Sea level rise already has cost billions in NJ home values, study finds
Flooding caused by sea level rise resulted in home value loss totaling more than $4 billion from 2005 to 2017 in New Jersey, according to a risk analysis from the nonprofit First Street Foundation.
And no municipality, across eight coastal states, took a bigger financial hit than Ocean City in Cape May County.
Most homes near the water appreciated in value over that time, but not as much as they would have if rising sea levels hadn't been an issue, researchers said.
Of the states examined — by analyzing more than 9 million real estate transactions — New Jersey was found to lose the second-highest amount of home value during the 13-year period ($4.5 billion). Only Florida ($5.42 billion) fared worse.
According to the study, 112,583 homes in New Jersey lost value during the period analyzed, compared to 384,548 in Florida.
"New Jersey property values are just higher than they are in Florida, so homes that are affected are losing more as a percentage," said Jeremy Porter, statistical consultant with First Street, a New York-based foundation that's designed to educate residents and leaders about sea level rise and flooding.
At more than $530 million, Ocean City saw the most property value lost. North Beach Haven, Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Avalon, Brigantine, North Wildwood, and Mystic Island all ranked among the top 20 cities for property value lost.
Sea level is rising at an increasing rate, according to the National Ocean Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2014, the global level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average.
Porter, a professor at Columbia University, said the research took into account housing characteristics, market trends, neighborhood amenities and other factors when determining home value loss.
Previous studies have estimated the impact sea level rise will have on the future value of coastal properties, but this is the first research to demonstrate that value loss has already occurred, according to First Street.
"Across all the states that we analyzed, homes right on the coast, on the beach side of the ocean, didn't have the same amount of flooding as homes on the bay side," Porter said. "So bays are much more apt to be affected by sea level rise and tidal flooding than homes on the ocean side."
More than $14 billion was lost in home value due to sea level rise from 2005 to 2017 in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, according to the analysis.