When Realtor.com became the first listing platform to display flood hazard data on properties, the lead economist for Redfin expressed caution about the unintended consequences of displaying such statistics.
“We need to be very careful about how we provide information,” Taylor Marr, the lead economist at Redfin, told NPR at the time. “Could this actually reduce the value of this existing homeowner and essentially take away a lot of their net worth?”
Evidently, Redfin feels like the consumer benefit of knowing the flood risk outweighs that concern. The Seattle-based real estate brokerage and listings platform will be publishing flood risk information on nearly every home on its listing platform, it announced on Tuesday.
Like Realtor.com, Redfin will be publishing data compiled by First Street Foundation, a science and technology nonprofit organization that quantifies flood risk through Flood Factor.
“Buying a home is the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetime,” Redfin Chief Product Officer Christian Taubman said in a statement. “By publishing the Flood Factor score, we’re making it easier to understand the risk each home faces of being damaged by flooding, meaning everyone can make better-informed decisions about buying and selling. Most homebuyers and sellers say that the frequency or intensity of natural disasters factors into their decision about where and whether to buy or sell a home, so this is information they can really use.”
First Street’s model accounts for flood risk from four primary flood events, including heavy rainfall, storm surge, tidal and riverine sources. The organization says it also factors in potential climate change impacts. It provides a climate-adjusted assessment of current risk through the course of a 30-year mortgage.
First Street’s models areas not currently mapped by FEMA, the public source that determines payouts for those applying for aid through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Disclosure of flood risk for homes that are outside the official floodplain is important information for prospective buyers: about one-third of federal disaster money paid out to flood survivors is distributed to people who live outside the designated FEMA zones.
The flood scores are active across 94 million listings on Redfin.