- Miami could be partially underwater and unlivable within 80 years, science indicates.
- Despite the dire predictions, wealthy home buyers are still snapping up luxury waterfront real estate.
- Miami real-estate agents say their clients aren't concerned with rising sea levels in the undetermined future.
- "They want to enjoy their wealth now with their families in their homes," one real estate broker told Business Insider.
Miami and Miami Beach already struggle with serious flooding related to sea-level rise, even when there is no rain, as Business Insider's Kevin Loria previously reported. The flat, low-lying areas are surrounded by rising seas, and the ground underneath is mostly porous limestone, which means water will eventually rise through it.
"Miami as we know it today - there's virtually no scenario under which you can imagine it existing at the end of the century," Jeff Goodell, author of "The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World" told Business Insider in 2018. "It may be some smaller version of Miami that incorporates platform houses and floating structures."
Estimates vary on the exact degree of sea level rise, but the US National Ocean Service suggests global sea levels could rise by nearly 6 feet by 2100. The average elevation of Miami is 6 feet above sea level, according to CityData.com and NASA.
Despite the warnings, Miami developers are still rolling out luxury developments right on the water - and wealthy home-buyers are snapping them
But these predictions haven't stopped Miami developers from rolling out luxury developments along the water or wealthy home buyers from snapping up high-end real estate left and right.
More and more high-net-worth individuals and families from high-tax states like New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois are moving to the Miami area to take advantage of Florida's status as a no-income tax state. And many of them want to be in prime waterfront locations, Dora Puig, a top real estate broker in the area, previously told Business Insider.
Miami real estate agents say today's luxury home buyers aren't considering tomorrow's sea levels
"My clients are not making their home-purchasing decision on what may or may not be 100+ years out," Dina Goldentayer, the executive director of sales at Douglas Elliman in Miami Beach, told Business Insider. "They want to enjoy their wealth now with their families in their homes."
Audrey Ross, the vice president for Compass in South Florida, said her clients never bring up the topic.
"So far, no one has dropped a deal or actually even mentioned this issue to me in my dealings with the luxury home market," she told Business Insider. "I can only remember having it mentioned once to me over the past ten years, as any issue in waterfront property as a concern."
Ross said that in the luxury area where she lives, neighbors building new homes simply make their seawalls higher. "I think this issue for a lot of the population is too far in the distance for them to be immediately concerned about changing their luxury lifestyle," she said.
Still, some "eco-conscious" buyers are drawn to buildings like Eighty Seven Park, a luxury condominium complex in Miami Beach, because of its elevation, said Goldentayer, who handles sales for the building.
"This project is located on the most elite position of Miami Beach from a flood elevation point of view - we are the highest," Goldentayer said.
But Business Insider's Aria Bendix reported in February that the building, which includes a $68 million penthouse that could shatter real-estate records, is not safe from the area's rising sea levels.
"I'm not sure that [Miami] can adequately plan for 6 feet [of sea level rise]," Hauer, a scientist who published a 2016 study in the journal Nature Climate Change examining the risk of sea-level rise in the continental US, told Bendix. "It's water level as high as I am."
For now, it seems, Miami's luxury real estate market will continue to swell along with the sea levels.