Housing Market Value Impairment from Future Sea-level Rise Inundation

July 15, 2020
By David Rodziewicz, Senior Commodity Specialist , Christopher J. Amante, Jacob Dice and Eugene Wahl

Research Working PaperSea level rise will pose increased risks to U.S. coastal real estate markets in the coming decades, though the direct economic costs depend on the severity and uncertainty within climate-change scenarios.

The rate of future global sea-level rise will likely increase due to elevated ocean temperatures and increases in land-ice melt. Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal communities, and coastal properties are expected to become more prone to coastal flooding in the coming decades due to relative sea-level rise caused by both global and local factors. Understanding how this projected sea-level rise translates to lost economic value is critical to the decisions of insurance companies, banks, governments, investors, and regulatory agencies. We use probability distributions of local sea-level rise projections, National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) coastal digital elevation models, and CoreLogic housing data to estimate a range of housing market value impairments from future sea-level rise in 15 major U.S. coastal cities as well as the associated timing of those impairments. Our estimates include only residential properties with four or fewer units and thus provide a lower bound estimate of economic risk from sea-level rise. We estimate that within these 15 major U.S. coastal metros, sea-level rise will inundate between 2,000 and 28,000 properties by 2100 in a relatively low greenhouse gas concentration scenario and between 7,000 to 77,000 properties under an unlikely, extreme greenhouse gas concentration scenario. These estimates equate to direct economic losses between $0.1 to $1.8 billion under the low greenhouse gas scenario and $3.8 to $50.6 billion under the high scenario.

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RWP 20-05, July 2020

JEL Classification: Q54, R3, D89

Article Citation

  • Rodziewicz, David, Christopher J. Amante, Jacob Dice, and Eugene Wahl . 2020. “Housing Market Value Impairment from Future Sea-level Rise Inundation.” Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Research Working Paper no. 20-05, July. Available at https://doi.org/10.18651/RWP2020-05

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