It sounds absurd, but the East Coast of the United States is slowly sinking into the Atlantic Ocean. Tens of thousands of years ago, during the Ice Age, the massive glaciers moving across the middle of the country also pushed down on the continental crust with their weight. Imagine sitting in the middle of a hammock; your weight pushes the middle down, as well as causing the edges to go up. This is essentially what glaciers did, pushing down while the coasts moved up.
Ever since the end of the Ice Age, the coasts have been “sinking” back to their previous position. It is more noticeable now as more and more Americans choose to live in coastal communities.
Combine this with rising sea levels, and Florida could be in for trouble. Sea levels are projected to rise six feet over the next century. Miami sits at 6.5 feet above sea level.
What does this mean for you? Should you pack up and pack in your dreams of an ocean view? Maybe not, but you should definitely take the following factors into consideration when buying a home in Southern Florida.
Be Realistic About Future Values
Rising sea levels mean that hurricanes will continue to cause more significant damage. Americans on the East and Gulf Coasts are responding to this trend by trending away from the coast. A study from Attom Data Analysis shows that home sales in flood-prone areas have grown 25% slower than those elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t interest. Many people have dreams of owning property on the coast, and that will continue.
But odds are that these numbers will decrease as hurricane trends continue, and as interest rates rise. Less demand for coastal property means you won’t be able to sell for quite the same value that you can today. So if you love the coastal lifestyle for yourself, go for it! But investment properties aren’t necessarily a safe bet.
Be Prepared to Make Improvements
Is Miami destined to become a post-apocalyptic swamp in the decades to come? No. South Florida municipalities are already taking steps to raise roads, build pumps, and protect public buildings. Many commercial projects are building with the future in mind, using large amounts of concrete to waterproof basements and underground parking areas. New homes are also being built with increased awareness for forthcoming changes.
Many new homeowners, however, will be looking to buy an older home, which may not have these modern additions. When planning your budget, consider the costs of adding these renovations, rather than simply dedicating your entire budget to buying the home.
Keep Your Lifestyle in Mind
Boating is a huge hobby in Florida, which has more boaters than every state outside of California and Michigan. Fort Lauderdale’s extensive network of canals cater to residents who want to walk out to the backyard and motor out to sea.
Rising sea levels mean these canals will be rising as well. The problem is that bridges crossing inland canals and marinas are not rising. Be sure to keep this in mind when buying property: My boat fits under the bridge now, but will it fit in 25 years?
Again, these changes do not foretell the death of either South Florida or the dream of owning coastal property. Just keep the future in mind when you buy, and plan accordingly!