An aerial view of a flooded neighborhood.

Most buyers weigh climate risk when home shopping 

A new survey from Zillow found that more than 80% of homebuyers evaluate climate and environmental risks when considering where to live.

September 6, 2023
2 minutes

Key points:

  • The majority of buyers consider at least one climate risk, such as flooding, wildfires, hurricanes and drought.
  • Younger buyers, particularly millennials, are more likely to be concerned with climate risks than older buyers.
  • Despite the concern, most buyers do not ultimately move to a region with less climate risk.

Financial challenges aren't the only factor weighing on the minds of buyers these days. They're also considering another variable: climate risk. 

According to a new Zillow survey of nearly 12,000 buyers, over 80% indicated that they consider climate risks such as flooding, wildfires, hurricanes and drought when shopping for a home.

Millennial and Gen Z buyers, who make up the majority of today's homebuying demographic, are especially conscious of climate change and the risks presented by it.

"While all generations juggle trade-offs like budget, floor plans and commute times, younger home shoppers are more likely to face another consideration: They want to know if their home will be safe from rising waters, extreme temperatures and wildfires," Zillow senior population scientist Manny Garcia said in the report.

Roughly 86% of prospective millennial homebuyers consider at least one climate risk, compared to 70% of buyers over 59, the report said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the West region — which has suffered from increasingly frequent and intense wildfires — is where buyers are most concerned. A whopping 90% of all prospective buyers considered at least one climate risk when planning to buy in western states. In the Northeast, 85% of buyers considered climate risks, while only 79% of buyers in the South and 77% of those in the Midwest were concerned.

Overall, the risk of flooding was the most common climate-related concern among prospective buyers.

But are these concerns over climate change and its environmental impacts driving actual buying decisions? 

The answer appears to be no. Nearly half of buyers were considering moving to an area with the same climate risks, and more than a quarter were willing to move someplace with more climate risks. Just 23% of buyers were looking at regions with fewer climate risks.

"While climate risk is affecting attitudes, it isn't to the point where majorities of buyers are considering a move to a region they consider less risky," the report concluded.

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