Dec. 7, 2016 — The ultimate dream for many a baby boomer is to buy a home on the edge of the sea. Brilliant sunrises, grandkids playing in the sand or swimming off the fishing dock, and fiery sunsets are all part of that dream. Unfortunately, the reality of rising seas is threatening that good life. A recent article in the NY Times, “Perils of Climate Change Swamp Coastal Real Estate“, found that real estate prices in flood prone areas of the U.S. are either declining, or not rising as fast as in other parts of the country.
It used to be that potential buyers of coastal property didn’t investigate too carefully, as long as the view was good and the water near. But too many hurricanes and floods have led to cautious buyers. Flood insurance, long subsidized, is getting more realistic and a lot pricier. Potential buyers, lenders, and insurance companies are insisting to know about flood zones, storm surges, pumps, emergency power, and the like. Another concern is that taxes on waterfront property can be enormous compared to inland areas. When buyers they don’t get good answers, they often move on to safer properties.
The Times reported that home sales in areas prone to flooding are down over the past five years, growing “…about 25 percent less quickly than in counties that do not typically flood, according to county-by-county data from Attom Data Solutions, the parent company of RealtyTrac.” Some experts predict that a coming waterfront real estate bust could make the 2008 collapse look like nothing. Sean Becketti, the chief economist for Freddie Mac, warns that “it is only a matter of time” before homeowners abandon their dreams along the water, leaving lenders to pick up the pieces.
The problem is everywhere
Almost every coast is problematic, but the southeast U.S. has some of the worst issues. Almost all of Florida’s coast is low, with high tides flooding more and more areas routinely. The same goes for the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. In the Florida Keys almost every home is at risk, particularly from storm surges and king tides where water actually comes in from the porous rock underneath.
What to do
Obviously, think carefully before you buy anywhere near the coast – oceanfront, bayside, or even miles inland. Consider these issues before you buy:
– Check out flood and wind insurance – and know that rates are only going up
– Review FEMA maps and past flooding records
– Talk with local coastal experts about what is happening
– Review what kind of protection your home might have – emergency power, protective dunes or seawalls, hurricane rated doors and windows
– Consider if your real estate investment would be more solid if you buy on higher ground.
More detailed advice
Climate Change and Where You Retire: Should You Be Worried
And if you must live near the Coast: Affordable Place to Live Along the Waterfront
Comments? Have you dreamed of living along a coast in your retirement? What kind of issues have you encountered if you live their already? Any advice for folks who just have to live along the water.