Ocean front property is very different property further inland and carries one very unique risk. If you own oceanfront property, along with all the positive benefits of it, including the sea views, gorgeous sunrises or sunsets, and the sound of waves crashing against the shore, comes the risk of heavy erosion. Depending on where you buy property, erosion can be a very major risk and can leave your dream home of being inundated. If you want to prevent this, make sure that you do research on the areas where you’re looking to buy your land and talk to as many people as possible to make sure your land is not disappearing out from under you.
Effects of Erosion on Ocean Front Property
On inland land, property lines are for the most part unchanging. Once you buy a parcel of land you can be pretty sure that you will have complete control over that area until you decide to sell it barring an eminent domain case by the state. However, on beachfront property, property lines are always changing. This is because your property generally starts a the high water line, and anything below this is considered public beach. The high water line can change from day to day and in stormy seasons may even more as much as 100 feet inland! It is important that you know exactly how much erosion your property is likely to face in the future to make sure that you can enjoy your parcel of land for years to come.
Short-Term and Long-Term Erosion
There are two different types of erosion that you will have to deal with on your oceanfront property. First, you will have to deal with short-term erosion. Short term erosion is caused by hurricanes (or typhoons in the Pacific) and other strong seasonal storms. These violent storms move tons of sand and other debris around when they crash into the land. They can make new inlets, destroy old inlets, and completely reshape coastlines. However, most of the damage done by storms is eventually reversed and the shoreline returns to normal in due time.
The more serious form of shoreline erosion is long-term erosion. Long-term erosion is caused by a variety of factors, including rising sea levels, strong longshore currents, and other more complex factors. This type of erosion is not easily stopped and permanently reshapes coastlines. If your property looks right out onto the ocean, it is imperative that you ask your realtor what the amount of erosion in the area is. It is not necessarily required by all states that the buying party be made aware of any of the risks of eroding shorelines.
The areas most at risk of long-term erosion are inlets. These areas are hard to replace and are many times constantly changing. If you are buying property on or near an inlet, make sure that the coastline is not moving underneath you!
What Can Be Done
Once you find out that your home is threatened by erosion, what can you do? Unfortunately, there are not many good options that you can undertake when trying to deal with erosion. One option could be to install so-called “hard-breaks” that stop erosion and waves from further damaging your property. Hard breaks include sea walls, jetties, breakwaters, and bulkheads. While these will protect your property, they will generally do so at the expense of adjacent properties and are not allowed in most areas. Check your local regulations. Another option that some people may consider is to try to replenish the shoreline by dredging up sand to replace the sand that’s eroded.
Unfortunately, this is incredibly expensive and would have to be done along long stretches of the shoreline, not just around your home to be effective. It is also only a temporary solution and within a few years you could find yourself back in the same situation, but a few dollars poorer.
Beachfront properties are among the most desirable pieces of real estate in the world. However, they have their own unique challenges and dangers associated with them. Make sure that you’re fully aware of all the risks of buying a certain property before you sign any paperwork.