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The majority of American homeowners are increasingly nervous about weather hazards from climate change. Some are even to the point of moving, according to a recent survey.

LendingTree commissioned a survey of almost 2,000 homeowners across the U.S. in February and 51% said that they were at least somewhat worried about climate change-related hazards like coastal flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, winds, severe storms and sea level rise. 

About 40% reported that their neighborhoods were already experiencing those related hazards. About 13% of that group had already moved to an area or house with lower risk. Another third are considering moving.

About 17% of homeowners said that the risk of hazards has already stopped them from buying a particular home. And 42% say that climate change-related hazards are the top factor for choosing a home.

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Property value

About a quarter of all surveyed worry that the hazards will drop property values in the next 10 years. For millennials, the percentage goes up to 38%. Parents with kids younger than 18 polled at 36% while men polled at 32%.

 Another quarter fear the hazards but think it will take longer than 10 years. A slim majority, 51%, though don’t think climate change risks will impact property values.

The threat of increased storm activity and rising sea levels does have coastal homeowners concerned. Some 47% believe their homes will remain livable but at a lower value, while 38% said the worry their home will become uninhabitable. Only 15% of homeowners feel that their property would not be affected in the long-term.

Concern about increasing severity and number of severe storms is top of mind, 24% are most concerned. Hurricanes and flooding tied for second with 14% each.

A majority of homeowners – 57% – said they would pay more for a home with less of a climate change risk.

“No one can predict the future, but you can take steps to minimize the damage a natural disaster may cause,” Bhatt said. “For example, wind- and hail-resistant roofs and windows can make a difference. But if having enough insurance and taking steps to minimize damage aren’t enough to alleviate your concerns, you may be better off relocating to a different area in your community, or a different community altogether.”

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Insurance costs

More than 21% of homeowners said their insurance has already gone up due to climate change. About 70% expect insurance to be more expensive in the future due to the hazards.

“If an area experiences multiple disasters in a relatively short amount of time, insurance becomes more expensive and often harder to get,” said LendingTree’s home insurance expert, Rob Bhatt in a statement. 

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“We’re seeing this in certain areas in California, Texas and Florida, which are the largest states by population, as well as in disaster-prone areas such as Oklahoma and Colorado,” he continued. “If home insurance rates get too high, they can reduce the amounts people can afford for properties, because your home insurance payments are usually folded into the monthly escrow payments you make for a mortgage.”

Over a third of homeowners fear that they will be dropped by their home insurers, with 23% concerned it will happen in the next 10 years.

LendingTree writes that additional insurance is becoming more common. About 38% of homeowners said they have purchased additional coverage, with flood insurance topping the list with 17%.

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“As climate disasters become more frequent, you should account for things such as a home’s potential flood, windstorm and wildfire risks,” Bhatt said. “If you buy a home in an area where these types of risks are prevalent, you may pay more for insurance than expected. Or you may not have enough insurance to rebuild after a natural disaster strikes, which can be financially devastating.”

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Do your homework before buying a home

Do your homework before buying a home. You can take a look at FEMA’s National Risk Index to find out how at risk a new area is to certain disasters when choosing a location.

LendingTree suggests a few ways to factor climate change-related hazards into the budget of a house hunt.

  1. Factor insurance costs into the budget. You can get a home insurance quote before you even submit an offer to buy a home.
  2. Ask the real estate agent for a copy of the home’s CLUE, Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report. That shows any prior claims.

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