Home Buyers Consider Climate Risk, Mostly Buy Where They Want Anyway

(Photo by Wes Warren on Unsplash)

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There are plenty of factors to run through when buying a new home in an unfamiliar area: Is it in a good school district? What’s the crime rate? Is it a reasonable commute to work?

Add climate change to the list. Roughly 80% of new home buyers, most of whom are Millennials or Xoomers, consider at least one climate risk while looking for a new home, Zillow reported. “While all generations juggle trade-offs like budget, floor plans and commute times, younger home shoppers are more likely to face another consideration,” said Manny Garcia, Zillow senior population scientist, in a press release. “They want to know if their home will be safe from rising waters, extreme temperatures and wildfires.”

Decisions, Decisions

But just because buyers are considering climate risk doesn’t mean it’s swaying their decision. Not even one-fourth of buyers are looking for a home in an area with fewer climate risks than where they are now, while about half are scoping out cities with similar risks:

  • Arizona’s Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix, has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the US since 2017 despite extreme heat. Earlier this summer, Phoenix experienced a record 31 consecutive days of temperatures exceeding 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to NASA.
  • Florida has experienced a population boom thanks to sunny skies, low tax rates, affordable housing – and air conditioning. But many insurers are pulling out of the state to avoid massive underwritings related to hurricane and flood damages. And the coverage that is available will cost you: Insurify found that Florida homeowners paid an average annual premium of $7,788 in 2022, more than any state.

Leaning on Mom and Dad: Affordability is still the biggest hurdle for new home buyers, which can vary widely depending on the location. In a more moderately priced city like St. Louis, the average time it takes for a person to save up enough money for a down payment on a home is six-and-a-half years, but in a historically expensive locale like San Francisco, that becomes almost two decades. To all those 18-to-35-year-olds still living with their parents: Take your time. You’re going to need it.