Pandemic Housing Boom Puts More U.S. Buyers in Path of Wildfires

Americans looking for larger properties during the pandemic are moving to rural towns and suburbs — and driving up the price of homes with high fire risk.

Source: Bloomberg | Published on June 7, 2022

Hawaii wildfire

The median sale price of US homes with high fire risk was $550,500 in April, compared with $431,300 for homes with low fire risk, according to a recent report from Redfin.

While homes in risky fire areas typically garner higher prices, in part because they’re often larger and located in expensive West Coast markets, the premium on those properties has surged during the pandemic as Americans move out of big cities, Redfin said.

“For a lot of pandemic-era homebuyers, what has felt much more urgent than avoiding fire danger is finding a home they can afford at a time when inventory is so low and prices are so high,” said Corey Keach, a Redfin real estate agent in the Boulder, Colorado area.

Home prices across the US have soared over the last two years as low mortgage rates and demand for more space fueled a rush to the suburbs. A shortage of available properties has added to the frenzy and made it difficult for many buyers to find houses they can afford. California in particular has an acute shortage of homes and the crisis has pushed builders deeper into fire-prone areas.