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Environmental Economics: Wealthy Floods in Palm Beach, Florida

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Palm Beach, Florida, is known for its flooding impacts. Many of the effects that cause flooding in Palm Beach are sea-level rise which causes king tides, seasonal flooding, and water rising and remaining stagnant. In addition, there are predictions that worse is to come, such as the entire city of palm beach being uninhabitable.

Image One: Flooding in West Palm Beach, Florida

In the long term, temperature change predictions, current flooding events, and turbulent storms may significantly negatively impact public finances and home values. Although Palm Beach is known for its flooding impacts, this has not slowed down the wealthy from purchasing expensive coastal area property in this location.

Image Two: Palm Beach, Florida

For example, billionaire Thomas Peterffy purchased his home in Palm Beach seven years ago for 52 million. Financier Scott Shleefeer purchased real estate in palm beach this year for over 120 million. Real estate developer Todd Glaser recently purchased a real-estate property for 18.5 million.

Coastal area property purchases have increased during the pandemic nationwide in the United States. Flood-prone areas were purchased earlier this year at a 13.6 premium compared to properties less prone to flooding.

Image Three: Pictured from left to right, Investment Broker Thomas Peterffy, Financer Scott Shleefeer, and Real Estate Developer Todd Glaser.

Flooding may not be as high of a risk and concern for the wealthy because they have the financial resources to rebuild and relocate; having access to wealth can turn a crisis into an inconvenience. Additionally, many wealthy individuals have more than one home compared to individuals of a lower socioeconomic status.

In Florida, there is no lawful protocol that implicates that sellers must include the flooding history of properties. For individuals who are not wealthy, purchasing a home is the largest purchase they will make within their lifespan. Therefore, not knowing the initial background of a property prone to flooding may be a significant financial loss if the property is deemed unlivable, unsafe, or inefficient to sell in the future.

Image Four: A mansion located in Palm Beach, Florida.

The city relies upon property tax income because Palm Beach is within a state that does not have state income taxes. Property tax income can significantly help the city combat temperature change impacts.

Glaser stated that the infrastructure of his new estate would be built higher than the previous home on the property; this change would apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps requirements. However, Glaser's property resides in a location predicted to be at risk of a 98% chance of flooding over time. This dimension was an assessment based on the First Street Foundation Organization. First Street Foundation measures properties based on climate risk.

Image Five: Property elevation in Palm Beach, Florida.

In the long-term, temperature change predictions, current flooding events, and turbulent storms may significantly negatively impact public finances and home values for Palm Beach residents.

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