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Sinking Markets - literally

My blog about the influx of students into real estate training in the USA last week must have got my mind onto international property because my thoughts started wandering around the globe last night as I was drifting off to sleep. It landed in Venice for a while and because I was discussing New York yesterday, my mind ultimately ended up there again, and I realized there is an unusual similarity between the two places. Both are sinking, and I don’t mean the property values. I mean literally. 


Of course being in real estate, I started to consider how this affects those who live there and their real estate market. The concept of the sinking of Venice is nothing new - it has long been discussed and addressed by the city. It’s the combination of the weight of the buildings driving the pilings holding up the city into the seabed and the rising of the surrounding water level which has seen many residents actually leave the city. Tourists still flock there, but the population of the city has more than halved in the last 50 years – imagine working in that real estate market! There are still around 60,000 people on the city of islands, which is a lot of people not prepared to up and leave what is still an incredibly beautiful place to live. 


Upstate in New York, residents in the Hamptons are finding themselves in a similar position, but for different reasons. Severe erosion resulting from high winds has meant that beachfront homes in the Hamptons hamlet of Wainscott are slipping into the ocean. As the situation stands now, ocean waters have wiped away so much land that many of the houses sit just feet from a sheer drop where the dunes end and the beach begins. Some properties already sit with foundations exposed. Also similarly to Venice, the issue appears to be an ongoing one and the erosion is predicted to continue. 


Isn’t it amazing how we continue to live in places despite the obviously negative end results of doing so? Not only are places like the Hamptons and Venice gradually finding themselves underwater, but the likes of San Francisco is bracing itself for its next earthquake, an earthquake expected to be larger than the city is prepared for. And yet the residents joke about it and go about their daily lives, knowing disaster is inevitable but not being prepared to leave the city they love. It just goes to show that for many people their place of residence is intrinsically linked to who they are, and that’s one of the reasons I love this business so much. Real estate is about much more than bricks and mortar, it’s actually all about people.  
Posted by Charles Tarbey on 25/03/2009 at 8:26 AM | Categories:


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