Redfin Adds Air Quality Scores to Its Lists as Climate Concerns Rise

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After a year of record air pollution from wildfire smoke, real estate brokerage Redfin began publishing air quality data in its home listings. Now, buyers can see how many days per year on average a particular area will experience poor air quality and whether that number is expected to increase over time.

Redfin launched the new feature this week. Users can find it in the “climate” tab above the listing, along with information about other environmental hazards, such as fire, heat, drought, and storms, that Redfin has included in its listings since 2021. As with information on schools, walkability and price history, the company says that understanding a property’s climate risks is essential for home buyers looking to make an informed decision, from all the more so as these risks intensify. Although poor air quality may not always pose as visible a threat as wildfires or hurricanes, its effects can build up over time and harm a person’s health.

“Seeing all the data helps people quantify risk when deciding whether to live in one county or another,” said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin. “What is likely to happen over time is that [poor air quality] It’s just a different type of weather that people can adapt to, or they say “it’s not worth it” and move to another area. Recent studies have shown that wildfire smoke has had a significant impact on air quality, slowing or even reversing improvements made since the passage of the Clean Air Act.

According to a Redfin analysis, people are indeed leaving areas with a higher risk of unclean air. The company studied U.S. Census Bureau data and air quality risk scores, revealing that between 2021 and 2022, an additional 1.2 million people moved out of areas where at least one in 10 properties have a major, serious or extreme risk of poor air quality. This is more than double the number of people who left these regions in the previous two years.

But importantly, these high-risk places, like Pierce County in Washington state and San Bernardino and Fresno counties in California, are largely clustered on the West Coast, where housing costs continue to rise. arrow. The study notes that the majority of those decamping to other regions are motivated by affordability and not air quality concerns.

And they’re not necessarily moving to areas of the country with better environmental prospects. Places like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tampa are among the most popular destinations for people relocating because of their affordability. Although they offer a cheaper cost of living, they also face increased climate risks, including extreme heat, extreme winds, hurricanes and flooding, according to Redfin.

To determine the air quality risk of a given neighborhood, Redfin relies on First Street, a climate risk data company that analyzes the number of days of poor air quality expected over the course of of the current year and in the three decades to come. It assigns each house one of six ratings, ranging from minimal to extreme.

Fairweather said there was reason to believe the new air quality data could influence buyers’ decisions. Before the company began including information about flooding in 2021, it conducted a controlled experiment involving 17.5 million users. Half of them were able to view flood risk scores specific to their property, and the other half did not have access to this information. “In this experiment, people used this flood information and ended up making offers on homes that were half as risky” as homes they had looked at previously, she said.

“We know people are using this information,” Fairweather said. “They use it on some level to decide between one house or another.”

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