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Redfin Now Provides Climate-Risk Data for Prospective Home Purchases

The online real estate brokerage site now includes data from ClimateCheck to help home buyers and sellers understand the risk for fire, heat, drought and storms in their area over a 30-year mortgage.

Companies have been awakened to the substantial risks that climate change can pose to their supply chains and even their business models for a while now; and even the insurance industry is coming around to the idea of a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to climate-related disaster preparedness. Now, as much of the Western US continues to burn, a new tool will help inform individual property owners potential environmental risks when buying or selling a home.

Redfin — the technology-powered real estate brokerage — is now publishing climate-risk information for every location listed on its website. Redfin users who want to understand the climate risks for fire, heat, drought and storms over a 30-year period to any area in which they're searching for a home can now see a ClimateCheck rating from 0-100 associated with the county, city, neighborhood and zip code of the home they're considering. Currently, this data is available everywhere in the contiguous US, for over 94 million homes.

"A home is a huge financial investment; and these days consumers are seeing all too many examples of climate-related risks like fires, floods and heatwaves," said Redfin Chief Growth Officer Christian Taubman. "By bringing ClimateCheck's data to every location page on, we're making it easy for consumers to make better-informed decisions about buying, selling and renting."

ClimateCheck's ratings are based on two factors: an area's future risk, and how much that risk will change over time. The company projects future risk for climate-related hazards by using dozens of internationally accepted, global climate models that assume a conservative, worst-case scenario for the continued release of CO2 into the atmosphere. ClimateCheck then personalizes these global models to the local level across the US with a technique called downscaling, which combines global projections with observed local weather patterns. It projects a higher risk for areas expected to experience more dramatic changes — compared to ones already experiencing such hazards — as this reflects the challenges and costs of adjusting to climate change and the increased stress on local infrastructure.

"Consumers can now make smarter decisions when evaluating the risks of climate change," said ClimateCheck Principal Cal Inman. "Redfin is taking the global climate challenge down to the local level, where people are struggling to figure out the consequences of dramatic weather and climate events."

Many US home buyers are already factoring climate change into their decisions about where to live, according to a survey Redfin conducted earlier this year. About half of respondents who plan to move in the next year said extreme temperatures and/or the increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters played a role in their decision to relocate. Another one-third of people said rising sea levels played a role for them. Out of the 2,000 respondents surveyed, nearly 80 percent said that increasing frequency or intensity of natural disasters in an area would dissuade them to buy a home there; roughly three-quarters said they would be hesitant to buy a home in a place with extreme temperatures and/or rising sea levels. More than a third of homeowners surveyed reported spending at least $5,000 fortifying their homes against climate threats.