Two-thirds of buyers and sellers impacted by disaster risks, climate change

More than 60% of Americans who plan on buying or selling a home in the next year are hesitant to move to an area with environmental or climate risks, according to a new report from Redfin.

Sixty-two percent of respondents to an August survey from the national real estate brokerage expressed reluctance to relocate somewhere at risk of natural disasters, extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels. Moreover, sixty-six percent of respondents indicated that climate change has impacted their home search in at least one way, with 17% saying it has limited their search to homes that include certain features and an equal percentage responding that it has affected their homebuying budget.

Fifteen percent of buyers and sellers said that climate change caused them to search in a different part of their area.

“One of the main questions I get from buyers is, ‘Where can I move that’s close to the beach but not in a flood zone?’” said Isabel Arias-Squires, a Redfin real estate agent in Fort Myers, Florida — one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ian.

Unfortunately, Arias-Squires said, the answer to that common question from buyers doesn’t really exist.

“If you’re not in a flood zone this year, you may be in a couple of years from now,” she said. “This is Florida — hurricanes and flooding come with the territory. Homebuyers should always purchase flood insurance and invest in impact windows if they can.”

Arias-Squires mentioned one buyer she was working with who was under contract to buy a second home in Florida sight unseen. After the hurricane, the buyer wanted to back out because of minor damage to the property, only to change their mind because they didn’t want to lose their escrow deposit and realized that the house could be used as a rental property.

“Demand for rentals is surging because so many people were displaced by the storm and need a place to live,” she said. “There’s one home in Cape Coral that’s asking $7,500 a month, which is almost unheard of. My out-of-state buyer plans to rent their new home out for six months and then make it their second home. They’ve still never seen it in person.”


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