• Farah Al Jallad

Redfin Offers a Climate Reality Check for Homebuyers

Climate change is making sustaining a good quality of life a gamble. Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and severity, and weather patterns are becoming less predictable. This heightened atmosphere of risk will increasingly impact home buying, and it’s something that real estate brokerage firm Redfin is addressing in a new partnership with ClimateCheck.



flooded homes during Hurricane Harvey
Texas homes submerged from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Credit:Shutterstock/MDay Photography

Climate change is becoming an important factor when assessing whether to buy a home in a specific area. It’s a valid concern considering that in 2015, financial losses from natural disasters equaled $92 billion in the U.S.

With homes in danger of being engulfed by wildfires, destroyed by hurricanes or damaged beyond feasible repair by floods, sea-level rise and mudslides, it’s reasonable for people to take precautions before committing to buying a house. Redfin, a real estate brokerage, has partnered with ClimateCheck to offer an online platform that provides a climate risk assessment associated with a particular address. ClimateCheck rates the risk of an area depending on how vulnerable it will be in the future.

ClimateCheck’s methodology for its overall risk assessment states,” Projections for climate-related hazards use dozens of internationally accepted global climate models that assume a conservative, worst-case scenario for the continued release of CO2 into the atmosphere, referred to as the RCP 8.5 emission scenario.” While the methodology is unsurprising, it’s important to note that relying on a “conservative worst-case scenario” means that if climate change impacts amplify faster than expected under a business-as-usual emissions forecast, the risk assessments may fail to account for the severity of increasing disaster risks for a given property.

"A home is a huge financial investment, and these days consumers are seeing all too many examples of climate-related risks like fires, floods and heatwaves," said Christian Taubman, Redfin Chief Growth Officer. "By bringing ClimateCheck's data to every location page on Redfin.com, we're making it easy for consumers to make better-informed decisions about buying, selling and renting."

Many communities are already witnessing and being affected by temperature rise. There’s been a noticeable increase in droughts and floods across the U.S. and many other countries. Scientists expect these natural disasters to worsen as temperatures continue to rise.


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According to an ongoing temperature analysis run by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Earth’s average global temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Celsius in 2020. However, some scientists estimate a higher increase. As we’ve seen through the Little Ice Age, dropping even 1 to 2 degrees can have drastic effects. For example, a 5-degree drop that occurred 20,000 years ago was impactful enough to cover the entirety of North America under a block of ice. Therefore, it's essential to start taking precautions sooner rather than later, as we may see an exponential rise in climate-related disasters.

Climate change could become the top factor in decisions about where people choose to live. A survey organized by Redfin revealed that roughly 80% out of the 2,000 surveyed would be hesitant to buy a home in an area where natural disasters are more prominent.

"Consumers can now make smarter decisions when evaluating the risks of climate change," said Cal Inman, ClimateCheck Principal. "Redfin is taking the global climate challenge down to the local level where people are struggling to figure out the consequences of dramatic weather and climate events."

While there will always be some uncertainty about the safest place to own a home in this day and age, it’s helpful to see the amount of risk there is in a specific area. At the very least, it will provide beneficial information to help homeowners choose the right home insurance based on the particular risk profile for a given area.


 

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