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Don't Buy Oceanfront Property

Beach house reality TV shows: Do not buy oceanfront property.

Stashed in: Homeless, New Orleans

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Even if their properties don’t end up in the ocean, homeowners may lose money on their investments when enough other people finally begin to comprehend rising sea levels. That could happen within a decade or two, according to some estimates, quickly undermining coastal property values.

Wealthy people are better prepared to withstand the financial blow of the loss or devaluing of a beach house—and they may also be more likely to get government help to protect their investments. A group of high-end homeowners in South Carolina recently persuaded legislators to change a law that banned seawalls, which will let them rebuild their crumbling protection. And an NBC investigation revealed earlier this year that FEMA had moved the lines on flood maps to the benefit of wealthy oceanside landowners. (The FBI is investigating.)

Of course, telling people about reality doesn’t ensure they will make good decisions. On Beachfront Bargain Hunt, a woman from Annapolis, Maryland, considers properties in Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her real estate agent tells her that one property that has no dune between the back door and the ocean is a “nonconforming home.” That means that if storm damage amounted to more than 50 percent of the house’s value, she would not be able to rebuild. “So I could spend $300,000 on a house and not be able to rebuild and have nothing? … That’s very scary.” Yes, it is.

In California it's impossible for anyone but rich people to afford ocean front property.

The state is losing a football field of land every 48 minutes — 16 square miles a year — due to climate change, drilling and dredging for oil and gas, and levees on the Mississippi River.

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