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Study: High Flood-Risk Homes Sell for $50K More than Low-Risk Ones

By Kerry Smith

Buyers care about a home’s flood risk more than they once did, but it doesn’t override the appeal of a beachfront or lakefront view. According to a study, high flood-risk homes sold for a record 13.6% premium in 2021’s first quarter, up from 1Q 2020’s 10.1% and 1Q 2019’s 7.2%.

SEATTLE – A study of flood-risk and home values suggests that concerns over climate change haven’t affected the value of property that’s located in a high-risk flood zone. It appears to be true even though consumers have greater access to flooding information via online listing advertising websites.

In the first quarter of 2021, the median sale price of homes with high flood risk was $402,010, compared with $353,783 for homes with low flood risk, according to a new report from Redfin. That means high-risk homes sold for a record 13.6% premium – up from a premium of 10.1% in the first quarter of 2020 and up from a premium of 7.2% in the first quarter of 2019.

Since 2013, homes with a high flood risk have sold, on average, for about 7% more than homes with low flood risk, likely because many of them are luxury waterfront properties. That premium surged during the coronavirus pandemic when many wealthy homebuyers started eyeing oceanfront or lakefront houses outside of major cities.

“Americans are buying the beach houses they always dreamed of because they have the flexibility to work from wherever they want,” says Redfin Senior Economist Sheharyar Bokhari. “While flood risk is intensifying in many parts of the country, it doesn’t seem to be a deal breaker for a lot of homebuyers. This may be because buyers aren’t aware they’re purchasing a home in a flood plain or just don’t view it as an immediate danger. Places with high flood risk are also often home to large concentrations of retirees, many of whom don’t see climate change as a threat they need to worry about in their lifetime. Florida is one example.”

Redfin and other real estate websites have started sharing property-level flood risk data online to help house hunters determine if the homes they’re interested in are located in flood plains and whether they should purchase flood insurance.

Places prone to flooding are also seeing stronger growth in home sales. Sales of high-flood-risk homes rose 18.6% year over year in the first quarter – about double the 9.6% gain in sales of low-flood-risk homes.

In Jacksonville, homebuyers often inquire about flood risk, but it virtually never causes them to back out, says local Redfin real estate agent Heather Kruayai. Jacksonville has two waterways running through it, and about 43,000 properties have a high flood risk, according to First Street Foundation’s Flood Factor.

“If you buy a home on the water in Florida, flooding is just something that comes with the territory. Most buyers understand that,” Kruayai says. “A lot of out-of-state buyers have been moving here during the pandemic and purchasing waterfront properties, but there are also locals looking for space to spread out because the city has become so congested.”

Kruayai says that flood risk isn’t even a strong negotiating factor if buyers hope to snag a lower price. “Even if you wanted to … you’d have a tough time because we’re in such a hot seller’s market.”

Low-risk flood-zone homes do have one price advantage, however. Prices have gone up for all homes regardless of flood risk, but homes in low-risk zones are more likely to finalize a price higher than the owner’s asking price.

In the first quarter of 2021, 47.2% of low-flood-risk homes sold for more than their list price, compared with 37.4% of high-flood-risk homes. That 9.8-percentage-point gap is the largest on records dating back to 2013.

Overall, properties with low flood risk typically cost less than properties with high risk because they’re less likely to be on the beach or have any kind of waterfront view, Bokhari explained. Because low-risk properties are more affordable, they also face more competition, which means buyers are more likely to bid up the prices.

©Florida Realtors® 
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.

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Allen Thompson

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