Study puts property value loss in Delaware from sea level rise at upwards of $300 million


Data scientists from First Street Foundation and Columbia University calculate that Delaware homeowners could lose upwards of $300 million in property values from sea level rise.

The Brooklyn, NY foundation recently expanded its analyses of coastal areas to include Delaware.

Researchers said the addition of Mid-Atlantic states brought the total loss in property values among all 15 East Coast states, Alabama, and Mississippi to $15.8 billion.

In addition to Delaware, the report noted that Maryland properties saw a half a billion dollar loss in value followed by Pennsylvania at a paltry $10.1 million.

Among the 17 states analyzed to date, Florida has seen the greatest loss in relative home values at $5.4 billion, followed by New Jersey at $4.5 billion, and New York at $1.3 billion.


Steven A. McAlpine, head of data science at First Street Foundation, and Dr. Jeremy R. Porter, a Columbia University professor, and First Street Foundation statistical consultant, first established their peer-reviewed methodology with an analysis of the Miami-Dade County real estate market.

McAlpine and Porter have since created 18 housing models. By analyzing approximately 13.3 million real estate transactions, and applying the results to 25.6 million properties, the researchers have found a $15.8 billion loss in home value appreciation across 17 states.

“From Maine to Florida and through the Gulf Coast, we have seen the same phenomenon,” said Porter. “Increased tidal flooding has led to a loss in home value appreciation. We expect this trend to not only continue in the coming years but to accelerate along with the accelerating rate of sea level rise.”

The findings of the report are likely to be questioned in Delaware. Buyers have been plentiful for homes in portions of coastal Delaware.

Sussex County has among the lowest property taxes in the nation, a factor that may offset the possibility of future concerns with rising sea levels.

County elected government officials have also been in the ranks of climate change skeptics. By contrast, the State of Delaware has been active in efforts to deal with rising sea levels.

The issue of sea level rise will also have an impact on the region’s infrastructure. Amtrak’s Northeast corridor line along the Delaware River near Wilmington is viewed as being vulnerable to rising sea levels and could require big investments,  Bloomberg reported.