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New Tool Shows the Impact of Climate Change on Virginia Property Values

AP Photo / Steve Helber

Climate change is more than a theory. Now it’s an economic reality. And, it’s already taking a toll on property values across Virginia.

Since 2005, Virginia has lost $280 million in home values because of sea-level rise. That’s according to an analysis from the First Street Foundation, an organization that advocates for sea level rise solutions. The foundation has created an online flood risk tool that allows users to look up specific properties and see how much value has been lost.

Jeremy Porter is a professor at Columbia University who used high-resolution digital elevation models and historical tide-gauge data to build a statistical model to calculate housing values.

“We were interested in identifying an effective way to communicate to the general public that sea-level rise is already impacting their lives, and it’s already impacting probably their most valuable asset that they’ll probably own in their whole life.”

Matthew Eby is executive director at the First Street Foundation, and he says this data can help cities and counties calculate economics to putting solutions in place.

“So if we know that a pump can be put in place to minimize the impacts of flooding, and it cost $5 million. But over a five-year period, that’s going to protect $10 million of property value, then that’s an economic plus for the region and something we should be looking at as a city.”

Enter a specific address into FloodiQ, and you can see your personal risk of flooding today and up to 15 years in the future. You can also see the economic impact to that property from 2005 to today and a forecast for what will happen to the property value into the future.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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