Commercial property owners should take note of changing weather patterns. According to the National Climate Assessment, a report created by the Federal Advisory Committee with the help of more than 300 experts, heavy downpours have increased in recent decades throughout the United States, especially in the Northeast, Midwest and Great Plains. Flooding has also been a major issue, resulting in an average loss of almost 8 billion dollars each year between 19981 and 2011 – and flooding is expected to worsen in the coming years.
The report also shows that hurricane activity in the Atlantic has increased, and models predict an increase in the highest level storms during this century.
Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is the predicted rise in sea levels.
The National Ocean Service states that sea levels are rising, and they’re doing so at an increasing rate. In United States coastal communities, nuisance flooding is three to nine times more prevalent than it was 50 years ago – a problem made even more significant by the fact that close to 40 percent of the population lives in coastal areas.
A paper published in Nature Climate Change predicts that millions of people living in coastal areas in the United States could be at risk by 2100.
The effect on property value is already being felt.
New York Times reports that homebuyers are increasingly reluctant to buy property right on the water’s edge. Homes sales in areas prone to flooding have grown less quickly – by about 25 percent – than in other areas.
Risk & Insurance reports that increased flood activity is already causing the resale values of coastal homes in certain areas — Miami, Atlantic City and Norfolk — to drop.
It’s not an issue commercial property owners can afford to ignore any longer.
Even if sea levels do not rise as much as some of the models predict – something everyone is hoping for – the decreased interest in purchasing property in vulnerable coastal areas will affect property owners, especially those looking to sell their properties in the coming decades.
When constructing new buildings, it’s wise to take predictions of future sea levels into account and to build on higher ground. For existing properties, vulnerable areas should be flood-proofed as much as possible, and floodwalls should be constructed where needed.
This is a large-scale issue, so in addition to working to protect individual properties, property owners should encourage local governments to develop safeguards against flooding, such as breakwalls and better drainage systems.
And because there’s no way to guarantee that a property will be safe, property owners should also purchase adequate insurance in case flood damage occurs.