The long list of must-haves for homebuyers is growing. From the number of bedrooms to the size of outdoor space, the constant that is usually near the top of the list is: location. The newest requisite that may be influencing the location decision is climate change.

Common questions that people in the market for a new home include: How will climate change affect my new home? And what should I be considering when thinking of climate change when it comes to my home and its maintenance? We’ll take a look at a few things you need to know about climate change when buying a home.  

Climate change and why it matters to this generation of homeowners

It’s no surprise to anyone that watches the news that the number of extreme natural disasters has increased in the last 40 years. There have been more than 300 billion-dollars worth of weather and climate disasters in the US alone. In 2017, three of the most expensive natural disasters occurred: Hurricane Harvey ($96.9 billion), Maria ($69.4 billion), and Irma ($58.2 billion). While that’s an extreme case of what could happen in one year, many homeowners are preparing for how climate change will affect their community, property, and homes. Our extreme weather survey found that 48% of U.S.-based homeowners researched extreme weather events in the area and its implications on home costs before purchasing their homes. 

Whether you are an existing homeowner, building a new home, or are looking to buy a home anytime soon, it is vital to understand how existing and future changes to the environment are likely to impact where you look to settle down and how you plan to maintain your home proactively. Preventing issues before they become big problems will allow you to crush homeownership fully, and incorporating climate-change-conscious decisions into your homeownership strategy can be a game-changer.

Examples of threats that homeowners should consider

While climate change exists globally, with the universal interests being access to clean water, quality food, and unpolluted air, let’s get local. Many residents of the coastal US, i.e., the Southeast, Texas, and the East Coast, have seen an increase in destructive hurricanes, subsequent floods, and high winds. The Midwest, Texas, and Mississippi are experiencing an elevated risk of tornadoes and more extreme winter storms. And the Southwest and California’s wildfire season has been starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before.  

Where are homeowners the most concerned about climate change

If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, environmental conditions and their effects may be among your top concerns. The impact of climate change on the structure and interior of the home is all affected by weather changes and temperature fluctuations. You may want to consider working with your listing agent and/or a licensed home inspector on assessing the home for damage due to climate change. An opinion by a trained and experienced professional can help you make an educated decision.   

A competitive edge in the housing market may be the disclosure of a community’s Climate Action Plan. Current homeowners, as well as people on the market, are likely interested in knowing how local municipalities are taking action on climate change in their communities.

What are Climate Action Plans?

Climate Action Plans (CAP) are state and city strategic environmental roadmaps. These comprehensive action plans contain details on carbon emission target goals and how each area plans to implement changes. 34 states currently have a CAP. They factor in each state’s government structure, economy, and other resources that will allow them to address climate change. A good indicator of how communities address climate change will be found in the CAP.

Proactivity and how to know how a disaster will affect your neighborhood

Maybe climate change wasn’t on the top of your must-have list when you purchased your home, but the great news is that it is never too late to address climate issues in your home. A smart first step is to do your research on your home’s probability of being affected by climate change. Keep reading for a few tools that can help you determine and decide the next best steps for your home and property.   

The Environmental Protection Agency created a Climate Resilience Screening Index (CRSI). The CRSI gives a resilience rating for each U.S. county. You can see how climate events impact each county on the color-coded map. The higher the rating, then the less exposure to climate disruptions. This also means the county is more likely to recover more quickly.

Another useful resource is The National Risk Index by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The online map shows U.S. communities most at risk for 18 natural hazards, like tornadoes, earthquakes, hail, lightning, and wildfire. FEMA also compares counties for National Disaster Risk.

Remember to take your research to a local level. Try chatting with neighbors, your home insurance professionals, and even your nearest fire department for any and all relevant details on how to best prepare your home’s maintenance routine, utilizing all available methods to be proactive about potential disasters in your neighborhood.  

Tips for the homeowner seriously considering climate change 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re house hunting and climate change is one of your top concerns.

  1. Location, location, location

The area where you want to buy a home makes a huge difference. Your region may be a prime area for certain weather events.  

  1. Check your preferred real estate website 

Popular real estate listing websites like Redfin and offer flood and fire risk information on properties.

  1. Talk to your real estate agent 

Your real estate agent should be your go-to person. They are a good resource for information on fire, flood, tornado, and other risks in the community.

  1. Ask the seller

The seller or listing agent can provide details on previous damage. Please note: Research your local government’s rules to determine if they are required to disclose this information or how you can officially request it. 

  1. Opt for a home inspection

Your home inspector can check for previous damage done to the home as well as what likely caused it. Be sure to get a written report and use a recommended professional. 

  1. Find out if your city has a CAP

Take a look at the city’s and/or state’s climate action plan, how the specific neighborhood may be affected, and plans for the future.

  1. Get a homeowner’s insurance estimate prior to buying

The estimate will give you insight into the potential climate risk and if it may cost you more money than you originally budgeted for. 

How to check for climate-related damage and what it means

If you’re worried your home has already sustained climate-related damage, don’t fear. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:

  • Experiencing unexplainable drafts. Ensuring your home is effectively insulated, including sealing any drafty doors or windows, will not only establish your home as much more energy-efficient but will also prevent any damage that can be done by the outside weather
  • Take a look at the interior walls and ceilings. Are there cracks in your interior walls and ceiling? Do the doors close completely? These may be a sign of foundation problems. It’s often caused by too much water, not enough water or even drought 
  • Water in the basement. This is the one area that can have obvious signs. Look at the baseboards or the walls to see if there are stains. That may be a sign that the basement floods often or that there was a previous flood 
  • Check the exterior. Extreme heat can cause major damage, foundations may sink, chipped paint, or cracked wood siding 
  • Inspect the roof. Often, storms, tornadoes, or hurricanes will cause damage to the roof. Look for missing shingles or repeated damage from tree branches   

What does this mean for my home insurance

Climate change brings up a lot of questions as it relates to your home’s insurance. New, ever-changing weather threats are a great reason to review your existing coverage, and you may also want to take it a step further and speak to your home insurer to get their professional opinion on assessing the future risk of your home. It’s more important than ever to have a modern home insurance company, one that understands your needs and those of your home.  

Whether shopping for a new home or if you are already in the home of your dreams and climate readiness is a significant issue to you, then be sure to choose a home insurance company that’s ready to help you. Hippo knows your journey doesn’t have to be a solo one. As a member of the Hippo family, you can get in touch with our customer support agents 24/7. Any homeowner can also take advantage of our our Hippo Home services to help double down on their home’s climate-change readiness.

Not yet a Hippo customer? Give us a call, or get an instant 60-second quote to see what modern insurance can do for you.


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