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Climate change has buyers hesitating over coastal real estate

Intense storms and flood risk are prompting buyers to steer clear of beachfront properties

What was once a real estate draw is quickly becoming a liability. As the New York Times details in a new report, close proximity to surf and sand is increasingly seen as a risky invitation to destructive storm surges and rising waterlines.

Earlier this year, Sean Becketti, the chief economist for mortgage-seller Freddie Mac, warned that rising sea levels will one day lead to a major, inescapable housing crisis. Becketti cited research suggesting that between $66 billion and $160 billion worth of property will be below sea level by 2050.

Since 2010, the rate of home sales in flood-risk areas such as South Florida and the Carolina Coast has grown just a quarter as fast as home sales on higher ground, according to Attom Data Solutions.

While prospective homebuyers are starting to wise up to the hazards of coastal abodes, several states are attempting to regulate flood-risk disclosure. Both Massachusetts and New Jersey are instituting new rules requiring real estate agents to tell potential buyers about past flooding.

The plight of Norfolk, Virginia—which has some of the highest rates of flooding in the country—inspired a state law in 2015 requiring sellers to disclose past flooding to potential buyers, though they needn’t reveal whether the property is within a FEMA-designated flood risk zone.

Some 40 percent of Americans live and work in coastal areas. Short of a boom in floating, amphibious buildings, resettling outside of flood-prone areas is a likely future for many residents.

Via: New York Times