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Realtor Blames Flood Insurance Rates for Drop in Pinellas Home Sales


As Congress wrangles over whether to delay huge increases to flood insurance premiums, Pinellas County homeowners are living with the reality of flood insurance they can’t afford and homes that no one will buy.

Statewide in Florida, home sales were up 8.6 percent in December according to John Sebree, vice president of the Florida Realtors Association.

Yet, Sebree told the Florida Cabinet Thursday that for that same month of December, Pinellas County home sales dropped 8.4 percent and there was an 11 percent decrease in November.

He blamed the uncertainty caused by huge rate increases in the federal flood insurance program.

“Pinellas County is seen as ground zero for the problems related to flood insurance,” Sebree said. “If you have a house built in the 1950s on a concrete slab, there’s no way to raise that house if the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA tell you you’re under a new map and you need to raise it by 2 inches.”

Sebree’s real estate analysis showed no home sales in December in 26 different zip code areas in Pinellas. He worries the flood insurance problem will affect even more regions in Florida if a solution isn’t found.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.