Real Estate in Brief: Flood Insurance Program extension, new down payment options and more

by Morgan Mereday

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate granted the National Flood Insurance Program another six-month extension while the House of Representatives granted the same program an extension of seven days.

“NAR is relieved that authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program has not lapsed, as Congress moved last night to extend the program through December 7, and we urge the House and Senate to swiftly and purposefully work towards a more sustainable extension over the coming week,” said Shannon McGahn, NAR’s senior vice president of government affairs in a press statement.

The NFIP is a government-initiated program directed towards providing affordable flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners. According to FEMA, the program encourages communities to endorse and reinforce floodplain management regulations in attempt to minimize the cost of insurance.   

Although the program has received a short-term extension, Sen. John Kennedy stated his frustration with Washington’s inefficiency, and the revival of the program without long-standing resolutions. While the House voted to prolong the program by one-week, other lawmakers have been unsuccessfully attempting reform the program only to be granted its seventh temporary extension.  

“As we work toward passing a long-term reauthorization of NFIP, we much give certainty to all those families who depend on it by not allowing any lapses,” said Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in a statement. “While this one-week extension is certainly not ideal, I am committed to keep working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to find a long-term solution that provides affordability and sustainability for policyholders and strong protections for taxpayers” 

In other real estate news:  

  • Freddie Mac reported it will be expanding the parameters for its line of “sweat equity” home loans it calls Home Possible. The expansion will allow borrowers to utilize their construction expertise to cover down payment and closing costs when buying a home. The Home Possible sweat equity opportunity provides an additional form of down payment outside of cash to borrowers and backs the restoration of aging homes.  
  • The Residential Real Estate Council announced the winners of its annual awards, paying tribute to members who have made a lasting impact on the Council and real estate industry this past year. The awards were delivered Nov. 3 during the Council’s annual meeting at the InterContinental in Boston, according to a press release from the RREC. 
  • Airbnb announced its plans to expand business beyond vacation rentals with new initiative it calls “Backyard.” The home sharing company will begin the project by designing homes and described the initiative to Fast Company as “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes.” It’s not yet clear what exactly the initiative will entail or whether it will even make it to market, but it could relate to new modes of prefabricated housing design and make it possible to buy a small housing unit that fits in a backyard to be rented out via Airbnb.

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