And it’s not going to get any better.
That said, there are ways we can educate ourselves about how climate change may affect homeowners, their future ability to sell, and homebuyers’ ability and desire to buy certain homes. Humans seem to not care about anything until it’s in their backyards; climate change will affect way more than our backyards.
There’s an interesting new tool, ClimateCheck.
Type your address into the ClimateCheck website, and you’ll instantly see a snapshot of your home’s climate risk across five areas: storms, temperature, drought, fire, and flood. Though you can’t quite outrun climate change physically—eventually all of the places in the U.S., and the world, will be impacted in some way—knowing these risks can let homeowners know what they have to do to make their homes more resilient, and can help people understand what to expect when they’re looking to buy a house.
This sort of risk data has long been limited to institutions like banks and insurers, says Skylar Olsen, ClimateCheck’s principal economist. “ClimateCheck is targeting every day consumers, so mom and pop investors but also homebuyers and sellers, to resolve that information asymmetry,” she says.
Each of the five risks are rated between zero to 100, based on climate models from agencies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, FEMA, the U.S. Forest Service, and others. Academic experts then localize that data to make it relevant for a specific region. The site explains what you usually experience in a year for that category: how much land within a certain mile radius usually burns around your home’s location, or how many significant storms you see a year, and how much precipitation those storms usually drop.
Do buyers care?
- I think they should.
- “Survey of 500 home buyers: 94 percent said they would use it in their home search“
What’s a Seller to do?
Honestly, I have no idea. Be aware of the risk, and that climate change is going to impact value and resale. And that more buyers are likely to use the Homeowners Insurance Addendum when making offers (it’s a protection for both parties, but fewer Realtors use it than I think should; note that this story is from 11 years ago).
Do your due diligence when evaluating houses and areas. If an area is low lying and close to a flood plain, take that into consideration. I’m no scientist, but I’d be surprised if the flood plain were to shrink. (although I did recently see a property that was removed from a flood plain map somehow).
This feels sort of the way I felt years ago when I was advocating for actual septic inspections for my buyers. I had a bit of a battle with another agent and the sellers’ attorney because my clients listened to my advice and wanted to open the septic tank and distribution box for their own inspection. The attorney said that that type of inspection was not a “usual and customary inspection” and despite the open-ended inspection clause, the sellers were right in not allowing us.
They ultimately did, my clients replaced the sod appropriately, and proceeded to buy that home. They are still there.
We’re at the turn of a market in that climate change is going to be a major factor in home buyers’ evaluative processes. That’s fine, because climate change isn’t going to go away, so we might as well adapt to the new processes. We’ve adapted to COVID showing protocols, and we will adapt to this as well.
Don’t believe me? Do you believe the US Military or insurance companies?
- The U.S. military is terrified of climate change. It’s done more damage than Iranian missiles.
- “All hell breaking loose”: How the Pentagon is planning for climate change
- Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army
- How insurance companies can prepare for risk from climate change
- As Climate Impacts Worsen, Homeowners Struggle to Find Affordable Insurance
- Homes Are Becoming Harder To Insure Thanks To Climate Change
- Pandemics Now Trump Climate Change as Top Insurance Industry Worry
Seriously. Read some of those stories. This isn’t a debate or an argument; these are the facts our markets
are going to have to deal with.