Pandemic boom drives up sales for vacations homes with high natural disaster risk

They are at risk of flood, storm, and/or heat surges, says Redfin

Pandemic boom drives up sales for vacations homes with high natural disaster risk

Purchases of second homes with high natural disaster risk have risen significantly over the past two years, according to a new report from Redfin, as the pandemic’s low mortgage rates and remote work orders drove demand for vacation properties.

In 2020 and 2021, purchases of second homes with high flood risk rose 45% from the previous two years. Similarly, homes with high storm risk were purchased 40% more than in 2018 and 2019, while purchases for homes with high heat risk went up 39%.

This, according to Redfin, shows that many Americans own second homes that are vulnerable to natural disasters.

“The threat of climate change isn’t the top concern for a lot of homebuyers, which means they often prioritize factors like warm weather and proximity to the beach over avoiding natural-disaster risk,” said Sheharyar Bokhari, a senior economist at Redfin. “Second-home owners, in particular, have another place to live if disaster strikes—another reason climate danger may not feel like a pressing issue. But house hunters should be aware that purchasing in a disaster-prone area not only puts them and their home at risk, but their finances as well. Home values in climate-endangered places may fall in the coming years as consumers learn more about the risks to properties in these areas.”

Redfin’s ClimateCheck data revealed that heat and storm are the two most common risks faced by pandemic second-home buyers, seeing as these risks are common in popular destinations like Florida and Arizona.

According to Redfin, 94% of the second homes bought in the last two years are at risk of high heat, while 78% are vulnerable to storms. Moreover, 26% of these homes face high flood risk, 23% face high fire risk, and 21% face high drought risk.

“House hunters from out of town ask about climate change because they’re very concerned about flooding, but most of them don’t change their minds,” said Cristina Llanos, a Redfin agent in Miami. “They hear horror stories of hurricanes, but generally still move forward. People want to talk about it, but it typically doesn’t make or break their decision.”