Sea Levels Have Florida Housing Market 'in Distress'

Prices and number of sales are dropping in exposed coastal areas
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2020 1:30 PM CDT
Sea Levels May Be Taking Toll on Florida Home Prices
A man stands on his deck as flood water surrounds his home in East Milton, Fla., on Sept. 17, during Hurricane Sally.   (Annie Blanks/Pensacola News Journal via AP)

A 2018 study warned that 64,000 Florida homes were at risk to chronic flooding by 2045 because of rising sea levels. The figure rises to 1 million homes by 2100. Now, new research suggests this effect already is showing up in the state's real estate market, reports NPR. The volume of home sales in areas most at risk in Florida have dropped along with prices, according to Benjamin Keys and Philip Mulder at Penn's Wharton School. They say the downturn started in 2013, per the New York Times. From that year to 2018, the volume of homes sold in Florida's "more exposed" coastal areas fell 16% to 20% relative to "less exposed" areas, according to the researchers' working paper.

It took longer for prices to start falling as well, but the researchers say that began in 2018. Since that year, prices of homes in "more exposed" areas have dropped compared to those in "less exposed" tracts, for a difference of 5% to 10% in 2020. This suggests "fewer buyers are willing to bear [flooding risks] at current market prices," the authors write, noting Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and a pair of 2014 climate change reports may have played a role. The bottom line is that "coastal housing is in more distress than we thought," Keys tells the Times. Jeff Dorian at the Miami Herald weighs in: "South Florida can't afford any more delays," he writes. "To mitigate sea-level rise, the global emissions curve must be reversed." (More sea level rise stories.)

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