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New Report On Rising Sea Levels – What It Means for Real Estate Owners in Santa Cruz County

Zillow and Climate Central have teamed up to study the impacts of climate change on real estate. Zillow is an online real estate database with information about transactions across the country. Climate Central is a nonprofit news organization that analyzes and reports on climate science. In 2018, the duo released the first nationwide analysis of the number of new homes in areas vulnerable to coastal flooding in all 24 coastal states and the District of Columbia. Along with this analysis, the duo has released a number of tools that the public can use to analyze the predicted future flood risks throughout the country.


One tool found here breaks down the number of homes that are predicted to be in high risk flood zones by city, county and state. We used this look to look at the number and overall value of homes that will be in flood risk zones if pollution continues, unchecked. More than 62 thousand San Francisco Bay Area homes, worth over $77 billion are at risk for chronic coastal flooding by 2100. In total, this is almost 35 percent of all housing in the SF Bay Area, with San Mateo and Marin County being particularly vulnerable – nearly 16 percent and 11 percent of homes will be at risk in these counties respectively. Under this scenario, by 2100 75 homes in Santa Cruz County will be in flood-risk zones, worth nearly $120 million.


If emissions are cut moderately – roughly inline with the Paris agreement on climate change – this number drops to a little over 42 thousand, or about 25 percent of homes. Finally, with deep carbon cuts, the number of homes in a flood risk zone drops to just over 32 thousand, or about 20 percent of homes.


While 2100 may seem far away, 2050 is nearly within the timeframe of a 30 year mortgage. The report suggests that, regardless of emission cuts, 13 to over 14 percent of SF Bay Area Homes will be in flood-risk zones. This accounts for $30 to over $33 billion worth of real estate. These floods will likely be due to a combination of sea level rise and the type of flooding that currently happens once a year, on average. Keep in mind, just one flood can cause thousands of dollars of damage to a home and due to stricter Coastal Commission regulations around developing property along the coast, it may be difficult to rebuild.


If you’d like to learn more, you can explore this interactive map, provided by Zillow and Climate Central. Climate Central also provides a comprehensive report of flood risks in Santa Cruz County due to sea level rise, which can be found here.


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