Now You Can Binge Watch the FREE Sea Level Rise Real Estate Introductory Video Series!

Sea level rise flooding is a growing problem for coastal communities along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information out there — and certainly not in one place — to help buyers, sellers, owners, and real estate agents to make informed decisions about how to respond to the challenge.

I created SeaLevelRiseRealEstate.com and wrote “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” to give people an understanding of climate change and sea level rise, along with the questions they need to ask and the valuable resources that can provide useful answers, so they’ll make the right decisions based on the threats posed by sea level rise flooding and their ability to address them. To further reinforce the points made on the website and in the book, I produced five introductory videos that I’m posting on this site all at once.

The videos consist of an introductory video followed by videos that each address the central issues that should be of concern to buyers, sellers, owners, and real estate agents. The videos aren’t as comprehensive as the information found in “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” but they give a great overview of the general issues of concern.

You can view the videos by clicking this link.

Report Predicts 15%-35% Drop in Florida Home Values Due to Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

A report released by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, predicts that Florida homes exposed to sea level rise flooding and storm surge from stronger hurricanes — fueled by a warmer atmosphere and ocean water — could lose 15-to-35% of their value by 2050. That translates into $30 billion to $80 billion worth of devaluation.

The company, which studied past trends to arrive at the estimate, says if not effectively addressed, flooding could result in lenders no longer offering 30-year mortgages in affected areas. Furthermore real estate owners could get hit with higher insurance premiums and possibly lose access to insurance altogether if providers leave the market.

If the coastal real estate market faces a downturn due to sea level rise flooding, the report says there’s also a concern that property tax revenues will be reduced, leaving communities with less funding to address the problem.

The report’s authors warn that their estimates may be on the conservative side. Losses could be much higher if water, sewage and transportation systems are flooded or buyers become much more sensitive to climate risk when purchasing properties.

The researchers say Florida is going to have to make hard choices to address sea level rise flooding. The state will have to decide whether to protect the coasts with seawalls and other methods or abandon risk-prone areas.

To protect their financial futures, real estate owners everywhere need to pay close attention to how federal, state and local governments plan to protect their communities from the threat of sea level rise flooding.

BlackRock’s Stand on Climate Change And Sea Level Rise Is A Coastal Real Estate Game Changer

BlackRock founder Larry Fink released his annual letter to chief executives this week, and his aggressive stand on climate change and sea level rise rocked the financial world.

BlackRock, the world’s largest and most powerful investor with over $6.84 trillion of assets under management, recently came under criticism that it wasn’t doing enough to fight climate change. Fink’s letter told the executives that climate change has to be considered when a company’s long-term prospects are being evaluated for investment purposes. He said the company is already undertaking initiatives that will promote climate sustainability while selling investments in some thermal coal producers. Burning coal and other fossil fuels is a major contributor to the greenhouse gases that are driving global warming and sea level rise.

Fink went on to say: “We don’t yet know which predictions about the climate will be most accurate, nor what effects we have failed to consider. But there is no denying the direction we are heading. Every government, company and shareholder must confront climate change.

Fink also posed a question regarding sea level rise flooding. “What will happen to the 30-year mortgage – a key building block of finance – if lenders can’t estimate the impact of climate risk over a such a long timeline, and if there is no viable market for flood or fire insurance in impacted areas?” The answer is obvious: The coastal real estate market will crater.

The message to buyers, sellers, owners and real estate agents in coastal areas is now is the time to consider climate change and sea level rise flooding – on many levels – to make informed decisions regarding real estate purchases and investments. The days of climate change denialism are over. It’s time to follow Fink’s lead and do due diligence to protect your own financial future.

“7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” can help you get started.

Bad News For Coastal Real Estate: The Oceans Hit Another Heat Record

Researchers released a report this week that concluded that the ocean temperature hit a new record last year. This is a problem for all of us. The world’s oceans store 90 percent of the heat generated from global warming.

The 2019 record isn’t a one-off either. It’s part of a disturbing trend. The researchers reported that the oceans were the warmest ever over the last 10 years.

Hotter oceans contribute to the warming of the atmosphere and land on a global scale. As a result, we will continue to see more extreme weather, including wildfires, droughts and stronger tropical storms and hurricanes. Sea life is also being harmed.

Hotter oceans are also intensifying and accelerating the two major drivers of sea level rise flooding. Land-based ice sheets will continue to melt faster, sending more runoff into the oceans. And the oceans themselves will continue to expand as they heat up.

Scientists have been calling for anywhere from three-to-six feet of sea level rise by 2100. A foot or two of that total could be on our doorsteps by 2050.

Coastal communities are already struggling to protect lives and real estate with the foot or so of sea level rise that has accumulated since 1900. Many already need hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to defend roads and other critical infrastructure. With funding in short supply, many communities are putting off these critical projects, which puts lives and property at risk.

When you combine the ocean heating analysis, published in the journal Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, with reports that have found accelerating atmospheric temperatures — 2019 was the second hottest on record for the globe — it’s clear that buyers, sellers, owners, and real estate agents need to start taking sea level rise flooding seriously when they’re dealing with coastal real estate.

Orange County, California, Grappling with Sea Level Rise

This weekend, the alignment of the sun and moon are creating higher-than normal-king tides along the U.S. coastline. Activists and organizations in Orange County, California, are hosting events at several locations (listed in this article) to not only show the public what a king tide does to their shoreline but to make them aware that sea level rise is going to make what’s now considered a higher-than-normal tide the norm in the coming decades.

Sea level rise flooding is already threatening beaches, bluffs, railroad tracks, roadways, and real estate in California. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates in a December report that statewide up to $10 billion worth will be inundated by 2050.

The California Coastal Commission is considering a few options to hold back or divert the rising seas, including building seawalls (which can actually cause more rapid beach erosion), enhancing natural buffers, such as dunes and wetlands, and moving or demolishing structures on beaches so the ocean and beaches can follow their natural flow without flooding real estate and infrastructure. All of the solutions under consideration have costs and benefits. In some cases, residents are fighting the changes, claiming that their private property rights overrule the public interest.

The U.S. Geologic Survey predicts that sea level rise could devour up 67 percent of California’s beaches by 2100. The loss threatens to damage the state’s tourist economy and put even more bluff-top homes at risk of toppling into the sea.

Sean Bothwell, executive director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance told the Orange County Register, “Sea level projections have increased at an alarming rate — due to increased ocean temperature and faster rates of Antarctic sea melt — leaving California’s communities, roads and other infrastructure vulnerable to severe flooding and other risks without immediate action.”

Hopefully, public education projects, like the special king tide events being held in Orange County, will convince people that now’s the time to act.

Real Estate Buyers Need to Be Aware of Sea Level Rise’s Impact on Infrastructure

Buyers of real estate in coastal areas don’t just need to know if the property of interest experiences sea level rise flooding. They also need to know how salty floodwaters are impacting critical infrastructure.

Case in point: Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For decades, officials there have raided the city’s sewer and water budget to fund other projects. Without critical maintenance, the system is collapsing. Last month alone, breaks in a pipe caused 126 million gallons of sewage to course down a neighborhood street and into a river.

In 2017, an engineering firm gave the city an 800 page report that said $1.4 billion worth of work that needed to be completed on the leaky wastewater treatment system to stop the sewage spills. Experts said part of the problem is that the system has aged beyond its useful life. Another problem is that sea level rise is immersing metal pipes in salty water which is causing them to corrode and fail.

Fort Lauderdale isn’t alone in confronting this costly challenge. Miami, too, has a failing wastewater treatment system that has led to spills and huge fines. Many other cities all along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coastlines are bound to get hit with similar problems as their infrastructure is invaded by rising seas.

One thing Fort Lauderdale and Miami have in common is the struggle to find money to make the needed repairs. The only options are higher taxes or bond issues. Either way, property owners are bound to get soaked.

The timing of these costs couldn’t be worse. In addition to the need to upgrade their wastewater treatment systems, both cities need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to raise roads and pipes and build barriers and pumps to hold back the ocean.

In the end, buyers need to take future tax hikes into account when they’re considering whether or not to purchase real estate in areas impacted by sea level rise flooding. This issue is discussed in detail in “7 sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions.”

FEMA’S Climate Change Denialism Endangers Coastal Real Estate Owners

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is responsible for responding to natural disasters and administering the Federal Flood Insurance Program, has become a major threat to coastal area real estate owners.

FEMA is notorious for using maps based on out of date data to set the flood zones that are used to determine both the level of risk faced by property owners and their flood insurance premiums. The maps are so bad the Department of Homeland Security said only 4-in-10 maps “adequately identified the level of flood risk” in 2017, according to this Bloomberg report. Despite more and more coastal properties being flooded by sea level rise, the agency doesn’t consider sea level rise or the king tides that make the flooding even more intense in the fall when it designates the flood zones.

FEMA’s climate change and sea level rise denialism was exposed yet again by its failure to include both terms in the agency’s National Preparedness Report released in December. Environmentalists say the agency’s inaction on climate change and sea level rise put the nation at risk.

“We can’t prepare the country — we can’t prepare communities — if we take this deliberately politicized route of excluding any mention of climate change,” Rachel Cleetus, a Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate expert told E&E News.

FEMA’s climate change and sea level rise denialism is in stark contrast to the position being taken by science-driven agencies. For example, NASA has webpages that warn about climate change fueling extreme weather events. And, in 2018, the National Climate Assessment, prepared by 300 experts guided by a 60 member federal advisory committee, concluded that climate change will continue to cause extreme weather that damages infrastructure, ecosystems and social systems.

FEMA’s inability to take climate change and sea level rise flooding seriously is further proof that buyers, sellers, owners, and real estate agents in coastal areas need to perform due diligence to protect their financial interests. They all need to go where the federal government — and many state and local governments won’t — and gather information on where flooding is occurring, what other areas it threatens, and how local governments plan to deal with it. They also need to know how sea level rise flooding will affect their tax rates and flood insurance premiums. “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions” can help them to gather the information they need to make informed decisions.

Does Your State Require Real Estate Sellers to Disclose Sea Level Rise Flooding?

Each state has different requirements regarding a seller’s obligation to disclose sea level rise flooding issues to buyers in a real estate transaction. Not being aware of a state’s seller’s disclosure law can put buyers, sellers and even real estate agents at great risk.

Some states, like Louisiana, are very stringent. Sellers have to tell a buyer if a property floods, the source of the flooding, the type of damage the flooding causes, and whether any flood insurance claims have been filed. The last point is important because there have been cases where buyers have purchased a property and not been aware of a flooding issue. When the property floods and they file a claim, the past claims can be used against them and their insurance rates can skyrocket.

Other states, like Virginia, are pretty much the wild west when it comes to seller’s disclosures. Basically, sellers don’t have to disclose anything, and it’s up to buyers to find out what’s going on.

Florida lies somewhere in the middle. The state requires sellers to disclose defects that they’re aware of that materially affect the value of a property. This could be construed as meaning they’re required to inform buyers if a property experiences flooding. But in all actuality, the language is so non-specific that the state’s insurers are expected to lobby for legislation this year that’s more in line with Louisiana’s detailed level of disclosure.

Strong seller’s disclosure laws protect buyers, sellers, and real estate agents. Buyers, of course, are protected because they’re informed about sea level rise flooding issue BEFORE they make a purchase. Sellers are protected because they will know exactly what’s they’re required to tell the buyer. This can help them to avoid lawsuits for failure to disclose flooding. And real estate agents are protected because they, too, will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be able to provide better advice to their clients.

A note of caution: Even in states that have strong seller’s disclosure laws, buyers should find out from more than one source if a property or neighborhood floods. Buyers should ask the seller to order a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report from their insurer. The report will tell the buyer if any claims have been filed with most insurers in the last 5-7 years. Strolling the neighborhood and asking residents if the property or neighborhood floods can also yield valuable information.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has an excellent online map that features information about each state’s seller’s disclosure law. There’s also more information about this important issue in “7 Sea Level Rise Real Estate Questions.”

Sea Level Rise Forces Florida to Consider Another Foot in Elevation for New Coastal Real Estate Projects

In 2019, a Florida Building Commission subcommittee agreed with the findings of a Florida International University study that recommended that builders elevate new construction in coastal regions another foot to accommodate sea level rise. Craig Fugate, who served as the state’s director of emergency management and FEMA administrator during the Obama presidency, told the Miami Herald that in the face of climate change and hurricanes, “We cannot keep building the way we always have an expect a different outcome in future disasters.”

Every foot a structure is built over the base flood elevation can result in substantial savings in flood insurance premiums. Some developers, however, oppose the move because it can be costly. The next time the Florida Building Commission could change the code to require higher elevation for new building projects is 2023. Read more here.

Santa Barbara, CA, Officials Prepare to Release Sea Level Rise Battle Plan

Sea level rise is a threat along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastlines. Officials in coastal communities are increasingly waking up to the threat of sea level rise-driven flooding and creating plans to combat it to protect real estate and their way of life.

Officials in Santa Barbara, CA, are putting finishing touches on a report due to be released next month that will include recommendations on how the city can mitigate sea level rise flooding damage. According to an article in The Log, a publication for California boating and fishing enthusiasts, the report will call for changes to the harbor breakwater, a program to more closely monitor the shoreline, and raising the city pier and marina facilities.

Without the modifications, experts predict sea level rise will claim the city’s sandy beaches by 2060 and the harbor will become unusable by 2100. Read more here.

%d bloggers like this: