Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 2

Mounting recognition of global warming and its likely effect on the Florida coast has mobilized many people in the state to take action. Though some continue to doubt the existence, much less the severity, of climate change, many Floridians are actively engaged in efforts to mitigate the damage that global warming is expected to inflict on their coast.

The election of Donald Trump as next President introduces a new set of variables, however – and a heightened level of risk – to the situation. Trump has long been a skeptic of human contributions to global warming, and his stance does not appear to have softened at all since being elected. To head his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump recently selected Myron Ebell – a prominent climate contrarian – who is expected to help Trump deliver on his campaign vow to repeal the Obama administration’s climate change policies. Climate scientists fear that the Trump administration’s cavalier attitude towards climate change – and of the causal role played by humans – will significantly hasten the consequences of global warming, including the flooding of United States coastal regions.

Ironically, real estate mogul and President-elect Trump owns a slew of South Florida properties, some situated in regions considered to be at risk of disappearing underwater by the end of this century. Whether or not Trump’s personal and business ties to coastal Florida will make him any more sympathetic to the pleas of climate scientists, we may soon find out.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Aerial view of Mar-a-Lago, the oceanfront estate of billionaire Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump and Slovenian model Melania Knauss will hold their reception at the mansion tonight after their nuptials at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

President-elect Trump’s Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago.

Regardless of what ends up happening to Florida’s coastal regions, many predict that the publicity surrounding sea-level rise may very well cause property values in those areas to take a plunge.

Even now, Florida’s housing market is already starting to feel the impact of sea-level rise. Compared with a 2.6 percent increase nationally, home sales in high-risk flood zones in Miami-Dade County dropped about 7.6 percent this past year. In the past few years, areas most prone to flooding have had significantly slower sales than other parts of the county. This correlation is in keeping with a nationwide trend: throughout the country, median home prices in areas at high risk of flooding are 4.4 percent below what they were 10 years ago. This is due, in large part, to the astronomical cost of flood insurance. As flood insurance premiums rise, property values fall.

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In addition to the increased publicity about the likely repercussions of sea-level rise in coastal Florida, people are also discouraged from purchasing homes in those regions due to the state’s lax disclosure laws. In some states, such as California, Pennsylvania, and Washington, state and local real estate agents are required by law to provide thorough and accurate disclosure of a property’s past history of flooding, as well as its risk for future flooding. In Florida, however, laws requiring real estate agents to notify purchasers about a property’s likelihood of experiencing natural hazards only apply to a limited stretch of the state’s coast. On top of that, there are no penalties for a real estate agent’s failure to comply. Potential buyers are given no guarantee, and no sense of assurance, that their new property won’t soon be underwater.

Localities across coastal Florida worry that if property values continue to fall, they won’t be able to fund the upgrades needed to protect their towns against rising sea-level. This is because much of their revenue is generated through property and sales taxes, and thus relies on having a large population of homeowners to tax. As concerns about coastal flooding continue to grow, and demand for coastal property continues to decline, these towns will fail to attract new homeowners and their current residents will relocate, causing their populations to shrink. Without sufficient tax revenue, they won’t be able to afford the projects necessary to combat the rising seas, and will thus be forced to flea to higher grounds.

florida-coast-sea-levelhttp://www.environmental-watch.com/2014/05/30/south-florida-at-high-sea-level-rise/

Some owners will decide to unload their coastal property before rising seas render it unlivable or unsellable, and while its value is still relatively high. Others will stay put, and continue to enjoy the wonders of coastal Florida living. Whether dubious of the precipitously rising sea and the dangers it portends, or simply willing to take the risk and live with the consequences, they will keep on living the Florida waterfront dream, one day at a time.

Florida’s Sinking Coast – Part 1

The earth’s ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, and sea levels are rising just as rapidly. According to a recent study, ice melt has caused sea water levels to rise nearly 7.8 inches in the last 150 years alone. With 2016 slated to become the hottest year on record, ice melt and sea level rise show no signs of slowing down.

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Many low-lying coastal areas throughout the world are routinely flooded, and many in the past century have become completely and irreversibly submerged. If global sea level continues to rise at this rate, coastal communities all across the globe may soon meet with a similar fate.

Coastal Florida is one such area. Parts of Miami, as well as other low-lying parts of the state, routinely experience flooding during high tides, and local governments throughout South Florida have already begun spending money on drainage improvements and pumping equipment. But how much will sea levels continue to rise? How quickly? How will this affect a Florida economy so dependent on coastal tourism? And what, if anything, can be done to prevent it?

Many scientists estimate that sea levels will rise somewhere between 3 and 6 feet by the end of the century. In certain low-lying parts of Florida, the shoreline is expected to move about 300 feet inland with each foot of sea level rise. Some worry that such low-elevation Florida cities as Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Bradenton, Punta Gorda, Naples, and Holmes Beach will either turn into islands or become completely submerged within the next 100 years. The following image is a projection, generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, of how Miami-Dade County would likely be affected by a 3-foot rise in sea levels.

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In addition to permanently inundating low-lying coastal lands, rising sea levels are also expected to cause a huge increase in storm surge and tidal floods along Florida coastland. Of the 10 urban centers in the United States that are most vulnerable to storm surge – temporary rise in sea level that is caused by storms – Florida is home to over half. Tidal flooding resulting from storm surge typically drains from the land in a matter of days, but the damage it causes is often substantial. Southeast Florida currently experiences an average of 10 tidal floods annually, but within the next 30 years, scientists estimate that the region will be forced to endure a staggering 240 floods annually.

In Florida, sea-level rise is not merely a science issue, says Boca Raton-based oceanographer John Englander, but “a real estate, finance and built-environment issue” as well. Should sea levels rise significantly within the next century, measures currently being taken to prevent coastal flooding – such as elevating infrastructure and buildings, building detention ponds, installing pumps, digging runoff tunnels, and improving storm sewers – will not be enough to keep the coasts above water, and people will be forced to evacuate many South Florida areas. This would inevitably lead to a spike in property value in higher-elevation, inland regions just north of the southern coast, like Highlands, Polk, and Lake counties.

gw-impacts-graphic-coastal-states-at-risk-from-global-sea-level-risehttp://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/causes-of-sea-level-rise.html#.WD0gh6IrInU

So what does this mean for property owners along the Florida coast? Well, at this point much remains unclear. Those living in Florida – citizens and government officials alike – can’t seem to agree on the merits of the scientific evidence indicating that sea level rise is real, or if the threat it poses to their coasts is legitimate. As a result, little has been done to prepare the state’s coastal communities for what potentially lies ahead.

Some folks – including builders, architects, realtors, and developers – are skeptical of the supposed dangers posed by rising sea levels, and view the whole thing as overblown. They point out that sea levels naturally fluctuate over time, and view the recent increase as just the current swing of a pendulum that will inevitably head back in the opposite direction.

Others very much believe the warning calls from scientists, and insist that we take heed. They worry that unless action is taken now, taxpayers will end up having to spend a fortune trying to reverse the problem later on down the road. But by then, some fear, it will be too late; much of low-lying Florida will have drowned, tourism revenue will have plummeted, and the state economy will have taken a nosedive.

So who’s right? And what does all of this speculation mean for Florida’s coastal real estate market? Stay tuned for Part 2, as we discuss how sea-level rise is already beginning to affect Florida’s coastal homeowners.

Paradise Found

For most folks, the appeal of beachfront living is the ability to open one’s blinds in the morning and watch the sunrise over calm waters just outside; it is the freedom to take a dip, a boat ride, or a stroll along the shore at one’s leisure; it is the luxury of enjoying a glass of wine from the deck as one gazes out upon the moonlit water below. For most folks, it is the myriad pleasures afforded by proximity to water that encourage them to seek out waterfront homes, rather than the actual homes themselves.

But every now and then, there comes along a home that manages to deliver on both fronts; a home that offers all the perks of waterfront living, yet also stands alone as an architectural masterpiece. The home found at 2-2680 E. Cliff Dr., #8, in Santa Cruz, California, is just such a masterpiece.

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Designed by Patti Boe, a realtor, artist and jewelry designer whose pieces have been featured in exclusive New York City galleries, this home was masterfully created to provide an experience similar to what one would encounter in an underwater cave. Inspired by her trips to the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, and Honduras, Boe sought to create a home that encapsulated the tropical feel of the Caribbean Islands. Every aspect of the home has been specially designed to embody the white sand, clear blue waters, and vibrant wildlife one would find while swimming in the Caribbean.

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Smooth, undulating counters of polished concrete run throughout the entire house, giving the impression of sea cave walls; etched glass of light-blue suggests the swirl of underwater currents; bamboo floors awash with curving blue hint at tidal waters lapping a sandy beach. All walls, ceilings, and counters appear to melt and flow into one another, transforming the entire space into an extension of the beautiful beach setting just outside. A tropical fish tank designed and installed by John DiGarlamo – who helped design parts of the Monterey Bay Aquarium – further blurs the division between indoor and outdoor, contributing to the overall immersive experience of being underwater. Cool white walls adorned with original artwork, seashells scattered here and there – some fossilized and embedded around the glass bathroom sinks – and a large iguana statue further add to the beach ambiance. Transitioning through the home gives the impression of floating through an underwater grotto of crystal clear turquoise water. Ample windows and skylights offer constant sea breeze and sunshine throughout the entire interior.

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From the bedroom, one is afforded an unimpeded view of the Pacific, all the way out to the Boardwalk. The Santa Cruz Wharf and Lighthouse at Steamer Lane are visible from the bed, and skylights overhead offer dazzling views of the star- and moonlit sky at night. Outside, a lawn and patio overlook the ocean, with 200-degree views stretching all the way to Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Lighthouse Point.

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A 13-step descent via a hidden pathway brings you to the best beach in all of Santa Cruz, where whale and dolphin sightings are the norm. Seals and otters flailing by the jetties, seagulls lazing above, and pelicans diving down into the waves to find fish are an everyday sight. With two jetties on either side, the surf is great; it is not uncommon to find professional surfers less than a hundred yards out, sometimes with film crews capturing them on camera.

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This home is every bit as breathtaking as the pristine swath of beach right in its backyard. As soon as you set foot in this livable work of art, you are transported to the clear turquoise waters of the Yucatán. Experience it for yourself, and make every day a Caribbean vacation!

Celebrity Beachfront Living

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Leonardo DiCaprio put his Malibu beach house on the market last month, after 18 years of ownership. His asking price? A cool $10.95 million.

DiCaprio purchased the home in 1998, on the heels of the release of Titanic – the colossally popular film that catapulted him into mega stardom. The modern, bungalow-style house is modestly sized – just 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and built on a lot that is less than one-fifth of an acre – but is listed at almost seven times the cost of what DiCaprio originally paid for it.

The house underwent a number of renovations while owned by the Academy Award winner, however, including a new wooden deck – replete with Pacific Ocean-facing hot tub – and a recently upgraded kitchen.

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The home also offers a spacious patio with a stairway leading directly to Carbon Beach – a popular spot among the town’s many celebrities. A gem among Malibu beach real estate, the house is expected to fetch its full listing price, if not more.

Another celebrity-owned oceanfront estate currently up for sale – hip-hop star Lil Wayne’s Miami Beach mansion – is a bigger, flashier alternative to DiCaprio’s quaint, 1,765-square-foot bungalow.

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At 15,101-square-feet, the three-story home contains nine bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a movie theater, a rooftop skate park, a professional recording studio, a shark tank, and even a separate, three-bedroom guesthouse.

The rapper – whose real name is Dwayne Carter Jr. – initially listed the home in April of 2015 for $18 million, but dropped the price to $14 million in July of this year when it failed to generate serious interest among buyers. Less than two months later, Carter Jr. again lowered the price of the mansion, this time to $12 million – $6 million below its original listing.

With a heavily-windowed façade of colliding geometric planes, the house – painted entirely white, inside and out – boasts a sleek, modern aesthetic. The pool and palm trees in the backyard of the house further contribute to the home’s distinctly-Miami look and feel, as do the koi pond, the glass elevator, and its carefully manicured lawns. A narrow pier lining the water’s edge leads to a private boating dock.

The house received news coverage in August of this year, when it was descended upon by SWAT teams who were responding to a caller claiming that a man had been shot at the home. The SWAT team members reportedly conducted a thorough search and found nothing to substantiate the claims.

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It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the estate will soon sell, or if Lil Wayne will have to further slash its asking price, and stomach the loss on his investment. The house is perched atop La Gorce Island – one of the premier islands off of Miami Beach – and it overlooks a canal leading into Biscayne Bay. At $795 per square foot, the home is priced well below the $965-per-square-foot average among homes on La Gorce Island.

Coastline Sustainability

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Public beach along the coasts of the United States has become increasingly privatized and developed over the past half-century. Accompanying this development has been a massive influx of fences, barricades, jetties, and other barriers intended to keep the public away from these privately owned beaches. According to a growing number of recent reports by scientists and environmentalists, these types of barriers play an enormous role in the destruction of our coasts.

The 1960s marked the beginning of the rampant development of shoreline property along our coasts. The efforts of oceanfront property owners, private homeowners’ associations, and coastal municipalities to restrict public access to beaches – and thereby ensure the exclusivity and marketability of their properties – have led to the increasing privatization of America’s sandy shores. As once-public stretches of beach became privately owned, a number of unsustainable development practices proliferated.

Tidal lands, instrumental in soaking up floodwaters, were drained and developed. Sand dunes, which play a crucial role in blocking rising tides, were bulldozed to the ground to maximize ocean views. Jetties, sea walls, and bulkheads were constructed to defend against the assault of incoming tides, but ended up accelerating erosion. Landowners went to great lengths to wall off their stretches of beach from the public, and to delineate their oceanfront property from that of their neighbors. Dikes, fences, and other physical barriers were thrown up by the heap.

According to a New York Times article published in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, these measures contribute significantly to the damage inflicted on coastal lands by hurricanes. The development of tidal lands and the removal of sand dunes have left the Eastern and Southern Seaboards increasingly vulnerable to the assault of hurricanes and other storms. Without tidal lands to soak up floodwaters, or sand dunes to serve as buffers between the ocean and the coast, coastal lands have been subjected to vicious damage at the hands of coastal storms. Jetties, sea walls, bulkheads, fences, and all other sorts of barricades erected by developers to lessen the effects of tidal waters are no match against the powerful winds and tides of such storms, and they are invariably washed ashore at tremendous speeds, and at great costs.

Even without the added impact of hurricanes and storms, these measures – particularly the development of tidal lands and the removal of sand dunes – have made much of our coastline far more susceptible to the effects of erosion and rising sea levels. Without these natural buffers, coastal lands all across the nation are at far greater risk of being eroded, and of being battered by storms.

According to a growing number of scientists, our best defense against the destruction of our coasts would be to declare our coasts public again. An “open beaches” act would put a stop to the harmful – and futile – efforts by private property owners to hold back the sea. It would put an end to the fencing off of public beaches as private domain. And it would better ensure the future of America’s increasingly threatened coasts.

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Unbeknownst to the average beachgoer or coastal tourist, privately owned land comprises a sizable portion of our nation’s public beaches. As shown in the above picture of a coastal town in north Virginia, property lines for oceanfront lots frequently spill over onto adjacent beach land, sometimes even extending well into the sea. Private parcels such as these often contain within their boundaries strips of beach that are freely accessible to, and habitually used by, the public.

Owners of such parcels are often entirely unaware that their property lines extend onto the bordering shore. Owners who are privy to this fact tend to regard the overlapping land as belonging to the public, and they welcome public access (or at least accept it, however begrudgingly). Others, however, believe – and have been known to defend that belief, with varying success, in courts of law – that they are entitled to sole ownership of whatever portion of beach that falls within their property lines, and that public access should be restricted.

The relationship between public beach access and private property rights is a sticky, often complicated issue that has been the subject of countless legal disputes between private owners and municipal or state governments. The aim here is to clarify this confusing issue, to outline how public and private rights to beach access vary among states, and to demonstrate why an understanding of this matter is essential when considering an oceanfront purchase.

Public trust doctrine – the ancient legal principle stipulating that a government may retain and protect certain resources for public use – is responsible for establishing the common law right of state governments to hold in trust all beaches for public use. Today, each individual state is responsible for articulating, interpreting, and enforcing the particular guidelines that determine which beach land may be designated as public.

In most states, public trust doctrine affords the public unrestricted access to all beach land below what is known as the ‘mean high tide line’ – the average line on the shore reached by water at high tide. Citizens are free to use all land located below the mean high tide line – what is referred to as ‘wet beach’ – for fishing, boating, sunbathing, or simply strolling along the shore, and private owners are prohibited from owning this land. Private owners are typically free to own the beach above the mean high tide line, however – what is referred to as ‘dry beach’ – and are in some states legally allowed to restrict public access to that land at their own discretion.

In Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, it is the mean low tide line that demarcates public from private land. In other words, only the land below the average shoreline formed at low tide belongs to the public, and private owners can own land all the way down to that shoreline. The public is allowed access to wet beach, though it doesn’t belong to them, and they are generally barred access to dry beach unless, as in some cases, the private owners allow for public access, or sell the rights to public access to their local or state government.

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http://www.beachapedia.org/Beach_Access

At the other end of the spectrum, Hawai’i, Louisiana, and Washington grant the public unrestricted access to all beach land, and prohibit private buyers from buying any shore property, period. In these cases, the beach is generally understood as the land spanning from the ocean water at low tide all the way to the vegetation line, or where the sand ends. In Oregon, Texas, and New Jersey, private buyers may own dry beach that falls within their property lines, but the public is still guaranteed unfettered access to that beach, regardless of its private ownership; wet beach belongs entirely to the public.

When it comes to increasing public access to beaches, each coastal state faces a unique set of challenges. Different policy restrictions, economic limitations, physical barriers, and population needs all impact a state’s capacity to provide adequate public access to its seashores.

If you are looking to purchase an oceanfront property, an understanding of the public trust doctrine and how it relates to private property rights in whichever state(s) you’re considering is essential. If you don’t like the idea of tourists romping about on your beach property, and would prefer the solitude that private beach access affords you, you might confine your search to the five states in which beach access is more widely restricted to the public, and private beach ownership more feasible. If you are more receptive to the idea of a bustling beach scene just steps from your home, and would prefer the friendly, communal feel of beachgoers from far and wide sharing the beach in your backyard, you might be more drawn to properties in the six states in which public access to beaches is most protected.

 

 

Spotlight: St. Johns River and Nancy Brand

 

When people think of Florida, the glitz and glam of places like Miami and Palm Beach often come to mind. Less talked about, but equally, if not more, worthy of acclaim, are the gorgeous river and lakefront towns of mid-Florida, whose popularity has seen a dramatic spike in the past decade.st-johns-river

These mid-Florida counties are all served by Realtor Nancy Brand, whose knowledge and love of mid-Florida are evidenced by her 30 years of real estate sales in Seminole, East Lake, and West Volusia Counties. Specializing in waterfront, acreage, and unique properties, and with MLS exposure in the Mid-Florida, Lake and West Volusia Boards, Brand is unparalleled in both her depth of experience and her passion for the water and the land that she serves.

A main allure of Mid-Florida, for tourists and homebuyers alike, is St. Johns River, whose shimmering blue waters lazily snake through it. At 310 miles long, St. Johns is the longest river in all of Florida, as well as its most significant river commercially and recreationally. With a very low flow rate of 0.3 mph, St. Johns ebbs and flows peacefully and contains roughly 3,500 total lakes within its overall watershed. Among the largest and most popular of these lakes are Lake Harney and Lake Monroe, both situated by the border of Volusia and Seminole Counties, and both containing a vast diversity of wildlife species.

Volusia County, renowned for its gorgeous natural scenery, is home to a whopping 11 state and national parks. In East Volusia you’ll find Daytona Beach, revered as much for its beautiful sandy beaches as it is for being the home of the Daytona 500 – NASCAR’s most prestigious race, held annually.

Adjacent to Volusia County sits Seminole County – one of Florida’s most rapidly growing counties. In addition to its pristine natural beauty, Seminole County is one of the longest, continually inhabited regions in all of the United States, and boasts a rich history. Native Indians living in the region were famously recruited by British soldiers to fight alongside them during the American Revolution. The British also offered freedom to African-Americans who joined their ranks in battle, and a large number of freed slaves from Alabama and Georgia settled in Seminole to exercise their newfound freedom.

Fishermen from all over the country are drawn to Seminole County by the thousands, attracted in particular by its unparalleled abundance of largemouth bass, black crappies, and bluegills. St. Johns River boasts an astounding 183 species of fish, and is regarded as one of the premier fishing destinations in the United States.

Lake County sits to the west, aptly named for its profusion of lakes. In addition to its 250 named lakes, Lake County is home to nearly 2,000 other bodies of water. With nearly 20% of its overall area comprised of water, Lake County boasts a unique combination of flora not seen in other parts of the state, let alone country; Sweetbay magnolias, cypresses, tupelos, and the breathtakingly beautiful American white water lilies abound, particularly along the banks of the St. Johns. Frog choruses provide a tranquil backdrop to warm Lake County nights.

These counties are in close proximity to Orlando, which recently ranked among the nation’s 10 most desirable cities in which to live, and is host to such major tourist attractions as Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld.

Should you find yourself captivated by all that mid-Florida has to offer, Nancy Brand is your premier resource for all real estate information, services, and properties in the area.

Whether it’s fishing, boating, or lazing away on the St. Johns, Central Florida has something for everyone – come discover your own Florida lifestyle!

 

 

 

Find the Perfect Waterfront Home

When people set out to find the waterfront home of their dreams, they’re often surprised – and overwhelmed – when they realize just how many waterfront properties there are from which to choose.

According to estimates from NASA, there are about 372,000 miles of total coastline in the world, xxslide_03almost 100,000 of which belong to the United States alone. The figure gets even more astounding when you factor in all the miles of land lining our country’s vast number of lakes, ponds, rivers, canals, bayous, and other inland waterways. Atop all this coastal land sits a whole lot of coastal real estate. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that so many people looking to land that waterfront property they’ve always wanted soon find themselves adrift in an endless sea of property listings, unsure of how to distinguish between them and unable to determine which one is right for them.

Atop all this coastal land sits a whole lot of coastal real estate. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that so many people looking to land that waterfront property they’ve always wanted soon find themselves adrift in an endless sea of property listings, unsure of how to distinguish between them and unable to determine which one is right for them.

Finding the right waterfront home comes down to satisfying exactly what it is that you’re looking for. Everyone wants to live by the water, but the particular reasons underlying that desire are far more varied. The following are 3 simple questions to ask yourself that will help you identify exactly what those reasons are, and allow you to hone in on the property that’s the perfect fit for you.

The following are 3 simple questions to ask yourself that will help you identify exactly what those reasons are, and allow you to find the property that’s the perfect fit for you.

1. What types of water-based activities are you hoping to enjoy? Are you looking for calm waters to provide you with serenity and peace of mind? If so, it’s important to ask the locals how crowded various water spots will get during the different seasons. All too frequently people move into their new waterfront home, only to find that the water it borders – so tranquil and secluded when they visited – is teeming with vacationing tourists throughout much of the rest of the year.

Do you have a boat that you plan to take out on the water every day? If so, you’ll need to pay for a dock, which is no small sum. Or if you plan to store it at your house, does your home have a garage large enough to accommodate both your boat and your car? If not, is a bigger garage something you could add on to it?

Do you plan to row out on your dinghy to go fishing every morning? If so, you’re looking for a body of water that accommodates the type of fishing you are after: would you mind if the lake you’re next to is frozen over for a third of the year? Does it matter that the waters you’re fishing in are designated for catch-and- release? Knowing which water-based activities you hope to enjoy, and what each of these activities demands of your potential home, is an essential step in your search.

2. How do you envision yourself making use of the home in 10 years? 20? Do you plan on retiring at your waterfront property? If so, you’ll want to consider a number of other factors as well. Will you be able to access, let alone enjoy, water-based activities in your old age in the same ways you enjoy them now? Does the property offer easy access to medical needs? To shopping?

Are you planning on renting it out when you’re not enjoying it? If so, what improvements need to be made to make it rentable? Do you have the money for these improvements? Will you be able and willing to take care of issues that arise when it is being rented? If you decide to one day sell the property, is its value likely to have appreciated?

3. Which qualities and amenities are strictly non-negotiable? What requirements do you have for your waterfront home that you are unwilling to compromise? Unhindered water views from the master bedroom? Private beach access? 4 bedrooms? A tightly-knit waterfront community? Seclusion from others, or at the other end of the spectrum, vibrant local tourism? Compiling a list of the essentials is a valuable step toward helping you narrow down your search. Before dismissing a property for lacking one of these items, remember to ask yourself if you could add the item yourself. Could one of the bedrooms be split into two? Could the windows be upgraded or enlarged to take in more of the view?

Providing answers to these three questions before embarking on your search will allow you to whittle away at the seemingly countless waterfront listings you’ll encounter. Your answers will provide you with a much clearer idea of what it is you are after, help you parse through a multitude of listings, and allow you to better identify the right home when you see it. Though it will require some time, answering these questions thoughtfully and thoroughly will take you one giant step closer to that idyllic waterfront home you’ve always wanted.

The Restorative Power of Water, Part 2

IMG_1727How are natural environments different?

A growing number of environmental psychologists suggest that natural environments create a regenerative power for us. Unlike our built environments, natural
environments engage us without overbearing us.

Rather than grabbing and monopolizing our attention, they grant our minds the freedom to wander from one sensory experience to another as we please.

Imagine the placid ripple of an emerald pond; waist-high lemon grass swaying in the savannah breeze; the soft trickle of a spring, meandering through a forest. Each scene affords us ample opportunity for visual pleasure, inviting our contemplation without demanding it.

Our eyes are free to pass over each natural element at will. The mental relief afforded to us by natural environments is not only calming and pleasurable, but it helps to restore our depleted attentional resources as well, leaving us better-equipped to return to the demands of regular life.

This is the crux of the Attention Restoration Theory – the recognition of natural environments as uniquely capable of allowing us to recharge our attentional reserves, and avoid the mental fatigue so ubiquitous in our increasingly artificial surroundings.

Is all nature experienced the same?

Some scientists have begun to shift their focus from nature as a whole to various features within nature; in other words, rather than lumping all aspects of the natural environment together, they’ve aimed to see if different natural features differ with regard to how we perceive and respond to them.

Blue Space vs. Green Space

What their research has begun to show is that blue space – a term that distinguishes water bodies from green space, such as forests, savannahs, and rolling hills – offers even greater restorative potential than other features of the natural environment.

Streams, rivers, oceans and lakes have been shown to afford greater mental relief than green space does. In so doing, these blue spaces help facilitate the restoration of vital attentional resources that are depleted in everyday life. Studies have shown that

individuals consistently perform better on attention-demanding tasks after spending time in natural environments with blue spaces; in fact, to a certain extent, performance on attention-demanding tasks has even been shown to correlate to the amount of blue space present. In other words, the greater the visual presence of
water within an individual’s environment, the better the individual is likely to perform on attention-demanding tasks.

The notion that natural environments with sizeable blue space provide us with mental relief and restore our attention may help explain why water view and waterfront properties are so desirable.

In the increasingly in-your-face, interconnected digital era in which we currently find ourselves, a waterfront property respite from the bustle of our artificial environments seems more and more appealing.

–Jonny Faerstein

The Restorative Power of Water: Part One

You don’t have to buy a waterfront home to achieve serenity…you can just take a walk, a deep breath, and observe the natural surroundings. But recent research has shown that having a view from your home, particularly of water, can make a difference in your physical and mental condition and your abilities.

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People have long been aware of the calming, rejuvenating effects of nature. Indeed, many of us would agree that we are more relaxed, clear-headed, and cheerful upon returning from a stroll through the woods, the park, or along the shore.

Science has long validated this phenomenon, with study after study demonstrating the power of nature to reduce stress and improve our general wellness.

But despite the breadth of scientific literature alluding to the curative effects of nature, there has been little consensus among scientists regarding the specific mental health benefits it provides, let alone how it provides them. The influence exerted by natural environments upon the human mind has continued to elude our understanding.

A number of recent studies, however, have begun to shine light on the particularities of this influence.

Environmental psychologists exploring how humans experience nature have turned their attention to attention; specifically, to how we direct our attention while amidst nature, and how immersing ourselves in nature influences how we pay attention to things once back in the built environment.

Attention Restoration Theory – a formulation of how the human mind functions within natural, as opposed to manmade, environments – is gaining significant traction within the scientific community.

According to the theory, humans are limited in the amount of attention they are able to pay to objects in their surroundings. Concentrating on the tasks of day-to-day life is a psychologically taxing endeavor, and our finite attentional resources are continually being drained over the course of the day.

In addition to these daily demands, the built environment in which we spend the vast majority of our lives places a tremendous amount of strain on our attentional reserves as well. Artificial environments, so the theory goes, overload our perception with a barrage of stimuli that command and hold our attention.

Consider the example of walking down a busy city street: the roaring engines and frantic honking of cars, crosswalk signals counting down or flashing at us to stop or go, sidewalks cramped with pedestrians hurriedly shouldering past, billboards instructing you what movie to go see or which toothpaste to buy. Even when we arrive home, flipping through the television channels or opening our laptops, we are scarcely able to escape the hyper-stimulation of the modern, interconnected world.

So what happens when our environments bombard us with sensory input that seizes our attention and refuses to let go?

According to Attention Restoration Theory, we eventually begin to experience what is referred to as directed attention fatigue (DAF).

DAF – which occurs when our attentional resources have been depleted – makes it exceedingly difficult for us to focus our attention on any one task for any prolonged amount of time, increases the amount of cognitive mistakes we make in our daily functioning, and can increase our stress levels.

But are all natural environments equally beneficial? Stay tuned for Part Two…the answer may surprise you.