Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climate change (or not): impact on foundations of real estate in France. What about U.S.?

Some background: The extent to which the climate is changing is subject to lots of scientific and popular debate. While the scientists and the press fight it out, policy-makers must decide how to move forward. In France, the government put together a number of groups from the ministries of agriculture, health, the environment and ecology, and the prime minister’s office with the mandate to agree on a set of projections to be used by all government agencies for policymaking.

The issue: The document points to some issues already affecting French real estate. Here is one I wanted to highlight: changes in weather pattern are affecting the depth at which clay soils move during the year (contracts when drying and expands with water). The level at which contractions and expansions take place has reached deep enough to affect the foundations of some homes, in particular in the south of France. Today, the reported damage is estimated in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Is anyone aware of any such issue/damage in the U.S.?

François Ortalo-Magné is the Robert E. Wangard Chair of Real Estate at Wisconsin. With expertise in housing, agricultural land markets and policies, and international real estate, he has done extensive research on fluctuations of housing transactions and prices.

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