Coastal Flooding Is Erasing Billions in Property Value as Sea Level Rises. That's Bad News for Cities.
High-tide flooding is eating away at the coastal property tax base just when communities need it most to adapt to climate change and repair the damage.
High-tide flooding is a growing problem in many coastal communities as the planet warms and sea level rises. New research shows the impact it's already having on home values. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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."
The analysis, published Wednesday by First Street Foundation, estimates that property value losses from coastal flooding in 17 states were nearly $16 billion from 2005 to 2017. Florida, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina each saw more than $1 billion in losses.