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- October 1, 2014: Vol. 8, Number 9

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Climate change at land’s end: Real estate investors like targeting coastal cities, but so does a seething Mother Nature

by Suzanne Franks

For centuries, coastal cities have been vibrant centres of economic growth. And this vibrancy has always been a magnet for capital, with real estate investors consistently gravitating toward markets on the water. But more recently, growing awareness about the wrath of Mother Nature — increasingly damaging hurricanes, flooding rivers and sinking land masses — is beginning to cause concern.

The apprehension is transcontinental. In the United States, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington DC are the usual suspects. London, Milan and Paris are European favourites. In Asia, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo routinely attract investment capital. Yet, every one of these cities is at risk of damage from storms and flooding.

As a result, investors are facing new questions. What can be done to protect existing properties? Is it possible for new development to be “flood proofed”? How will real estate assets be insured and financed in the face of

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