Rising Sea Levels Could Cost U.S. Homeowners Trillions

In the near future, there may be a new definition of underwater home owners. Buying a seaside home for retirement might not be a great decision by the end of the century. By 2100, many coastal homes may be gone, or on the verge of disappearing.

Zillow, a company that maintains a database of home price values and real estate transactions, says climate change and rising sea levels threaten to swallow about 1.9 million U.S. homes worth a combined $882 billion, by the end of the century. Current research suggests sea levels could rise to about six feet by the end of the century, as long as current levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked. Should sea levels rise six feet, about 300 U.S. cities are expected to lose at least half their homes, and 36 cities will be completely lost to the sea.

Homes in Florida, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York seem to be the most at risk of being destroyed by rising sea levels. Of course, when one home goes into the water, another becomes waterfront. So the houses that don’t get washed away could eventually be worth more. Still, scientists say water levels could continue to rise until the year 2500.

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