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Homes in U.S. areas with low wildfire risk increased 101%

Christian Fernsby ▼ | October 19, 2020
The median sale price of homes in zip codes with a low wildfire risk has increased 101% since 2012, compared with an 88% increase for homes in high-wildfire-risk zip codes, according to Redfin.
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Wildfire   U.S. home
This disparity exacerbates the affordability crisis in low-risk areas, forcing homebuyers who don't have large budgets to look to more fire-prone regions for affordable homes.

Topics: U.S.

Redfin's analysis is based on its own housing market data and U.S. Forest Service data across 2,700 zip codes in California, Oregon and Washington.

Over the 12 months ending August 2020, homes in high-wildfire-risk zip codes sold for an average of 3.9% less than those in low-risk zip codes—$640,000 compared to $656,000.

This is a reversal from eight years earlier.

In 2012, homes in high-risk areas sold for an average 2.5% more than in low-risk areas.

Home prices in high-risk areas first dipped below prices in low-risk areas in 2015 three years before the Camp Fire became the most destructive wildfire in California history, destroying over 18,000 structures and killing 85 people.

Double-digit price growth in already expensive West Coast cities has likely driven homebuyers to look in more affordable, but fire-prone areas.

For example, Bay Area homebuyers who are priced out of San Francisco, where the median home sold for $1.45 million in September, may feel forced into more high-risk areas such as Santa Rosa, where the median price in September was $690,000, or Sacramento, where the median price was $475,000.