The vast majority of homebuyers and sellers say they are concerned about climate change, according to a new report from Redfin.
Pointing to an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters, almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) said that climate change “somewhat” factors into their decision about whether and where to buy or sell a home. Only 10% said it doesn’t impact their decision-making process at all.
Houston residents in particular were concerned about climate change. Houston’s Harris County has endured one 500-year rainfall event and two 100-year events since 2016, including Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda.
Almost 60 percent of Houston respondents – more than any of the 29 U.S. and Canadian cities Redfin surveyed – said that an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters “very much” factors into their decision to buy or sell.
“Houston has experienced catastrophic flooding in recent years,” said local Redfin agent Ashley Vasquez. “When I first meet buyers, one of the first things they tell me is that they don’t want to be in a location that floods,” she added, noting that some developers have been renovating and lifting homes several feet off the ground so they’re more resilient.
Despite the growing concern about global warming, it has yet to translate into major changes in prices and/or buying habits, said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.
“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,” Fairweather said. “Environmental changes may be factoring into their thought processes, but not yet into their actions.”
Climate change concerns varied by respondents’ race, income and their age, the study found.
Nearly half of black respondents said that natural disasters “very much” factor into their real estate decisions, as compared to only 32% of white respondents, likely a reflection of the fact that minority groups are disproportionately exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change.
Wealthier respondents – those making more than $200,000 a year – were most likely to be very concerned (42%) about climate change when buying or selling a home, while those making less than $100,000 were most likely to be not at all concerned (9%).
“Natural disasters impact different demographics and income groups in different ways,” Fairweather said. “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.”
Not surprisingly, younger respondents (under age 25) were most likely to be very concerned (42%) with natural disasters, while those 65 and older were the most likely to be not at all concerned (16%).
“Younger people are more likely to still own their homes when the impacts of climate change become more severe,” Fairweather said. “With each generation of homebuyers, it’s going to become an increasingly important issue.”