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RealtyTrac: 35.8 million single family homes face natural disaster risk

By Mike Wheatley | September 3, 2015

With East Coast residents bracing themselves for the hurricane season, and the Northwest battling against raging forest fires, RealtyTrac has announced the timely release of its second annual U.S. Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report that takes a look at the possible impact of five natural disaster types that may impact on U.S. housing.


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RealtyTrac’s report, which covers hurricane, wildfire, flooding, tornado and earthquake risks in 2,318 U.S. counties, found that an astonishing 35.8 million single family homes are facing a “high or very high” natural hazard risk. It's a figure that represents some 43 percent of the total 83.4 million homes RealtyTrac analyzed in its report.

RealtyTrac assigned a score (Very High, High, Moderate, Low and Very Low) for each type of natural disaster to each county it surveyed in the report, as well as a score for “overall natural disaster risk”. Regarding states, the report found that California was the biggest potential disaster area, with 8.4 million homes facing a high or very high risk, mostly due to the threat of earthquakes and wildfires. Florida, which is bracing itself for the hurricane season, came in second with 6.7 million homes facing a high risk, followed by New York (2.4 million home), New Jersey and North Carolina (2.3 million homes each). As for Metropolitan areas, New York City came in first with 3.5 million homes at risk, followed by Los Angeles with 2.5 million, Miami with 1.9 million, Houston with 1.2 million and Riverside-San Bernardino in Southern California with 1.1 million.

“In the interest of personal safety and protecting the value of what is likely their biggest financial asset, prospective buyers and investors should be aware of any natural disaster risk impacting a potential home purchase,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “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.”

“In most cases learning about natural disaster risk will not stop a home sale, but it will help buyers make a better-informed decision about where to buy and also be prepared in terms of appropriate insurance coverage and family contingency plans depending on the type of natural disaster risks most affecting the home they end up purchasing,” Blomquist added.

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Blomqvist's assessment was in line with the thoughts of Mark Hughes, chief operating officer with First Team Real Estate, which covers the Southern California market. According to him, realtors have a duty to convey these risks to prospective buyers who're considering purchasing a home in the state.

“Our agents must be articulate in explaining the higher risks to buyers,” Hughes said. “People have to be able trust their agent to fully disclose the risks of natural disasters and homeownership to allow buyers to make the most informed decisions. A well-informed knowledgeable buyer is best prepared to take on the potential risks associated with SoCal homeownership.”

For more details, view RealtyTrac's U.S. Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report in full here.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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