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In Hawaii, not only do we have a responsility to take care of our environment but we have a responsibility to understand the potential risks and consequences of purchasing coastal land. Ahhhh. Hawaii is surely a paradise with its beautiful trade winds, blue sunny skies and panoramic breathtaking scenery. A land so unique that will come with drastic weather and ocean changes that will threaten the coastlines and property.
There will always be some natural hazards that potential purchasers of coastal property (regardless if you are planning on purchasing undeveloped or developed land) need to be aware of:
- Hurricanes and high surf which onsets chronic erosion in the long term. June through November is Hurricane season and storm surges, wind and rain from hurricanes can cause severe damage to properties fronting the ocean as well as low lying areas.
- Tsunamis would create a more devastating destruction in just that one single event that can last for hours. Research the history of the area to see if there is any historical tsunami information on that area. You can also find out where evacuation zones are in the front section of the telephone book.
Both natural hazards described above can create bluff failure and erosion for cliff-front properties as well.
Things to consider when investing in coastal land:
- Is the elevation above sea level and is there potential for flooding?
- Condition of the shoreline (rocky, sandy or cliff) and is it stable or chronically eroding?
- Does configuration of the lot allow for moving the dwellings if it is threatened by a coastal hazard?
- Research the shoreline development history of the property and ask if there were any attempts to control the erosion and if so, was it successful?
- Any applications for shoreline structures and were they denied or accepted and why? Are the existing structures legal?
- Do a coastal hazard assessment and a professional geologist or engineer can do this.
A licensed REALTOR® has a duty to disclose (disclose and disclose) any material facts and any documentation coastal hazard history on the property. Not always are coastal hazard known and buyers are advised to do their due diligence. There is also an Standard Oceanfront Property Addendum that will be drafted by the REALTOR® and submitted with the offer.
The Standard Oceanfront Property Addendum basically has in depth pertinent information documented such as the zoning, special management area, tsunami and hurricane zone and so forth amongst advising that the only way to get the property square footage is to do a State Certified Shoreline Survey. And information regarding the lender and that the lender may require flood insurance as well.
Not only are the natural hazards a biggie in purchasing coastal property but there are other laws that protect the "discovered" burial or worshipping sites of ancient Hawaiians. More can be read here: Purchasing Hawaii Vacant Land? Ancient Hawaiian Burial Sites and Laws
In closing: Disclose, disclose, disclose and do your due diligence!