Wildfires and home prices: Are they related?

August 29, 2005

PORTLAND, Ore. August 29, 2005. Do wildfires influence the housing market? Is it a consideration when people buy or build?

Geoffrey Donovan, an economist at the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Ore., and his colleagues collaborated with the Colorado Springs Fire Department in Colorado to answer these questions.

The fire department developed a computer model to rate the wildfire risk of 35,000 parcels in the city's wildland-urban interface. Each parcel was given a fire risk rating: low, medium, high, very high, or extreme. The information was posted in 2002 on a fire department Web site accessible to homeowners who wanted to determine the risk rating of their home and learn how to reduce fire risk.

"We found that before the wildfire risk ratings were made available," says Donovan, "houses at higher risk from wildfire had higher sales prices than similar houses with a lower wildfire risk. This result seemed counterintuitive, until we considered that factors that increase a home's wildfire risk, such as being located on a ridge, can also have desirable effects such as better views.

"However," he continues, "after the wildfire risk ratings were released, we no longer observed a relationship between wildfire risk and housing prices. This was largely due to a change in tastes for flammable building materials.

"For example, before wildfire risk ratings were released, a wood roof added nearly $12,000 to the home price, whereas after wildfire risk ratings were made available, houses with wood roofs sold for $5,000 less than houses with less flammable roofs. It appears that the Fire Department's program successfully changed homeowner's attitudes concerning wildfire risk."

Wildfires continue to destroy homes as more and more people live closer to wildland areas. Nationally, wildfires destroyed an average of 2,500 homes in 2002-2003; up from an average of 900 burned between 1985 and 1994.
-end-
Cooperators in the study with Donovan are Captain Bill Mills and his team at the Colorado Springs Fire Department; Patricia Champ, Rocky Mountain Research Station/USDA Forest Service; and David Butry, Southern Research Station/USDA Forest Service. For more information about the Colorado survey visit http://csfd.springsgov.com/, and to learn more about the USDA Forest Service Research and Development visit http://www.fs.fed.us/research/.

USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station

Related Wildfire Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers find confusion over masks for wildfire, COVID-19 crises
Drawing from studies on human behavior and responses to past epidemics and wildfire smoke, researchers outline recommendations for communicating correct mask use and suggest areas for further research.

Post-wildfire hazards: Toward an understanding of when & how slope failure may occur
Across the western US, severe wildfires fueled by tinder-dry vegetation have already burned more than 3.2 million hectares (8 million acres [as of the time of this press release]) -- an area the size of Maryland -- in 2020, and nearly six times that area burned this year in Australia.

Wildfire smoke more dangerous than other air pollutants for asthma patients
For people who suffer from asthma, wildfire smoke is more hazardous than other types of air pollution, according to a new study from the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the Renown Institute for Health Innovation (Renown IHI) and the Washoe County Health District (WCHD).

Unexpected wildfire emission impacts air quality worldwide
During wildfires, nitrous acid plays a leading role--spiking to levels significantly higher than scientists expected, driving increased ozone pollution and harming air quality, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.

Wildfire on the rise since 1984 in Northern California's coastal ranges
High-severity wildfires in northern coastal California have been increasing by about 10 percent per decade since 1984, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, that associates climate trends with wildfire.

Many forests scorched by wildfire won't bounce back
A study of 22 burned areas across the Southern Rocky Mountains found that forests are becoming less resilient to fire, with some converting to grasslands after burning.

Study finds less impact from wildfire smoke on climate
New research revealed that tiny, sunlight-absorbing particles in wildfire smoke may have less impact on climate than widely hypothesized because reactions as the plume mixes with clean air reduce its absorbing power and climate-warming effect.

Wildfire smoke has immediate harmful health effects: UBC study
Exposure to wildfire smoke affects the body's respiratory and cardiovascular systems almost immediately, according to new research from the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health.

Stanford researchers forecast longer, more extreme wildfire seasons
Stanford-led study finds that autumn days with extreme fire weather have more than doubled in California since the early 1980s due to climate change.

Wildfire perceptions largely positive after hiking in a burned landscape
Results from pre- and post-hike surveys of a burned landscape indicate that people understand and appreciate the role of fire in natural landscapes more than is perceived.

Read More: Wildfire News and Wildfire Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.