Three Feet High and Rising - How Climate Change Impacts Bay Area Real Estate

Posted by David Higgins on Friday, February 16th, 2018 at 12:31pm.

Location, Location, Location Takes on a Whole New Meaning in the Era of Climate Change

It’s hard to forget images of the devastation in the Caribbean Islands, flooded communities along the Eastern Seaboard, or the massive wildfires and mudslides in California. Deniers be damned, the climate is changing, and fast.

For those of us living in the coastal East Bay, the impact to climate change is tangible every fire season – yet how many of us are fully cognizant of how and, more importantly, where – climate change and rising seas, will impact our community, especially when investing in Real Estate?

 “Real estate investment may no longer be about the next ‘hot’ neighborhood, it may also be about the next dry neighborhood.”

-- Erika Bolstad, Scientific American.

The allure of a Bay Area coastal (or near coastal) home should be tempered with a dose of reality. Sea levels in the Bay Area are projected to rise three to four feet, at best, 10’ at worst – by the end of the 21st century. If you have young children like I do, you can foresee drastic changes to the landscape within their lifetime.

San Francisco-based Climate Corporation collates and analyzes National Weather Service data for agricultural clients, says it would take only “a few concurrent climatic events” for a collapse in property values “that would make the housing crisis of 2008 look small.” Fortunately for us on the West Coast, sea levels are rising at a slower pace than Eastern part of the country, giving us nominally more time to prepare, but how do real estate investor address the long-term implications of climate change. What can you do?

Understand the Risks

First, to mitigate your exposure, you need to understand the risks. When considering where you’ll be putting down roots or investing in real estate, one should look at the plethora of data available for a long-view of the landscape. Here are some helpful links:

The 10,000’ View (from Higher Ground)

Another consideration is the impact of climate change on businesses, infrastructure, hospitals and essential services. Large public institutions – like Oakland International Airport and Port of Oakland – have plans to protect their interest, however, contingencies for the general populace lags far behind. And, while various government and local agencies are actively creating strategies for how the region will adapt to rising seas, does your community have a resiliency plan? Now’s a good time to find out.

Not all of us can move to higher ground.




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