Tag Archives: waterfront real estate

The Bird-Friendly Waterfront Home

by Lucy Hudson

Designing a Bird-Friendly Waterfront Home

Waterfront homes are worth $134 billion nationally as of June 2018 with transactions for these types of properties ranging between 0.4-06% of all real estate dealings. Living close to a body of water such as a lake, ocean or river commands a premium price with great views, access to the water and even gorgeous wildlife such as birds. Unfortunately, bird deaths are also substantial due to collisions and crashes. Thus,

Discourage Birds from Flying into Windows

There are about 300 species of birds that live on or near the sea including puffers, albatrosses, tropic birds and pelicans. Alas, collision with glass is not uncommon and each year, bird mortality is estimated to be between 365 million to 988 million. The reflection of the water on the windows make birds believe that it is an extension of the waterway, sea or sky.

Although new glass technology is available such as UV, patterned, translucent or opaque glass, not everyone can afford expensive window renovations to their waterfront property. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize bird crashes and ensure that birds are safe. Putting decals on windows and applying window films warn birds not to fly into windows. Chimes around your glass windows also alert them of possible dangers. Drawing curtains partially during the day also helps, as well as installing internal shades and blinds. At night, avoiding lights near windows that attract birds reduces collisions and crashes. It also prevents dangerous conditions for night-migrating birds that may be drawn to the light and unable to break away.

Making Your Home Inviting and Safe

Keeping your waterfront home bird-friendly is an important consideration if there are substantial bird populations in your vicinity. At the same time, you’ll want to entice birds on your property and welcome them. Putting a birdbath in your garden, providing food and nesting shelter are great options to encourage them to stay for a while or make frequent visits. Flowers, shrubs and other plants that are endemic to the area are familiar to the local bird population. They will likely stop by for food and shelter when they see native landscapes.

In turn, birds control insect and rodent infestation and reduce the transmission of diseases, and regenerate habitats. For property owners, they get to bird-watch right in their own backyards.

Waterfront homes are simply divine. They allow access to the water, offer great views and other water-based recreational facilities. Wildlife is also fantastic with the presence of birds providing pleasure to humans. Keeping them safe by bird-proofing windows ensure that collisions and crashes are reduced.

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.

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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!