Real Estate

Natural disasters hit roughly 1 in 10 American homes in 2021

A man walks to his friend’s home in a neighbourhood without electricity as snow covers the BlackHawk neighborhood in Pflugerville, Texas, U.S. February 15, 2021.
Bronte Wittpenn | Austin American | Rueters

In 2021, there were 20 climate disasters that each resulted in losses of at least $1 billion in the U.S., according to NOAA.

That wreaked havoc on American homes. About 1 in 10 homes were impacted by natural disasters, according to a study released Thursday by CoreLogic, a property research organization. That’s over 14.5 million homes, totaling nearly $57 billion in property damage.

Winter storms in the center of the country had the greatest impact, hitting more than 12.7 million homes and causing over $15 billion in property damage, according to CoreLogic. Better insulation for walls and ceilings, higher window standards, and minimizing pipe exposure may better winterize homes for the future, CoreLogic suggests.

The report lists hurricanes, which caused $33 billion in property damage, as the next most destructive type of natural disaster in 2021. This was followed by the severe weather category, which includes tornadoes and hailstorms, with over $7 billion in property damage.

Wildfires caused nearly $1.5 billion in property damage. Long-lasting dry conditions and extreme heat are contributing to more wildfires every year. The Dixie Fire in 2021 was the second-largest wildfire in California history, burning nearly 1 million acres.

At the same time, 2021 was a record year for the housing market. Mortgage interest rates are expected to rise in 2022, potentially cooling the market. Either way, homeowners and prospective buyers should consider how natural disasters will affect the value of their homes.

Flood insurance, which is typically not included in traditional homeowners insurance, could help protect the assets of residents affected by hurricanes. Removing firewood and other flammable materials from porches, cleaning roofs and gutters of dead leaves, and installing metal mesh screens on vents could help reduce the spread of fire, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

CoreLogic suggests local, state and federal governments should enact informed policies to protect each local environment from natural disasters.

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