Redfin: Seattle-area home sales impacted by climate, environmental factors

Feb 29, 2024, 11:28 AM | Updated: 12:24 pm

Seattle home sales...

Climate factors may be having an impact on Seattle-area home sales. (Photo: MyNorthwest file)

(Photo: MyNorthwest file)

Seattle-area home buyers are becoming more interested in factors beyond the home itself.

Daryl Fairweather, Ph.D., chief economist for Redfin, says there are a myriad of topics outside of the walls of the home, like climate and environment, that buyers want to know.

Interviewed on Seattle’s Morning News, she cited the example that air pollution affects Pierce County’s home sales.

“It’s largely due to wildfire smoke, and that wildfire smoke might not be coming from Pierce County directly, but coming from surrounding counties or even from as far away as Canada, Oregon and California,” Fairweather said. “There’s just a lot of wildfire risk currently, and that risk is increasing, which would increase the amount of days where there is unhealthy air quality.”

She explained the trend is for people to move away from the West Coast.

“That’s where the air quality risk is highest,” Fairweather said. “Obviously, there’s also the factor of affordability. Seattle has become quite unaffordable over the last 10 years or so. And that’s true in San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

Related news: US home sales fell again in January; prices edged higher

Other environmental factors impacting home sales

She added environmental factors are playing a larger role in homebuyers’ decisions.

“We know for floods, specifically that when users see that a home has severe or extreme risk, they end up making offers on homes with about half the risk than what they were previously looking for when they have that information right in front of them.”

Fairweather said Redfin has added a “Climate” tab to the listings on its website so potential buyers can assess risk. She said the data comes from a nonprofit company called First Street Foundation. It has climate scientists who study the environment. (Head here to see the climate information for a home being sold in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood on Feb. 29.)

“We’ve included things such as school quality for the local schools, transit, scores, walkability, scores. So including these other environmental risks, it’s just another piece of data that someone might consider,” Fairweather said. “And we know people are considering it from what we see with our users’ behavior.”

Factors like walkability play a larger factor in a home’s appeal and, ultimately, price.

“Driving has become such a nightmare in many places that if you can find a place, we don’t have to drive as much. That’s a pretty good selling point,” Fairweather said. “Walkability is one measure of how you can get your local daily tasks done or where local amenities are, like how many restaurants there are in an area or other services that might be available.”

She explained access to public transit also is a growing concern. Many people want to be able to have access to trains and buses.

It’s not clear what impact the environmental issues have had on home prices, but it is impacting buyers’ choices.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Redfin: Seattle-area home sales impacted by climate, environmental factors