Studies published earlier in the year by Harvard University and by the University of Colorado suggested that homes in lower elevations were selling for less and gaining value more slowly than similar ones at higher elevations. Researchers took that to be a sign that potential buyers were factoring climate-change-related risks to coastal property — a trend that, along with increasing costs of ownership and insurance, could reduce home values in coastal states such as Florida. At the time, real estate professionals in the area disputed such conclusions, saying they saw no indication that clients were more concerned now about flooding or other environmental risks than before.
A series of more recent studies by research group First Street Foundation is siding with the researchers, concluding that flooding from high-tide events have reduced the value of homes in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area by $6.7 billion between 2005 and 2017. Related analysis by the same group finds that over 11,000 properties that were impacted by Hurricane Florence in August 2018 would not have been affected in 1970, when sea level rise was not as pronounced as it is now.
“[Rising sea levels] is not just a Florida issue but an issue the entire coastal United States needs to address,” says Stephen A. McAlpine, head of data science at First Street Foundation.
If buying trends are drifting away from historically desirable properties, buyers and developers may need to rethink where and how they invest.