FEMA’s Advisory Board Flood Elevation Info Puts Some Homeowners in Quandary
The state of New Jersey adopted Advisory Board Flood Elevation (ABFE) recommendations, with Governor Christie suggesting that the state’s municipalities do likewise. The ABFE will be the basis for the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), which determine the relative risk of flooding in each of the state’s coastal counties, and which establish where flood plan development regulations apply as well as who must buy flood insurance. It is the new Advisory Base Flood Elevations when adopted by FEMA which the FIRM will be based upon. Application of FIRMS is also a requirement for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is anticipated that the ABFE will not actually go into effect before the latter part of 2014.
Most affected communities have complied with the ABFE recommendations. But homeowners in communities that have not are now faced with a troublesome dilemma.If such homeowners rebuild according to current standards and then the ABFE is adopted at some later date, they will be subject to substantial flood insurance rates – rates anywhere from $3,500 to $31,000 per year depending the degree to which the property is above or below the flood maps. But at the same time, if these homeowners rebuild now, they are ineligible to receive Cost of Compliance (ICC) funding.

In short, many homeowners are feeling disenfranchised because they cannot rebuild according to the current code for fear of future insurance rate increases and they cannot obtain grants to raise their home until the ABFE is finally adopted.

Residential Real Estate Information Center

Understanding Short Sales

A "short sale" means to sell a house for less than the mortgage owed. Depending on the lender, the difference between what is received from a short sale and what is owed on the mortgage may be forgiven. However, even if your lender agrees to a short sale, the lender may not agree to forgive the debt entirely and may require you to pay the difference as a personal obligation.

It is important to appreciate debt which is forgiven is generally treated as income by the Internal Revenue Service. In 2007, Congress amended the tax code under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act to exclude the forgiveness of debt related to a short sale from federal income tax under certain conditions. This exclusion is set to expire on December 31, 2012. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act requires: 1) the home must be your principal residence and 2) the mortgage loan must have been used to buy, build or make substantial improvements to the home. Debt used to refinance your home may also qualify for this exclusion, but only to the extent that the principal balance of the old mortgage, immediately before the refinancing, would have qualified. If these conditions are met, the amount of forgiveness is not considered as income for federal taxing purposes.

Although a short sale is one way to avoid the high costs of foreclosure, it is not without positive and negative consequences. You should be aware a short sale may incur tax implications, impact your credit score, and may require a waiting period before you will qualify for a loan to purchase another home.