SOURCE: Inside Climate News

DATE: February 28, 2019

SNIP: Rising seas have already eroded coastal property values from Maine to Mississippi by billions of dollars over the past decade as buyers pay less for homes in neighborhoods where high-tide flooding is creeping in, a new report shows.

The loss in property values points to a compound problem for coastal communities: Just as accelerating sea level rise forces governments to build flood walls and repair infrastructure more often, it may also eat away at the property tax base that provides many cities’ primary revenue stream for funding that very work.

“This is a real negative feedback loop,” said Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If they don’t start to recognize these issues and reports like this and open their eyes to what is definitely happening, they’re going to find themselves in pretty dire straits.”

Climate change is accelerating sea level rise and has driven a rapid increase in the frequency of coastal flooding on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in recent decades. Residents and local businesses are already feeling the costs.

As the problem has worsened, advocacy groups and some financial institutions have begun warning about the potential for cascading economic impacts from rising seas.

In 2016, Freddie Mac, the federally-backed mortgage company, warned that sea level rise would eventually destroy billions of dollars worth of property. Homes represent many Americans’ largest asset, it noted, and the inevitable decline in coastal property value could ripple throughout local economies. Homeowners might decide to stop paying off their mortgages if their home values drop below the balance they owe the bank.

While these economic losses might happen gradually, the Freddie Mac report said, “they are likely to be greater in total than those experienced in the housing crisis and Great Recession.”