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Redfin Survey: 1 in 10 Say Climate Risk is Main Reason For Move

One in 10 homebuyers and sellers say climate-related risks—hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels—are the primary reason for their move, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. Thirty-nine percent say these risks are contributing factors for their move.

“As natural disasters become more unavoidable, climate change is top of mind for homeowners in a way it wasn’t 10 years ago or even two years ago,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “Moving to homes in neighborhoods with lower risk and away from places with higher risk is a trend that will pick up speed in the next decade as people feel the impact of disasters like fires, floods and extreme heat both financially and emotionally. It’s expensive to protect your home or to fix water or fire damage, and many homeowners in high-risk areas like parts of California and coastal Texas are exhausted from worrying about the next wildfire or hurricane.”

Natural disasters and other weather-related events like extreme heat and cold have steadily increased over the last several decades, and 2021 was no exception. The national focus on climate change and natural disasters has made it difficult for many homebuyers and homeowners to ignore the risks associated with certain areas.

Still, affordability can outweigh climate risks for people who are relocating. U.S. counties that are prone to natural disasters gained residents from 2016 to 2020, while counties with relatively low risk lost residents, according to an August Redfin analysis. That’s in part because many places with high climate risk are relatively affordable, with lower property taxes and more housing options.

Move-up homebuyers are more likely to factor in climate risks

When the responses are divided between first-time homebuyers (people who are only buying a home) and move-up buyers (people who are selling a home and buying a new one), move-up buyers are twice as likely to cite climate risks as the primary reason for their move.

“It only takes one flooded basement or leaky roof for a homeowner to realize they never want to deal with that again,” Fairweather said. “People don’t realize how costly it is to maintain a home, especially one that’s located in an area prone to natural disasters, until they experience it for themselves. Homeowners are more likely to factor those high costs into their moving decisions. First-time buyers should look out for costly projects like leaky roofs before purchasing a home, and they should also look for climate-friendly improvements that will provide a good return on investment, like swapping out grass for drought-tolerant landscaping.”

More than half of homebuyers and sellers have spent at least $1,000 to protect their home against natural disasters

Fifty-two percent of respondents have invested money to make their home more resilient to climate risks and natural disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, rising sea levels, extreme temperatures, wildfires, droughts and/or earthquakes.

Seventeen percent of respondents have invested between $5,000 and $10,000 to protect their homes, and another 16% have invested between $10,000 and $20,000.

Local governments are also grappling with rising expenses due to climate change, Fairweather said. “As more homes get damaged by natural disasters, it’s becoming increasingly important for municipalities to invest in protecting against climate change,” she said. “Cities will need to reevaluate their zoning guidelines and build more housing in non-disaster-prone areas.”

To read the full report, including charts, please visit: https://www.redfin.com/news/homebuyer-survey-climate-change

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