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Buying Waterfront Property? Your Due Diligence In A Nutshell

buying waterfront property? your due diligence in a nutshell

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Published date:

February 20, 2017

Last updated date:

February 20, 2017

By Manny Manriquez

by Jeanne Roberts You have reached the magic age of 67. Maybe you are thinking of using your IRA or other retirement fund to buy waterfront property along one of the three seacoasts in the United States: Atlantic, Pacific, or the Gulf of Mexico (the Gulf is really just a semi-landlocked part of the Atlantic Ocean). Get in while the getting’s good, advises a 2017 report from the REALTORS® Land Institute and the National Association of REALTORS® Research Department. But choose well. For example, Texas is always a good option, as are Florida and Louisiana. If you prefer the East Coast, you could choose beautiful North Carolina, with its four separate ecospheres – Outer Banks, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont Plateau, and Appalachian Mountains. Or you might like New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland (yum), or Maine (ayuh!). The Pacific Coast offers almost every type of climate and terrain one could want, from the cool, foggy, intensely green slopes of Alaska and Washington State, through Oregon, and down to Southern California, with its dry, rocky terrain and subtropical climate. Just don’t forget to buy flood insurance. Barring that, choose something farther inland, because polar ice is shrinking, and even the most optimistic researchers agree that sea level rise can’t be far behind. The most recent reports from researchers suggest that the world’s oceans are covered by the least amount of floating sea ice since monitoring began (in the 1970s). This also means that said ice is at the lowest level it has been for thousands of years. In the Northern Hemisphere, near the Arctic, sea ice has reached another record low. This will be the third consecutive year, and no surprise based on October and November (2016) Arctic temperatures that were an unimaginable 36°F warmer than normal. Reports from Antarctica tell of a crack in the ice that has grown from its 18-mile length in 2015 to more than 100 miles long today. In the last two months alone, it grew by 17 miles, and scientists infer from the remaining 20 miles holding the berg to the mainland that the “calving”, when it occurs, will free a chunk of ice the size of Delaware. No big deal, note scientists, because berg ice floats. More important though, is the fact that this calving leaves the glacier behind the iceberg free to flow into the ocean, and that could cause catastrophic sea level rise. Because glaciers, which cover the continental land mass, are made up of very dense, compressed ice with few air bubbles and a quantity of rock and soil called glacial till. This is heavy stuff, in more ways than one. The New York Times recently published an article on coastal real estate, noting that buyers have finally begun to focus on important climate change issues like: how far is the property from the water’s edge; how many feet above sea level is it; is it buffered against storm surges; and does it have emergency power supplies and attached sump pumps. But economists argue this climate change due diligence needs to be speeded up, because the oceans are rising and one really bad storm surge could collapse the entire waterfront property market – a burst bubble that would potentially exceed the dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008 respectively. In fact, an entire swath of coastal properties, from Texas to New Jersey, is at risk of being swallowed up – if not by rising seas, then at least by the dawning realization that Mother Nature is upset. Moreover, She doesn’t play favorites, and – as one pundit noted – “The water always wins.” If you must buy waterfront property, find out from your lender or your real estate agent if the property in question has ever filed a claim based on storm surges like Hurricane Katrina, or coastal inundations (like Florida’s King Tides). Then purchase your flood insurance accordingly. If you still insist on buying, consider defending yourself. If you live in a storm surge or coastal inundation evacuation zone, prepare a flood emergency action plan, your own, individualized evacuation plan, and put together a disaster supply kit. You can live with the epithet, “prepper”. You might have more trouble with the designation “homeless”.

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