Housing and property - latest news and research

Climate change is endangering maples and oaks.

Autumn cold puts color on our leaves. This winter’s drought will put holes in them.

Winter moth damage due to global warmingThe unusual drought in much of the Northeast is expected to persist through the winter, posing problems for farmers, private well owners, even ski resorts. If your town has water restrictions that usually terminate with autumn rains and winter snow, they may need to stay in place.

The most noticeable damage from drought, however, may be to maples, oaks, and other […]

Floating structures. Sustainable? Or not so much?

Good: we safeguard them from sea-level change. Bad: it’s like we’re paving over farmland.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-11-40-48-amSwale, an open-to-all garden on a 130′ x 40′ barge in Brooklyn, floats in the East River. It not only provides new public space but, because it’s on the water, Swale avoids the city’s prohibition on growing and picking food in public areas.

A 6-mile floating pontoon on the Chicago River is being planned to serve as a bike path.

There are clusters of houseboats in […]

Will Washington still spend for climate resilience?

The federal government may no longer help to slow global warming. Will they continue to pay to prevent its damage?

Raising homes to protect from sea level rise from global warming.The US Army Corp of Engineers is proposing to raise 341 homes and businesses along the beaches and salt ponds of southern Rhode Island.

It may seem wrong to use public money to save private structures, but if we accept that federal and state funds should be used […]

Finally, official flood-mapping looks ahead

Flood maps aren’t just for mortgage lenders anymore. They’re for planners (like you and me).

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-8-16-32-amThousands of homes were flooded in New York City during Superstorm Sandy – even though they were outside the FEMA-defined floodplain. Since then, the city challenged FEMA to produce maps that are both more accurate for current storms and that take into account higher sea levels in the future.

The result: FEMA agreed to produce maps showing which homes will be at […]

Fighting drought in, yes, New England

Drought from falling aquifers is mostly in the West, right? Not this year! Check out some solutions.

screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-10-26-14-amNew England got about half the rain it needs last summer. Much of northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire are in an extreme drought, and wells are going dry all over the place. The drought is expected to last through the fall. On top of problems for agriculture, a shortened fall foliage season could really hurt tourism as well.

There’s no immediate solution, but many […]

Mathew reminds us: flood insurance rates set to jump

Washington’s flood insurance “relief” bill expires September 2017. Good for taxpayers; scary for housing markets.

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-11-50-59-amA while back Congress noticed the huge deficit caused from subsidized flood insurance rates and jacked them up to cover actual losses. (You know like a real insurance company.) Many homeowners’ rates tripled. The shouts were deafening. The resulting Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act brought rates back down, but that ‘relief’ from reality expires next September.

Congress and the casualty insurance industry are looking at […]

Is your 'habitat' shifting?

Human migration from climate change: any parallels to animal migration?

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.12.33 AMI’ve long written that pulling up stakes and moving to a more climate-proof hometown will be the most effective way to protect against the growing costs from warming. Drastic, yes, but for many families, migration will be necessary to avoid physical damage from flooding and drought, as well as financial threats to property values, local taxes, and health, plus general economic decline.

We’re not the […]

Predictive flood maps

Wall Street spends huge on predictive models. So does the military. So why doesn’t Washington even try to predict the extent of flooding in Louisiana?

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 11.54.48 AMWhen updated flood maps for the New York City region were created in 2013, residents were shocked to find the flood zone had expanded to include double the number of houses and businesses since the maps were produced less than twenty years before. This change was driven by new […]

Omaha dirt streets

Deferred maintenance is straining street repair budgets. One solution: tear up the potholed pavement, put down gravel.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.02.32 AMIn Omaha, where well-off suburban streets are being removed, resentment is high, lawsuits are threatened, and the conflict appears long-term. But Omaha residents may just be the noisiest. Almost half of Michigan counties have taken some roads back to gravel. Lots of other states and towns have started doing the same.

As the country warms, heat, flooding and […]

Your neighbors’ insurance policies protect you

Sure, insurance helps those who get their claims paid. But the rest of us benefit too.

Properties without disaster insurance drag down nearby homevalues

If insured, your neighbors clean up their damaged properties faster. Fewer buildings are abandoned. And your middle-class neighborhood (and home value) is less likely to take an economic dive.

Another climate-proofing effect of insurance: premium discounts encourage homeowners to take hazard-mitigation steps before a disaster.

If you live in a high-risk area, chances […]