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Gauging Wildfire Risks

As we enter wildfire season in much of the country, Realtor.com announced that it is the first major real estate site to add property-specific wildfire risk information to for-sale and off-market homes free of cost. An estimated one in five single family homes in the U.S., representing $8.8 trillion in property value, are at risk of being damaged by a wildfire over the next 30 years. Listings on Realtor.com will now include a “Fire Factor” rating from First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group, as well as information from USDA Forest Service. 

"Realtor.com was the first real estate site to display flood risk data on home listings and maps, which consumers have found to be extremely helpful in the buying process. As the likelihood of natural disasters like wildfire and flood increase, we want to provide as much information as possible for families to make informed decisions about where to live and how to protect their homes," said Sara Brinton, Lead Product Manager for Realtor.com. "By integrating wildfire risk data directly into maps and property listings, we can help homebuyers feel confident when making one of the biggest purchases of their lives." 

According to a recent survey from Realtor.com and HarrisX, 71% of recent homebuyers took natural disasters into account when considering where to move. Additionally, about half (47%) of recent buyers are more concerned about natural disasters today than they were five years ago. 

Wildfire risk data is not just useful for buyers; it also enables homeowners to take steps to mitigate risk and protect their property. This first-of-its-kind data integration on Realtor.com gives homebuyers and owners easy access to previously hard-to-find information about wildfires and property risk for free. 

Users can explore wildfire risk on interactive maps across the Realtor.com site. In addition, Realtor.com listings now include a new Environmental Risk section featuring an overview of wildfire and flood risks. Wildfire risk information includes Fire Factor from First Street Foundation, which is a simple risk rating on a scale of 1-10 based on the property's cumulative risk of wildfire damage over 30 years. The Fire Factor score considers property specific attributes such as exposure to embers, the extent and type of fuel sources, such as trees, grass and other vegetation, and the distance between a building and the nearest fuel sources. 

The USDA Forest Service Wildfire rating compares the wildfire risk of the county where the property is located to other counties across the country. 

Wildfire risk data will be coming soon to rental properties. For more information, click here. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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