For most homeowners, the single largest investment they will make in their lives, and the biggest asset they will own, is their family home. Homes in coastal areas, however, are facing a growing threat from rising seas and other issues, often caused by a changing climate.
Rising seas and chronic flooding impose a serious, long-term threat that can lower property and resale values, leaving homeowners to relocate to safer areas, discount their house, pay recurrent bills for property damage, or eventually find they have an unsaleable property and a mortgage that is, quite literally, underwater.
Research from Zillow shows that more than $900 billion worth of homes in the United States will be impacted by increased flooding and storm damage, mostly in coastal communities. By 2045, $135 billion in property will be under threat, and almost 300,000 people will be forced to adapt to regular, disruptive flooding, or they’ll need to move.
Homeowners in some high-risk areas are no longer eligible for flood insurance, and will have to rely on federal disaster funds. In addition, decreasing tax revenue in some of the most vulnerable towns and cities will mean that essential services – such as police, fire, rescue – will be cut when they’re badly needed.
“In the long run some places will have to be abandoned, but in the short term it’s not clear,” said Dr. Ben Strauss, chief scientist at Climate Central, a non-profit research center that studies the impact of climate change. “It will all depend on how we plan.”
For now, these areas of the United States are most under threat.