Rising Seas Turn Coastal Houses Into a Gamble
I've been warning about rising sea levels for several years, and just now they're beginning to think about in Florida.
MIAMI — Real estate agents looking to sell coastal properties usually focus on one thing: how close the home is to the water’s edge. But buyers are increasingly asking instead how far back it is from the waterline. How many feet above sea level? Is it fortified against storm surges? Does it have emergency power and sump pumps?
Rising sea levels are changing the way people think about waterfront real estate. Though demand remains strong and developers continue to build near the water in many coastal cities, homeowners across the nation are slowly growing wary of buying property in areas most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
But many economists say that this reckoning needs to happen much faster and that home buyers urgently need to be better informed. Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008.
The fallout would be felt by property owners, developers, real estate lenders and the financial institutions that bundle and resell mortgages.[....]
In April, Sean Becketti, the chief economist for Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage giant, issued a dire prediction. It is only a matter of time, he wrote, before sea level rise and storm surges become so unbearable along the coast that people will leave, ditching their mortgages and potentially triggering another housing meltdown — except this time, it would be unlikely that these housing prices would ever recover.
Much of the uncertainty surrounding climate change focuses on the pace of the rise in sea levels. But some argue that this misses the point because property values will probably go under water long before the properties themselves do.
What is often called “nuisance” flooding — inundation caused more by tides than weather — is already affecting property values. Often just a foot or two deep, this type of flooding can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars and contaminate groundwater.I can't believe that any bank would agree to a 30 year mortgage on any ocean front property anywhere.