Zillow factors in home value after climate change

Jacksonville loses most to rising ocean

Hurricane Irma's storm sturge pushed the St. Johns River's waters past Independent Drive to Bay Street.
Hurricane Irma's storm sturge pushed the St. Johns River's waters past Independent Drive to Bay Street.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Jacksonville leads in the number of potential flooded homes in northeast Florida if the ocean rises based on Zillow median home value and NOAA data. 

It's no surprise Florida stands to the lose the most property due to rising seas-908,183 homes lost, compared to only 180,110 in the state with the second-most underwater homes, New Jersey. But Jacksonville could see an estimated 11,439 potential homes underwater if the ocean continues to rise.

Five out of the top ten metro areas hardest hit by rising seas are located in Florida with Miami first, Tampa third and followed by Ft. Myers. 

According to Zillow, 1.9 million homes across the nation are projected to be underwater by the year 2100 if the oceans rise six feet – roughly midway between the high end of what the government (considered a conservative source) says is “very likely” (4.3 feet) and the possibility of an 8-foot or greater rise than “cannot be excluded.” 

While wealthier coastal homes and those fringing the St. Johns river may have more to lose in dollars, sea rise could be especially catastrophic for owners of the lowest-valued homes, since residents with less income are many times burdened with mortgage payments. Many of these homeowners have much of their lifetime earnings invested in their home value.

In Jacksonville alone, the losses are projected to total $172 million for the owners of lower-end homes, $224 million for homes valued in the middle tier, and just over a staggering $3 billion for high-end homeowners.

Between Jacksonville, JAX Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine, nearly 26,480 homes could be lost. 

Monitoring sites measuring the water level at Mayport and St. Simons Island have shown an average increase of about 7 to 8 inches over the last hundred years. Sea level change is unequal across the planet with the average global sea rise of 3.4 millimeters per year measured by NASA satellites. This is slightly faster than the increase along the First Coast.

Climate researchers say there has been a higher acceleration in the rate of change with 4.3 feet becoming very likely over the next 100 years.

While there will be risk in the future, the insurance industry stands ready to aid homeowners but the cost may drive up premiums. 

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