More than a quarter (27%) of Americans said that recent natural disasters such as fires, floods and storms have made them want to move away from where they currently live, or have changed where they want to move, according to a new report from Redfin (redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage. These findings are based on an October Redfin survey of more than 3,000 U.S. residents.
Meanwhile, half of Americans said that recent natural disasters have had no impact on their feelings about where they live, and almost a quarter (23%) said that such events have made them like where they live more.
Wildfires have ravaged the U.S. this year, burning millions of acres across California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Six of the 20 largest wildfires in California history have taken place in 2020 alone, and two of the state's ongoing blazes—the Silverado Fire and the Blue Ridge Fire—put nearly 100,000 Southern California residents under emergency evacuation orders. The U.S. has also experienced 27 named storms this year, just one away from the annual record set in 2005. The latest to hit was Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday, leaving several people dead and more than 2.1 million without power.
"Climate change still doesn't feel like an immediate threat to a lot of people, but as more folks come face to face with wildfires, hurricanes and floods, we'll see an increase in the number of Americans who consider moving due to natural disasters," said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. "Climate change could also become a bigger factor in the homebuying process if insurance companies stop offering coverage in catastrophe-prone areas."
Homes in high-wildfire-risk zip codes sold for an average of 3.9% less than those in low-risk zip codes in 2020, compared with a 2.5% premium in 2012, according to an October Redfin analysis.
The Northeast Has the Largest Share of People Who Say Natural Disasters Have Changed Where They Want to Live
A third of survey participants in the Northeast said that recent natural disasters have made them want to move away from where they currently live, or have changed where they want to move to. That compares with 28% of respondents in the South, 27% in the West and 23% in the Midwest.
Maryam Amiri, a Redfin real estate agent in Irvine, CA, was forced to evacuate her own home this week due to fires blazing nearby.
"Everyone here is in shock. You always hear about people evacuating because of the wildfires in California, but you never think it will actually happen to you," Amiri said by phone Tuesday. "The attitude right now is that everything will be fine and go back to normal in a few days. I called every single one of my clients who is close to closing a deal on a home, and all of them said they're comfortable with moving forward."