Climate change puts $450B worth of homes at risk by 2050

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Climate change's rising sea levels translates to rising homebuilder and owner risk for coastal states.

In the next 30 years, an estimated 802,555 homes worth approximately $450 billion reside under the risk of flooding, according to a joint study by Zillow and Climate Central. Pollution levels from greenhouse gas build-up will cause chronic ocean flooding by 2050 and subsequent mortgage distress.

"This research suggests that the impact of climate change on the lives and pocketbooks of homeowners is closer than you think. For homebuyers over the next few years, the impact of climate change will be felt within the span of their 30-year mortgage," Skylar Olsen, Zillow's director of economic research and outreach, said in a press release. "Without intervention, hundreds of thousands of coastal homes will experience regular flooding and the damage will cost billions."

Of the total housing under flood risk, 19,250 of homes were constructed in 2010 or later, designating them as new. New Jersey led all states with total new homes built in both annual risk zones — 3,087 — and 10-year risk zones — 4,524 homes. Much of that's probably due to rebuilding done following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Florida and North Carolina finished second and third with their totals of 3,714 and 3,141, respectively, in combined new homes in annual and 10-year risk zones.

"Given that a home is most people's largest and longest-living asset, it takes only one major flood to wipe out a chunk of that long-growing equity. Rebuilding is expensive, so it's doubly tragic that we continue to build brand-new units in areas likely to flood," said Olsen.

The outlook becomes even bleaker by the century's end. The totals more than quadruple, skyrocketing to 3.4 million homes worth $1.75 trillion by 2100. Florida would lead all states in this scenario with 1.58 million homes at risk, followed by New Jersey's 282,354 and Virginia's 167,090.

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Climate change Housing market Natural disasters Flood insurance Zillow