Extreme Weather Will Change How We Buy Homes

Extreme Weather Will Change How We Buy Homes

As wildfires, hurricanes, and other climate-related disasters become more common, Americans are taking the long-term effects of climate change into greater consideration when purchasing homes. But a lack of information on climate risks attached to properties, plus uneven laws that allow sellers in some states to avoid disclosing vulnerabilities, have made it challenging for buyers to know what they are getting.

Yale Climate Connections: Coming soon to at-risk homes: Property insurance 'sticker shock,' October 6, 2021.

Why This Matters

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that in the next 30 years, sea levels along the nation’s coast will rise an average of one foot, threatening coastlines and increasing the incidence of severe hurricanes. For homeowners in vulnerable areas, sea level rise may depreciate property values or worse, damage the home itself. Despite the high stakes, only a handful of states, including Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, require sellers to disclose flood risk to potential buyers.

Coastal properties aren’t the only ones at risk. The UN predicts wildfires will be 30% more frequent by 2050, have already impacted home values in vulnerable areas. Researchers at Redfin discovered that homes located in areas of California and the Pacific Northwest prone to wildfires sold for almost 4% less than those located in places that aren’t.

Forbes: Climate Change Could Drive Wildfire Risk Up 50% By End Of Century, UN Warns, February 23, 2022.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

Protecting Those Homes

Home values are only the tip of the iceberg. The cost of related insurance premiums could skyrocket. So what can homeowners do to protect themselves? Insurance analyst Brian O’Connell tells the Washington Post, "Buyers should do their due diligence and check insurance premiums ahead of time for different areas, so they understand what they’re getting into if they choose to buy near water, for example.”

Other costs for homeowners and buyers to consider are retrofits to withstand climate change, such as insulation for more severe winter storms and air conditioning for hotter summers.

BBC: Past seven years hottest on record, EU satellite data shows, January 10, 2022.

Guardian: Climate change is making floods worse - here's how, October 19, 2021.