Flood Insurance Update March 2019

FEMA flood insurance plan might upend premiums

WASHINGTON – March 13, 2019 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working on a plan to update and extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which Congress may or may not go along with as it considers new flood insurance policy. The proposal could change the way NFIP calculates the rates for homeowners, possibly saving money for some people but raising the cost significantly for others – notably those in flood areas or facing other risk factors.
Rather than levy premiums based on the dollar amount of insurance a homeowner wants, NFIP might operate more like property insurance, weighing a roster of risk variables and personalizing premiums.
Currently, flood insurance rates are generally based on the amount of coverage a homeowner wants and the risk of flood faced – largely whether the home is inside or outside a FEMA-designated flood zone.
Florida – home to about 35 percent of all NFIP policies – could see a major impact from proposed changes if they become official, though plan details have not yet been announced, and it’s unclear how any specific homeowner might be affected. However, it’s likely that homeowners in flood zones would see an increase in their flood insurance costs.
When asked by Bloomberg to comment on proposed changes, FEMA offered a statement by David Maurstad, deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation. He said the new system “will help customers better understand their flood risk and provide them with more accurate rates based on their unique risk.” According to the theory, homeowners who understand their flood risk will be more willing to buy coverage.
Bloomberg says FEMA’s document offers an example of two homes in a 100-year flood plain. One may sit near the edge and be threatened by only one type of flood event. FEMA says this home might see its costs drop by 57 percent. A second home in the middle of a flood plain facing multiple types of flood threats, though, could see its flood insurance costs more than double.
However, a FEMA spokesperson also said that some of the information given to Bloomberg is no longer accurate – but didn’t say which parts.
FEMA calls its new flood-pricing proposal Risk Rating 2.0 and says it’s being released at a time when climate change is influencing the national program, which is already in deep debt.
Congress is simultaneously working on its own flood insurance update, and committees meeting this week will discuss it. It’s unclear how much FEMA’s plan could influence Congressional actions. However, FEMA says it has the authority to update NFIP on its own even if Congress fails to pass a comprehensive plan.
Source: Bloomberg, March 12, 2019, Christopher Flavelle


Fannie Mae* has announced a new program that rewards those with high credit scores of 720 or more, even when they don’t have enough money for a regular down payment.  This new incredible program offers these amazing features:

1)   Only 1% of the purchase price as down payment.  This money MUST be from the borrower’s own funds.
2)   This program is for singe family residences only, but can be a single-family home, a townhome, condo or a villa.
3)   Fannie Mae literally gives the borrower 2% of the price (with a maximum of $5,000) of a single-family property to use as the remainder of the down payment.
4)   The Borrower must be an Owner Occupant — this program is not for investors and there cannot be a non-occupant co-borrower helping to get a loan.
5)   In some areas, the maximum income must be less than $59,800, but there are many areas where there is not an income limit.
6)   The closing costs can be a gift, or the Seller can pay the closing costs up to 3% of the purchase price.

So what does all of this mean?  Let me give you an example:  Let’s say you want to buy a house for $250,000.  Normally, you would need at least $12,500 for a down payment (this would be 5% down for a conventional mortgage) and about 3% of the purchase price for closing costs, or $7,500.  So cash out of pocket would be about $20,000. 

With this amazing program, you only have to pay 1% out of your pocket, or $2,500!!  Your closing costs could either be gifted to you, or it could be arranged for the Seller to pay 3% of the purchase price towards your closing costs.  Now keep in mind that in order for the Seller to do this, the price would have to reflect the increase of costs to the Seller, so would most likely be 3% higher than it could be without any closing costs.  However, this is a very normal procedure that allows the buyer to pay less money up front, and to finance the closing costs as part of the loan.

This program makes home ownership very reachable.  If you are interested in learning more about this fantastic program, call Scott Chinchar, Clearwater Mortgage, 727-259-5900 and tell him that you read about this on the Ryan Realty website!

*Fannie Mae is a private, shareholder-owned company created by Congress in 1938 to bolster the housing industry during the depression. Fannie Mae facilitates homeownership by adding liquidity to the mortgage market when it purchases loans from lenders who use the funds received to make additional loans. Fannie Mae finances mortgage purchases by issuing its own bonds or by selling mortgages it already owns to financial institutions.



I’m sure we have all heard stories of people being ripped off by unethical criminals posing as Contractors, handymen, roofers, etc. So let’s be careful and not have that happen to us. Here are some suggestions from my many years of hiring people.

1) The best idea is to get a personal referral from someone you know and trust. Like your Realtor, a family member, friend or co-worker for instance.

2) Always get three bids and compare the information. The cheapest isn’t necessarily the best.

3) Ask lots of questions so that you are sure the person you are going to hire understands what work you need done.

4) NEVER hire someone that comes to your door saying they were referred by a neighbor. This is most likely a scam artist.

5) Make sure that the person you hire has a license. You can check that easily by going to MYFLORIDALICENSE.COM or SUNBIZ.ORG.

6) Check to make sure the person you are going to hire has insurance, so they are covered in case they get injured on your property.

7) NEVER pay a Contractor or anyone else in full, or with a large payment, up front. Instead, give them a small down payment, with a schedule of how payments will be made as the work progresses. Don’t pay in full until the job is complete.

8) Get a Contract in writing with specific information about what the job entails. The more specific you are about what you want done, even if you want a certain brand, color, etc. have that writing into the Contract too.

9) Make sure that all of the contact information, including the company name, an address and a phone number, are on the quote with the Contractor’s information.

10) Have a clause in the Contract about having any changes in writing.

11) Make sure that the Contractor is going to get a permit, if one is required, to do the work at your home.

12) If there is a warranty, make sure that is also written into the contract.

13) When the work is done, have the Contractor write “PAID IN FULL” across the contract once you have completed the payment. That way there will not be a question in the future about payment.

If you take these precautions, you will be protecting your home, your belongings and yourself from being ripped off by a scam artist. And there are a lot of them out there. But there are also a lot of good, hard working people and those are the ones we want to work with.



I think that permits are one of the huge mysteries of the Universe. Do you need one or not? What work should have a permit and what can be done without a permit? Many people just ignore the fact that permits are required. I’ve seen people replace their roofs on the weekend to avoid getting a permit.

But what does this all mean to a buyer when it is time to buy? Or to the Seller that did not get permits? Let me see if I can straighten out some of these questions by providing some basic information about permits.

I had a home owner practically fighting with me because she had enclosed about half of her garage to make a bedroom and bath and had not gotten a permit. That square footage was not listing as living space, so her house appeared smaller on paper than it actually was. That meant it was not worth as much as she thought it was. She insisted it was ok because a Contractor had told her that she did not need a permit to do that remodel. Well, if you look below, remodeling and additions are definitely listed on the PERMIT NEEDED list.

First of all, here is a list of items that DO need permits according to the City of Clearwater:

  • Sheds and gazebos
  • Air Conditioning
  • Carports
  • Decks
  • Electrical alterations, changes or additions
  • Fences or retaining walls
  • Garage doors
  • New single-family homes or duplexes
  • Rehabilitation of an existing structure
  • Remodeling and Additions
  • Roofs
  • Screen porches, patios or enclosures
  • Siding, soffits and fascia
  • Site grading, regrading
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Tree removal
  • Water heaters, new water softeners
  • Windows and doors, even if they are the same size

Some Items that DO NOT require permits are:

  • Carpet, vinyl and tile flooring installation
  • Painting, paneling over existing walls, or wallpaper
  • Kitchen cabinets WITHOUT plumbing or electrical work

The State of Florida requires all construction to be done by licensed contractors. The only exception to this rule is that as an Owner of your home, you may obtain a permit. However, the homeowner cannot lease or sell that property for a year after the completion of the project.

If you would like more information about permits, you can pick up The Residential Permitting Guide, a Simple Guide to Building Permits for the Homeowner, at the City offices on Myrtle Ave.


In the past, the only way you could get renovation money was with an FHA (Federal Housing Authority) loan, and you had to be an owner occupant.  But that is all changed now with the announcement of the new HomeStyle Renovation Program being offered by Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association).  The new loans are available to owner occupants as well as investors, government institutions and non-profits, which opens up an entirely new facet to real estate investing.  You can use the HomeStyle Loan to make a new purchase or you can even re-finance your current home to make improvements that increase the value of your property.

Renovation/repair costs up to 50% of the “After Completed” Value of the property are allowed, and there is no minimum dollar amount for repairs.  Even luxury items such as pools, spas, etc, are included on this new way to finance home improvements.  Any item that adds value to your property and is permanently affixed to the property is allowed.

There are many programs available with terms differing for owner and investors, and in all cases a licensed contractor that is approved for the program must be used.

For more information, please visit Fannie Mae’s website: 



What is happening with flood insurance?  This is a common question and one that has prompted several of my clients to avoid homes in areas that may require flood insurance.  A few years ago, there was a huge scare that flood insurance costs were going to rise so high that many people would be in danger of losing their homes, just because they couldn’t afford to pay the majorly increased flood insurance that was looming.

The National Flood Insurance Program came to the rescue.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations.

However, the NFIP is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2017.  Unless Congress acts to extend this program, flood insurance costs may rise substantially.

Now is a good time to let your Congressman know your thoughts about flood insurance.

For more information on flood insurance and NFIP, you can go to their website:



We all depend on our credit when we want to make purchases, but I find that many people are confused about how to increase your credit scores, what affects your credit score, and what actions you should not take.


So here are some basic tips to use to help you with your credit score.


  • If you have a credit account that you no longer want to use, DO NOT CANCEL the account. Simply cut up the card and forget that you have it.  When you CANCEL an account, it acts as a big negative against your credit.  Strange, but true.  Just don’t use that card any longer and leave the account open, very simple!


  • Keep your balances to less than 50% of your total credit in each account. So for instance, if you have a $5,000 limit on a credit card, always do your best to keep the balance on that card under $2,500.  Having more than 50% of the allowable balance works against your credit score and can lower it substantially. 


  • If you have applied for a large purchase, such as a mortgage on a house, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING ELSE ON CREDIT! For instance, if you are waiting for approval on a mortgage, don’t go out and buy a car!  I literally had a client that did this once, and it totally made it so that he could no longer buy the house he wanted!  Just wait until after you close on your house, and then make those other purchases. 


  • Several inquiries on your credit in a short amount of time will lower your credit score. Now, don’t panic, because in order to get credit, your credit HAS to get checked.  One or two credit inquiries will not lower your score.  But it is when you have several that your score will suffer.  This is not a big hit, maybe a few points, but it is something to consider if you have marginal credit required for a purchase, such as a mortgage.


  • The best way to improve your credit score is to open three new accounts, use them for purchases you would normally make, like for the gas in your car, and then pay them off totally each month. If you did this for six months, your credit score would be greatly increased.  Now this does not eliminate any derogatory accounts, but it will raise your credit score.


  • Always do your best to make your payments on time. When you don’t, not only will your credit score suffer, but you will most likely see interest rates soar to the highest heights of interest possible!  That alone can make your payments out of reach.  So be sure to make your payments on time. 


  • If you get into trouble on an account, (or more than one) call the company that you have the debt with. It always helps to let them know you are in trouble and to see if there is any way that they can arrange to help you catch up, or to make your payments.  You may be surprised that they are willing to work something out with you.  More communication is ALWAYS better than less!


Being wise about your credit scores can turn out to be a very valuable asset for you in life.


 I wish you all the best in 2016 – hopefully this will be a very prosperous year for you!

Freddie Mac Issues Warning to Homebuyers About Credit Score Scams

WASHINGTON – Nov. 10, 2015 – Freddie Mac issued a warning for homebuyers about scams that entice them by promising to raise their credit score in exchange for money.

“Who doesn’t want the highest credit score possible to garner the most-favored terms?” Freddie Mac notes on its website. “For many Americans with consumer credit negatively impacted by the housing crisis and fluctuating economy, it’s easy to be lured by the promise of a raised credit score,” Freddie Mac says. “Schemes that falsely raise credit scores will land borrowers in scalding hot water – as well as cost you time and money combating both origination- and servicing-related fraud.”

Freddie Mac highlighted three types of common fraud schemes to raise credit scores:

1. Disputing credit with credit bureaus
A new program with FICO – called FICO Score Open Access for Credit & Financial Counseling – was created to help borrowers who have credit management problems by providing FICO Scores along with credit education material to help consumers understand credit scoring and learn more about financial management. However, some fraudsters are using the program in a scam.

“(Scammers) may direct a borrower to contact credit repositories repeatedly to dispute previously defaulted debt,” Freddie Mac warns. “The fraudster hopes the creditor will miss responding to one of the disputes and the defaulted debt will disappear temporarily, triggering a jump in the borrower’s credit score. The borrower may qualify for – and close on – a new mortgage before the credit report correctly reflects the defaulted debt and the borrower’s true credit score.”

2. Claiming identity theft falsely
Some companies encourage buyers to falsely claim identity theft on their loan application in order to have debt removed from their credit report.

“Some borrowers who falsely claimed identify theft have gone as far as providing affidavits of identity theft and police reports,” Freddie Mac writes. “Of course, lenders take these claims seriously and investigate. In some instances, they discover that the ‘police report’ is fake, never actually filed, or from a police department that doesn’t exist.”

3. Misusing credit protection numbers
Using a credit privacy number – an alternative for a Social Security number most commonly used by celebrities and politicians to hide previous credit issues – can be a dangerous move.

“Some consumers with poor credit acquire a CPN with the intent of creating a new, clean – and misleading – credit profile,” Freddie Mac notes. “CPNs were not created for this purpose, and mortgage loans originated using a CPN are ineligible for sale to Freddie Mac. Borrowers who use a CPN with the hope of leaving their bad credit histories in the rear view mirror are in for a rude awakening.”

As the Federal Trade Commission bluntly points out, “By using a stolen number as your own, the con artists have involved you in identity theft,’ for which you may face legal trouble.”

Source: “Freddie Mac Issues Credit-Scam Warning to Potential Home Owners,” HousingWire (Nov. 6, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

ZOMBIES AND BOOMERANGS????? What the heck do they have to do with Real Estate?

Well, these are just two of the ‘new’ real estate terms that have come about with our changing real estate market.

Zombie homes are the ones that have been abandoned by their owners, and are not being taken care of by anyone. Eventually the bank will take over basic lawn care and ensuring the house is locked, but these houses can remain empty and ignored for years before the banks show up. That is an invitation for break-ins, homeless people moving in, drug dealers and many other scenarios. I watched a Zombie house that was literally ignored for nearly SIX years. One day I noticed there was a motorcycle with a cover in the driveway, and it stayed there for some time. Sure enough some guy had moved onto the porch and was blatantly parking his motorcycle in the driveway. I guess he thought no one would notice! Another neighbor had alerted the police, and one day I actually saw him and snapped a couple of quick pictures and sent them on to the Police. That was the end of his ‘free rent’. Anyway, I digress…! ;-} The bottom line is that Zombie homes can pop up anywhere, it doesn’t matter how much they are worth.

Boomerangs is the new term for unfortunate home owners that lost their homes in this past real estate recession, and have now had enough time to re-built credit so they start in the direction of purchasing their own home again. It was a rough ride for a lot of people, so it is really nice to know that the nightmare can end and decent people can actually live the dream of home ownership again.

Just a quick tip — If your credit was ruined (or if you have never built up credit), here is a way to quickly build/re-build good credit:
1) Obtain three credit cards. It doesn’t matter if they are secured with your bank, or for a retail store that will give you a card. Just get three sources of credit set up. It does not matter how low the credit limit is.
2) Charge something each month on the new cards that you would normally be paying for –- like gas for your car for instance. Then — and this is the IMPORTANT part –- pay off each card in full every month.
3) If you do this with three sources of credit for only six months, you will be amazed at the difference in your credit scores.

Once you have good credit again, it may be time to consider buying a new home. Feel free to call me so that we can explore this option for you. In the meantime, I hope you can avoid the Zombies! :)) Pam Ryan Anderson

Current market conditions

For 38 straight months, real estate prices in the Tampa Bay area have increased. The market remains very active with lots of listings and buyers. The time has come once again for buyers to jump when they see something they like, because it probably will not be around tomorrow. It is also still a great market for investors, and competition is tough!

Interest rates are staying in the mid to high 3% range, an amazing opportunity for anyone that can qualify to purchase a home. The short sales have tapered off, but there are still quite a few bank foreclosures to be had. Despite this, it is still a decent time for owners who want to sell their homes, with the way prices have steadily climbed over the last three years.

For more specific information, please feel free to send us a message or give us a call!