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New Orleans woman says soaring insurance forcing her to sell $1.1 million Uptown home

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — Many Louisianans are feeling the pain of soaring homeowners insurance premiums, and there are projections things could worsen. According to Insurify, an online insurance marketplace, the cost of home insurance in Louisiana could jump another 23 percent by the end of this year, the steepest increase in the country.

Cheron Brylski has had enough. When Brylski and her husband moved into their 3,400-square foot home on Coliseum Street in Uptown New Orleans nearly 30 years ago, they poured everything they had into it.

“This was our forever home,” Brylski said. “So, we invested a lot of our sweat and tears into renovating it.”

The couple bought the home in 1995. For two decades, they made many memories in their home, until Cheron’s husband Harold died in 2015. The home still is filled with pictures of him and images he captured as a photographer. Brylski said she never imagined selling the house, but the soaring cost of Louisiana homeowners insurance is forcing her to face a sobering financial reality.

“The other thing that really started to hit me was living within my retirement budget,” she said. “My property taxes are high, but they’re frozen because of my age at this point. But my property insurance is very, very high.”

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Brylski said it now costs nearly $15,000 a year to insure her home. She owns her home outright, but said that between property tax and property insurance, she has been paying $2,500 each month to stay in her home. She said it has become unsustainable.

Recently and reluctantly, she decided she had to sell her home of almost 30 years because of the insurance cost.

“It’s, basically, making living in a house that I own — and I own outright — impossible to stay here,” she said. “And I’m not the only one in New Orleans experiencing that. You can drive around this neighborhood and others and see a ton of ‘For Sale’ signs.”

It’s hard to put an exact number on how many people in the New Orleans metro area are selling their homes because of rising insurance, but it’s something the local real estate market is noticing.

“There is certainly some of that,” said Mark Rodi, a broker and owner of RE/MAX Affiliates in Metairie. “What the percentage of the market that is, I can’t tell you exactly. I hear it from the agents who surround us here at the office, that there are some of those.”

Rodi has been in the real estate business for almost 50 years and says there can be many reasons why someone decides to sell their home. He said he’s not surprised if sky-high insurance premiums are among them.

“No, I’m not actually, because there are a lot of widows and widowers who are on fixed incomes or some kind or social security. And when you have an insurance policy that doubles or better that you weren’t expecting, it’s going to affect your lifestyle,” Rodi said.

Brylski said, “Downsizing is the only option for me, and there’s a number of reasons for that. Truthfully, the biggest is financial. It’s not just the fact that I’m getting older. … I have battled with this decision for over three years.”

Brylski has listed her four-bedroom, 2½-bath home at $1.1 million, but finding someone who can afford to buy and insure it is another matter. So far, she’s only shown it to one prospective buyer.

But Louisiana’s insurance crisis cuts across many income brackets.

Habitat for Humanity is requesting more than $2 million from the New Orleans City Council to help more than 100 owners of its affordable houses avoid foreclosure. The nonprofit’s executive director says the cost of insurance is pushing families to a breaking point.

“Many of them are at risk of becoming homeless and then they will become dependent on other city services,” said Marguerite Oestreicher of Habitat for Humanity.

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