Experts say climate change should be considered when home shopping

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Experts spoke at a South by Southwest Wednesday morning about the importance of considering how an area’s climate might change when choosing a new home.

On Wednesday, Realtor.com unveiled three new climate risk factors on its website so consumers can see how the area they’re interested in living in may look in the future. Users can now assess flood, heat, wind, air quality and wildfire risk when checking out a new property.

“We’re really trying to paint a comprehensive picture of what consumers need to know when they’re shopping for a home,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com. “Half of homeowners tell us they are more concerned about climate risks than they were five years ago. So it is something that a growing share of people are raising as a risk factor.”

Hale spoke alongside University of Texas at Austin Professor in geosciences Jay Banner, who said climate change will increasingly influence where people live, work and play.

“There are so many ways that climate change impacts our lives, so many sectors of society, and it’s only going to get more and more intense,” said Banner, who is also the director of the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.”

Banner said increasingly and, especially in Texas, people will likely choose to spend more time in their homes to beat extreme temperatures.

“Looking at these warmer temperatures –  these drier conditions – it’ll be a different kind of place that we’ll be living in. And your home will become, in some ways, more important. It’s going to be your refuge,” he said.

But it’s not all “doom and gloom,” Banner said. There are still climate-conscious choices consumers can take, like utilizing reusable energy and decreasing the amount of impervious cover on a property, that might be mitigating.

“Because if you have a lot of impervious cover, that’s going to exacerbate what’s known as the urban heat island effect that will make things warmer,” he said. “There’s the global climate change that’s going to influence Texas, but then where you live locally, there’ll be a local influence on the climate.”

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