Climate Driven Real Estate Markets

Climate Change Housing

            Pearl River      At first, the article just caught my eye because it mentioned Rockford, Illinois.  Rockford has my attention these days, because we worked with local people to file an application for a low-powered FM station there that is still pending before the FCC.  Why would Rockford, mainly known for not being too far from either Chicago or Milwaukee, be in a headline in the Wall Street JournalPerhaps even more surprising was the claim that Rockford had the hottest real estate market right now in the country.  What the hey?!?

I read a bit of the piece and moved on.  Rockford sounded like it had affordable housing, which counts for a lot these days, a lot of green space, and had achieved a big turnaround from the 2008 meltdown, where it was a foreclosure disaster zone.  I was most attracted to their list of the top twenty hot markets according to their real estate index.

This was a strange list.  I tore it out of the paper to study more over the weekend.  There was something that seemed off about the list, and it was more than just being led by Rockford.  Finally, I got it.  There was nothing anywhere in the Sun Belt. No Arizona, California, Texas, Georgia, or Florida.  How could that be possible?  These states had led migration and housing demand for decades.  Making the list of top twenty, Ohio led with five cities.  Michigan had two, as did Massachusetts, and the Indiana/Kentucky area.  Pennsylvania and Wisconsin mid-sized cities were there, as were a smattering from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  Virginia and Tennessee were represented, but not where you would expect around Nashville, DC suburbs, or Norfolk-Newport News, but up in the hills.

I had read a book recently called On the Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America by Abrahm Lustgarten.  As the title makes clear, it was about climate migration.  The author was trying to remain with his family in the California Bay Area, but given water shortages, fires, and more, he wasn’t sure how long he could make it.  He was touting moving to Michigan and the climate security of Detroit and Lansing.  In a mini-family meeting, enjoying some birthday cake that our daughter had found for our son, in a bit of climate-based gallows humor common to those of us living along the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, I asked if the family should start looking for a safe house in Detroit or its environs.  Looking at this list, it seemed like the whole country was on the run to the blue and away from the red states.  This was essentially a top-twenty list for climate migration.

Rereading the whole article finally, as I write this report, my insight turned out to be accurate, even if a lot less brilliant when I came to the last paragraph, which disclosed the realities that drove this new ranking:

For the first time, the ranking also looked at the percentage of homes in each market that are at risk of being affected by extreme heat, wind, air quality, flood and wildfire over the next 30 years. (News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates

What can I say?  Water is rising.  Forests are burning.  Droughts are devastating.  The Permian Basin is subsiding.  The Gulf Coast and other sea coasts have seen water rises in recent years of between 6 and 8 inches.  The news is out, no matter what the Congressional deniers are saying.  People are packing!