Natural Disasters Are Weighing on Buyers, Sellers, Study Says

February 27, 2020

An uptick in natural disasters—fires, floods, storms, and more—is a growing concern among the majority of home buyers and sellers, shows a new survey conducted by Redfin of 3,000 U.S. and Canadian residents who bought or sold a home last year.

Nearly three-quarters—or 73%--of survey respondents said that an increase in the frequency or intensity of natural disasters is at least “somewhat” factoring into their decision about where and whether to buy or sell a home, the survey found. Only 10% of respondents said it did not affect their decision at all.

Of the 29 metros tracked, Houston residents were the most concerned. Nearly 60% of respondents there said that an increase in the frequency or intensity of natural disaster “very much” factors into their decision to buy or sell a home. New York City followed at 47% and Miami was third at 46%. Houston has faced one 500-year rainfall event and two 100-year events since 2016. It saw catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Tropical Storm Imelda this past September.

South and Northeast respondents, at 36% and 35% respectively, said that natural disasters seriously impact their real estate decisions. Midwest respondents had the lowest concern about the impact.

climate change chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

© Redfin

Concerns about climate change on real estate were most pronounced among minority buyers and sellers. Nearly half of African American respondents said natural disasters “very much” factor into their real estate decisions, compared to only 32% of white respondents. Concerns about climate change were also more prominent among wealthier respondents. Those who make more than $200,000 per year were more likely to be “very” concerned about climate change (42%) compared to those who make less than $100,000 (34%).

“Natural disasters impact different demographics and income groups in different ways,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “On the one hand, you have more affordable homes in areas that have been continuously hit by natural disasters, and then you have more expensive areas, such as beachfront properties, that also have to grapple with climate change.”

Still, while buyers and sellers are aware of the risks of natural disasters, it hasn’t truly had a major change in buying habits or prices, Fairweather adds. “Climate change is important to house hunters, but when it actually comes time to decide where to buy a home, it’s outweighed by other factors that feel more immediate, like affordability and access to jobs,” she says. “Environmental changes may be factoring into their thought processes, but not yet into their actions.”