Despite rising sea levels, more frequent and tenacious storms, and failing sea walls, demand for waterfront homes is stronger than ever, according to a recent article by Julie Lasky in the New York Times.

Read what agents-in-the-know have to say about such demand:

  • Jeffrey Bures with Premier Sotheby’s International ‘Realty on Florida’s Captiva Island – “The stock market’s doing well; there is more discretionary income for people who want to realize their dream of a tropical getaway.”
  • Mark Fisher, manager of Coldwell Baker’s Schmidt Realty in Glen Arbor MI – “We don’t see people being paranoid about buying.”
  • Doug Coley of Rescue Dog Realty in South “Connecticut – “Waterfront is always desirable and there are always risks associated with it, whether you believe in climate change or not. People always want to be near the beach.”

Research, however, indicates there are reasons to be a bit “paranoid” about climate change effects on waterfront property:

  • The First Street Foundation and Columbia University analyzed of tidal flooding effects caused by sea-level rise and found erosion to be the cause of $15.9B in damages in 18 states from Maine to Texas.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists found that +300,000 of today’s coastal homes with the collective market value of approximately $117.5B are at risk of “chronic inundation” in 2045 with Florida being the biggest loser (1M homes under water by 2100), New Jersey the second biggest loser and New York being the third.
  • A collaborative report from 13 federal agencies from Fall 2018 stated that “America’s trillion dollar coastal property and public infrastructure are threatened due to increased severity of hurricanes, storm surges, heavy rains, (etc.) and that “many individuals and communities will suffer financial impacts…lead to higher costs and lower property values.”

We could go on an on here about the research but Lasky’s article pointed out that in Connecticut, the number of waterfront properties has increased more than three times the rate of homes built elsewhere in the state. In Mississippi, coastal homes in high-risk areas are being built at more than twice the rate of homes in the rest of the state and that in Galveston TX, more homes are being built in high-risk zones than ever.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, the greatest risk of flooding is in the upper/middle/lower Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, the Missouri River, the lower Ohio River, the lower Cumberland River and the Tennessee River basin.

According to the Americas with Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies, the Cost per Resident of building sea walls just to protect against “typical” annual storms looks like this:


  1. Galveston TX              $21,282
  2. Barnstable Town FL     $20.062
  3. New Smyrna Beach FL $14,946
  4. Texas City TX              $12,602
  5. Gloucester MA             $12,164
  6. Dunedin FL                 $10,922
  7. Port Arthur TX            $10,289
  8. Hilton Head Is SC       $9,632
  9. Atlantic City NJ           $9,327
  10. Coral Gables FL          $8,442