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US Real Estate And The Climate Crisis


Which US housing markets will be most affected by the Climate Crisis? And which metros will end up becoming “climate sanctuaries”?

The climate crisis is here. The last few months have seen high intensity snowstorms, floods, hurricanes and extreme heat across vast swathes of the US.

As such events become more common, they will start playing a major role in the US housing market. So we asked ourselves two questions:

  1. Which US housing markets will face the worst effects of climate change?
  2. Which metros will end up becoming climate sanctuaries – less-affected areas that could see inbound migration and economic growth?

We used ProPublica’s excellent Climate Migration data, which maps future climate risk for each US county. Each county gets a rating from 1-10 (low-high) for different climate threats. We mapped each threat, under the “extreme warming” scenario.

Extreme Heat

Texas, Arizona, California and Florida are among the states where citizens might have to face extreme temperatures on a regular basis. ProPublica predict that Arizona’s Maricopa County could face temperatures upwards of 95 degrees for half the year!

Climate threat: extreme heat.

Wet Bulb

Wet bulb temperatures are a terrifying combination of heat and high humidity. At high wet bulb temperatures, the human body can lose the ability to cool itself by sweating. Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri are among the states where this threat is the highest.

Climate threat: wet bulb temperatures.

Rising Sea Levels

30% of the US population lives in coastal areas. High tides will submerge more and more property in these areas over the next few decades. Miami and NYC will face this threat, as will the states of California, Louisiana, and Washington.

Climate threat: sea level rise.

Large Wildfires

Wildfires are just a Californian thing, right?

Wrong. Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Arizona are also at high risk.

Climate threat: large wildfires.

Economic Damage

The Climate Crisis will lead to serious economic damage in coming years. The South could be particularly affected – Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Georgia may end up facing serious economic consequences.

Climate threat: economic damage.

Climate Sanctuaries

Let’s be clear. Climate change will affect all of humanity. But some areas will be less affected than others. And such areas could see large scale migration and economic growth. Which US metros could end up becoming climate sanctuaries? We used a combination of 3 factors to arrive at our list:

  1. A score of 4 or less in each of the 5 climate threats
  2. A population of at least 500,000 (indicating popularity)
  3. High home price growth for the last 15 years (indicating desirability)

We arrived at a final list of 12 metro areas:

  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
  • Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI
  • Akron, OH
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  • Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  • Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA
  • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

New York, Michigan, Washington and Colorado had multiple entries.

Apart from Denver and Colorado Springs, most of the metros are located in the northern regions. That’s where we might see significant inbound migration.

Climate sanctuaries.

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Sid Samant

Sid loves building models at the intersection of economics and data analytics to help you buy your dream home. He fell in love with data science after working with big data in telecommunications. He has an MBA from NMIMS University and reads voraciously in his spare time. He is a long-suffering supporter of Arsenal Football Club. He also believes that The Wire is a better show than both The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.

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