Sea level rise is eroding home value, and owners might not even know it

Elizabeth Boineau's 1939 Colonial sits a block and a half from the Ashley River in South Carolina in a sought-after neighborhood of ancient live oaks, charming gardens and historic homes. A year ago, she thought she could sell it for nearly $1.5 million. But after dropping the price 11 times, Boineau has decided to tear it down.

In March, the city's Board of Architectural Review approved the demolition - a decision not taken lightly in Charleston's historic district.

"Each time that I was just finishing up paying off the bills, another flood would hit," Boineau said.

Boineau is one of many homeowners on the front lines of society's confrontation with climate change, living in houses where rising sea levels have worsened flooding not just in extreme events like hurricanes, but also heavy rains and even high tides.

Now, three studies have found evidence that the threat of higher seas is also undermining coastal property values, as home buyers - particularly investors - begin the retreat to higher ground.

By comparing properties that are virtually the same but for their exposure to the seas, researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Pennsylvania State University found that vulnerable homes sold for 6.6 per cent less than unexposed homes.

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