Milan luxury fashion designers on Friday open four days of mostly menswear previews for next spring and summer in a challenging economic climate
6:11PM ( 14 hours ago )
Former Tennessee governor buying majority share of Predators
The chairman of the Nashville Predators has agreed to sell the majority of his stake in the NHL team to former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam
4:51PM ( 15 hours ago )
Wall Street closes worst week since 2020 with slight gain
Wall Street closed out its most punishing week since the 2020 coronavirus crash with a meandering day of trading Friday that left it a bit higher
4:37PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business
Putin: Russian economy to overcome 'reckless' sanctions
President Vladimir Putin has said at Russia’s showpiece investment conference that the country’s economy will overcome sanctions that he called “reckless and insane.”
1:45PM ( 18 hours ago )
Stocks edge higher on Wall Street at close of a brutal week
Stocks edged higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday at the end of a brutal week
1:35PM ( 18 hours ago )
Stocks hold steady on Wall Street at close of a brutal week
Stocks are holding steady in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday at the end of a brutal week
12:08PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Foreigners pay more for gas in Hungary. It risks an EU fight
Hungary has placed price caps on fuel and some food and imposed special taxes on industries as the governments tries to ease an economic downturn and the highest inflation in nearly 25 years
5:53AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Interview: Biden says a recession is 'not inevitable'
President Joe Biden says the American people are “really, really down” after a tumultuous two years with the coronavirus pandemic, volatility in the economy and now surging gasoline prices that are hitting family budgets
9:44PM ( 1 day ago )
This is how a higher Fed rate could affect your finances
Record low-interest mortgages are long gone
4:40PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Retail sales in May slip 0.3% amid surging inflation
Americans trimmed their spending unexpectedly in May compared with the month before, underscoring how surging inflation on daily necessities like gas is causing them to be more cautious about buying discretionary items
3:09PM ( 2 days ago )
Retail sales in May fall 0.3% amid surging inflation
Americans cut their spending unexpectedly in May compared with the month before, underscoring how surging inflation on daily necessities like gas is causing them to be more cautious about buying discretionary items
8:52AM ( 2 days ago )
Average long-term US mortgage rates edge down, still over 5%
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged down slightly this week, though interest rates on the key 30-year home loan remain at decade-high levels
10:05AM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Business - Real Estate
Drag story hour hosts, under attack, dig in their heels
Rhetoric against LGBTQ people is now targeting drag storytimes with interruptions and other protests around the country during Pride Month
7:30AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Gunman kills 3 seniors over potluck dinner at Alabama church
Police say a 70-year-old man who fatally shot three elderly people at a church potluck dinner in Alabama had attended services there previously
10:04PM ( 10 hours ago )
Deputy: 2 officers had chance to shoot Uvalde school gunman
Two Uvalde city police officers told a sheriff's deputy that they passed up a fleeting chance to shoot the gunman for fear of hitting children outside an elementary school where the gunman killed 21 people
8:32PM ( 11 hours ago )
Freedom riders' 1947 convictions vacated in North Carolina
Legendary civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and three other men had their convictions vacated posthumously
8:31PM ( 11 hours ago )
Montana governor under fire for vacationing during flood
Montana's governor was not in Montana — or in the U.S. at all — when punishing floods hit Yellowstone National Park and communities on its fringes this week
8:25PM ( 11 hours ago )