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March 9, 2017 | About All That Prize Coastal Real Estate

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel ( Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog:

Believe it or not, ice at the earth’s poles is melting faster than scientists had estimated, and glaciers and ice shelves that hold back inland ice sheets are shrinking, allowing more water to enter the oceans.  Scientists now estimate we may be headed towards a 4 to 6′ rise in sea levels this century alone, if  we do nothing to dramatically reverse the melting.

Sean Becketti, the chief economist for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, warned last year that rising sea levels are advancing on coastal properties faster than expected. “Some residents will cash out early and suffer minimal losses. Others will not be so lucky,” Becketti said.

By present estimates, the US alone is facing a $trillion loss in coastal property values.  And while private insurers have gradually exited the space, US taxpayers have taken on the risk, underwriting more than $1.25 trillion in National Flood Insurance coverage (2014 number) at below-market rates, on top of backstopping the banks and mortgages lent on most of these properties.

“South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard has warned that “coastal mortgages are growing into as big a bubble as the housing market of 2007.” He points out that when this bubble crashes it will never recover, but prices will continue to drop as sea levels and storm surges get higher and higher.”

A 6′ increase in sea levels would submerge the areas of southern Florida marked in dark blue on this map.

Of course, President Trump says he doesn’t believe any of this, and has appointed climate deniers to his cabinet and proposed budgets that gut funding for climate science, including the ability to monitor ice melt and forecast extreme coastal weather such as hurricanes.

Perhaps Trump thinks his beloved Marilaga Resort near Palm Beach (marked in red below), is just barely high enough to escape drowning?  Or denial is the whole strategy?  Maybe the popular, “I’ll be gone, you”ll be gone” thinking?

For other property owners who don’t like the odds here, advance planning seems prudent.  See:  The US is about to lose $1 trillion in coastal property values. Trump isn’t helping:

“So here’s the question for coastal property owners and financial institutions who are witnessing team Trump keep his coastal-destroying promises on a daily basis: Who will be the smart money that gets out early — and who will be the other kind of money?”

Whether we own coastal property or not, the longer we do nothing smart here, the worse this gets for taxpayers and social stability and the more people will crowd inland as continents shrink.

A wiser way to avoid a crush of refugees in crisis migration, and all the cost and stress that entails, is to alleviate and reverse climate harm now, so that everyone can stay in their own corner of the globe.  If not, clearly we’re all going to pay an ever compounding price.

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March 9th, 2017

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite

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