A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists investigated the impact of real estate values in 23 coastal states. According to the study, Florida lost the most people.
STEVE INSKEEP, moderator:
This is a good time to live in the commanding heights. Not a good time to live by the water. A study today shows that more than 300,000 households in the United States may see long-term floods in the next 30 years due to rising sea levels and climate change. This may lead to a crisis in the housing market in some areas. NPR’s Greg Allen reports.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Due to seasonal climaxes and storms, many communities across the country have seen flooding. In Bonita Springs, Florida’s Gulf Coast, homeowner Laurie Malone (ph) was shocked by the amount of water that Hurricane Irma entered her home last year.
LAURIE MALONE: I am looking forward to some, but not here. You can see the water line here.
Allen: I think it’s about 2 feet tall.
MALONE: The whole staircase is like this thick green mold.
Allen: A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that nearly 300 families near Malone may have experienced flooding due to climate change. Bonita Springs is not alone. Across the country, nearly $140 billion worth of residential and commercial properties are at risk of rising sea levels. Rachel Cleetus works with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
RACHEL CLEETUS: They are beginning to see a deteriorating, long-term inundation that is exacerbated by rising sea levels and is very destructive to everyday life and the economy. We have found through research that it poses a real threat to coastal real estate.
ALLEN: Real estate in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The Alliance of Concerned Scientists, in collaboration with online real estate company Zillow, studied sea level rise predictions for hundreds of communities from Washington State to Maine. Not surprisingly, Florida is the most dangerous state, and by 2045, about 64,000 households may see long-term floods. But New Jersey is not behind. Other riskier areas include Long Island, New York, where $8 billion worth of coastal real estate may be flooded. In addition, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Louisiana Coastal Area, the Maryland East Coast, and the beach community from Texas to Massachusetts. Cleetus said that with long-term floods, the value of real estate in coastal areas may collapse. Moreover, she said that they may not come back.
Kletters: Unlike the previous market crash, the value of the home will eventually rebound. In this case, unfortunately, the mortgage will only develop further under the water.
Allen: That is symbolic and literal. In another study published earlier this year, Jesse Keenan of Harvard Graduate School of Design found that more and more floods have begun to affect the price of homes in certain parts of Miami. He said the new report should remind people that climate change is not just a problem for future generations.
JESSE KEENAN: We talked about the 30-year time horizon in this study, which is the time most people get mortgages. So if you are going to buy a house today, and today you will get a mortgage and you expect to pay this amount within 30 years, then this is the risk.
Allen: The authors of the study called on policymakers to take immediate action to address climate change. They say strong carbon reduction measures can prevent worst-case forecasts and limit the impact of rising sea levels on fragile coastal areas. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. [Editor’s note on June 19th: Although Zillow provided the data used in the studies mentioned in this report, the analysis was done independently by the Union of Concerned Scientists.