Climate Change & Waterfront Homes

  • Ross Milroy
  • 11/16/21

Do you currently own a waterfront home in Miami? Or do you plan to invest in one of the beautiful Miami Beach homes for sale in the near future? Both current owners and prospective buyers of Miami Beach luxury real estate may be worried about what climate change means for the safety of their property and their families. While there are certainly some challenges associated with climate change for these individuals, it’s nothing that some education, smart choices, and help from experts in the field can’t overcome. Here is what current future owners need to know about these issues.

What is climate change?

Climate change is the shift in average weather conditions over a certain period of time. In recent decades, we’ve seen a more rapid than usual shift in conditions due, in part, to our use of oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuels. When these are burned, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trap the heat of the sun and increase the average temperatures. As temperatures rise, many areas will experience more droughts and heatwaves, hurricanes are likely to become stronger, and the sea level will rise due to melting polar ice caps. Other consequences include changes in precipitation patterns, effects on crop growing seasons, and an increase in wildfires.

How is climate change affecting waterfront homes in Miami Beach?

Though there is not one area of the world that is not being affected in some way by rapid climate change, Miami Beach has some unique challenges due to its location on the water. Here are just a few of the ways those who own Miami Beach luxury real estate may be affected by global warming:

  • Rise in sea level. Scientists predict that sea levels will rise by three to seven inches by the year 2030. This is making it more expensive to insure and more difficult to finance Miami Beach luxury real estate. Buyers of Miami Beach homes for sale are willing to pay much more for newer homes that have been built in a way to withstand rising water levels rather than risk their property being damaged or underwater in a few years’ time.
  • Effects on drinking water. Due to surface runoff water pollution from flooding, fertilizers, and herbicides leaking into bodies of water, littering, and saltwater intrusion, the water supply in Miami-Dade County is increasingly at risk. The Biscayne aquifer is where residents of southeast Florida get the majority of their drinking water and it is being continually intruded by saltwater. The only way to mitigate this is to invest in water treatment facilities that cost billions of dollars. 
  • Miami Waterkeeper, a local organization dedicated to creating and sustaining swimmable, drinkable water, educates the community about ways to avoid contributing to further pollution. One of the most important things community members can do is to eliminate the use of urban septic systems, which routinely pollute groundwater in South Florida. 
  • Increased risk of hurricanes. In 2020, the Miami area experienced a record-breaking 30 named storms, 13 of which developed into hurricanes and all but one making landfall. Meteorological experts predict the storm seasons will only continue to get worse as time goes on, prompting the Miami area to propose constructing 13-foot floodwalls along part of Miami’s beachfront to protect property and people from storm surges.
  • FEMA’s recent update to the National Flood Insurance Program’s risk rating means that they are better equipped to assess the potential risk of flooding in coastal areas with a more equitable approach. No longer will they use the outdated Flood Map from the 1970s. Now, flood insurance policy holders will begin to see accurate data regarding their unique flood risk. 

What does this mean for Miami Beach homebuyers?

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom when it comes to living in Miami Beach and those looking at Miami Beach homes for sale need to weigh the cost vs. the benefits. With its non-stop nightlife, miles of beautiful white-sand beaches, and gorgeous year-round weather, Miami Beach is still one of the top places to live in the nation. If you decide this is well worth the challenges involved in the changing climate and you want to start looking for a waterfront estate, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Work with an experienced Miami Beach luxury real estate agent. To increase your odds of finding Miami Beach homes for sale that will withstand inclement weather and meet your family’s needs, choose an agent who is experienced in the Miami Beach luxury market and keeps up on environmental issues that may affect your new home.
  • Consider new and recent constructions. Homes that have been built more recently are being constructed with more resilient materials and with new building methods that make them safer and better able to stand up to hurricanes and rising sea levels. Before you make a decision to buy, talk with your agent and—if possible—the builder to find out more details about your future home.
  • Get properly insured. To protect your investment, you need to get the proper insurance. Before you settle on one of the Miami Beach homes for sale, talk with a local home insurance professional to find out what coverages you’ll need and how much it will cost to insure your new home and all your belongings are covered financially.
  • Have a backup plan. No one wants to think about having to evacuate their new home in the face of a flood or hurricane, but you need to have a plan in place should the worst happen. Those who own Miami Beach luxury real estate as a second or vacation home can simply return to their primary residence until the danger passes. However, if you are buying a Miami Beach home as your first home, you need to make a plan for yourself, your pets, and any irreplaceable possessions. You also need to commit to staying informed about developing storm systems so you have plenty of time to get out of harm’s way.

Though climate change will continue to be a major factor when it comes to living on the waterfront in Miami Beach, it’s not a reason to avoid this area for your next home. The benefits still far outweigh the costs, especially when you do your research and work with professionals who can help you find a home that is safe as it is luxurious. Ready to get started? Reach out to trusted Miami Beach luxury real estate agent Ross Milroy for expert help in finding the waterfront home of your dreams.

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