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You Can’t Sell A House That Is Underwater. South Florida’s Coastal Homeowners Facing Climate Change Disaster Threat.

Wed May 3, 2017 by on Real Estate Law & Roy Oppenheim

Coastal homes meeting ocean

With all the discussion regarding the real estate market’s volatility, one scenario has been largely overlooked especially with the implications it would have on South Florida. A recent article by Bloomberg shed more light on the detrimental effect rising sea levels would have on South Florida coastal homeowners. Having represented thousands of underwater homeowners, we take the threat of being underwater (both literally and physically) very seriously.

Higher Sea Levels = Lower Home Prices

An alarming statement by chief economist of Freddie Mac, Sean Becketti, warned that a housing crisis driven by climate change would cause irreversible price declines while simultaneously negatively affecting banks, insurers and other industries. With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting sea levels could rise as much as three feet in Miami by 2060, it’s understandably causing some negative sentiment among South Florida’s coastal homeowners, but not all. Despite this very real threat, it’s amazing to me that the majority of Floridians still do not consider the impact of climate change to be a legitimate concern at this moment. This is evidenced by the median home prices in and around Miami far exceeding the growth of statewide and national averages. And unlike the requirements of mandatory disclosures of asbestos and lead paint, there is no legal requirement that a Realtor must warn potential buyers of flood risks.

South Florida Counties Taking Charge

With this horrendous scenario affecting where we call “home”, South Florida counties are not taking the threat lightly. Thankfully! As the Sun-Sentinel reported: Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties came together in 2009 to study weather changes and their impact. Since then, numerous policies have been implemented. From raising elevation requirements in Fort Lauderdale, to Palm Beach County adopting hybrid vehicles and adjusting traffic signal timing to better reduce emissions, it is all part of working for a common goal. In addition, all four counties are planning for higher sea levels by adopting new forecast maps that set the foundation for new construction being better equipped to handle stormwater and drainage.

Thus, South Florida properties may be underwater again for the second time in one generation. However, this one may be, unfortunately, more permanent and not just man-made.

From the trenches,

Roy Oppenheim

3 responses to “You Can’t Sell A House That Is Underwater. South Florida’s Coastal Homeowners Facing Climate Change Disaster Threat.”

  1. Jon Hart says:

    That’s so scary. Glad everyone is taking action Now instead of Later.

  2. krishi says:

    Hey there…
    Thanks for this information. .. Really helpfull !

  3. Laura says:

    To scary … Thanks for this case study…

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