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Impact of Sea-Level Rise (SLR) on Coastal Homes

By Dez Duran-Lamanilao

Sea-level rise (SLR) implications for coastal regions continuously pose as a threat to the real estate industry. These may refer to disruption in the daily life of not just the people living along the coast but also of the whole coastal and marine ecosystems, animal extinction, shore erosion, wetland flooding, and from a financial perspective, possible huge losses. Developers stand to lose profits and property owners who are leasing their homes face the risk of having to pay for costly repairs and higher mortgage fees.

Image source: NOAA

 Causes of sea-level rise

An article from the journal Science reveals the two main causes of sea-level rise: increase in ocean thermal expansion and melting of glaciers and small ice caps in the recent decades, most notably during the 1990s. Increased heat brought about by climate change has caused ice loss from Greenland and West Antarctica.

Extent of sea-level rise

According to NOAA’s Arctic Report Card, the Arctic is experiencing a rise in temperature at two times the rate of the world and in 2017, scientists have observed a new record low for the maximum sea ice extent. The figure has so far been the largest magnitude decline in sea ice in 1,500 years.

You can use the NOOA Office for Coastal Management’s web mapping tool if you want to visualize the effects at community-level from coastal flooding or SLR, which may reach up to six feet above average high tides.

Impact on US Coastal Homes

A recent study reveals that more than 300,000 coastal homes face the risk of flooding every two weeks within the next 30 years. The Union of Concerned Scientists warns that if left unresolved, these properties will become inhabitable by 2045.

And for the real estate industry, this would mean possible collapse of the mortgage value when investors begin to be wary of properties in these areas. Freddie Mac’s chief economist explained the possibility of properties becoming uninsurable and unmarketable and insurers eventually incurring losses if property owners decide to default on their mortgages, especially if their homes are already underwater. Thus, the importance of having a comprehensive insurance plan that will both protect your needs and those of your insurer as well should any of these possibilities happen.