News

43% of U.S. homes at risk for natural disasters

2015-09-03

IRVINE, Calif. – Sept. 3, 2015 — RealtyTrac released its 2015 U.S. Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report, and it found that 35.8 million U.S. single family homes and condos have a "high" or "very high" natural hazard risk – 43 percent of the 83.4 million single family homes and condos analyzed for the report.

To calculate a natural-disaster risk level, RealtyTrac assigned a score to 2,318 U.S. counties and assigned one of five risk categories for overall risk of natural disaster: very high, high, moderate, low and very low. It used similar scoring and ranking to rate the risk for five separate types of natural disasters.

"There is no reason homebuyers need to be surprised with natural disaster risk information when wading through a stack of disclosures at the closing table given the widespread availability of this data online and even through mobile apps," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Florida's overall disaster risk

Florida ranked second for the total number of homes (6.7 million) in the high risk or very high risk category. California (8.4 million) ranked first with Florida followed by New York (2.4 million), New Jersey (2.3 million) and North Carolina (2.3 million).

Only one Sunshine State city made the metro top five: Miami came in at No. 3 with 1.9 million homes at risk. New York (3.5 million) led the list followed by Los Angeles (2.5 million); Houston (1.2 million) and Riverside-San Bernardino (1.1 million), California, rounded out the top five.

Overall, most Florida counties ranked in RealtyTrac's "very high risk" category, with only a few Central Florida counties in "high risk." However, South Florida appears to have a hurricane dividing line about halfway through: While Miami-Dade County is considered "very high risk," Broward and Palm Beach counties are merely "high risk."

"The allure of South Florida's sun and surf, for most, outweigh any concern of a hurricane threat," says Mike Pappas, CEO and president of the Keyes Company in South Florida. "History has shown that we are not only able to survive but in fact thrive with insurance and property improvements after a storm hits."

color-coded U.S. map of the county-by-county disaster risk is posted on RealtyTrac's website.

Hurricanes

According to the RealtyTrac study, 1 in 3 U.S. homes faces a hurricane risk: 24.5 million single family homes and condos (29 percent of the 83.4 million total) are in counties at high risk or very high risk from hurricanes.

Florida leads the hurricane-threat group with 6.7 million homes, followed by North Carolina (2.4 million), Virginia (2.0 million), New York (1.9 million) and New Jersey (1.8 million).

Metro areas with the most homes in high risk or very high risk counties for hurricanes are New York (3.0 million), Miami (1.9 million), Washington, D.C. (1.8 million), Boston (1.1 million) and Tampa (953,000).

Wildfires

While hurricanes go hand-in-hand with Florida, the RealtyTrac study found that the state ranked third nationwide for the threat from wildfires. While no city made the top five, Florida ranked third for the number of homes at risk (1.6 million). California (1.9 million) and New York (1.6 million) topped the list, while North Carolina (1.1 million), and New Jersey (1.1 million) rounded out the bottom.

Overall, the report found that 1 in 10 U.S. counties have a high risk or very high risk from wildfires.

Home values in high-risk areas

In general, counties at high risk from a natural disaster also have higher home values: Homes in very high risk counties had an average estimated market value of $170,237, while homes in high risk counties had an average estimated market value of $191,244.

In very low risk counties it was $151,793; in low risk counties it was $154,464.

In addition to higher overall values, home price appreciation in high-risk counties outpaced lower-risk counties for the past three years. In those with a high risk for any kind of natural disaster, prices increased 16.6 percent between 2012 and 2015 on average. In counties with a very high risk, it increased 20.4 percent. In low and very low risk counties, the increase was 10.1 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

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

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