Housing market slows retreat from rising seas, bigger storms – The Associated Press

Housing market slows retreat from rising seas, bigger storms – 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, …….

Source: https://apnews.com/1184fba64ddc4aa4a64ef841003ea2b9