A whopping 17.3 million single-family homes and condos, with a combined estimated market value of $4.9 trillion, fall in ZIP codes with high or very high risk of at least one of four environmental hazards. Those environmental hazards include superfunds, brownfields, polluters, or poor air quality (see box for definitions), according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ third annual Environmental Hazards House Risk Index.
That represents 25 percent of the 68.1 million single-family homes and condos in the more than 8,500 ZIP codes ATTOM Data Solutions analyzed for the study. On the other hand, 75 percent of single-family homes and condos, worth a combined $16.9 trillion, did not fall within a high or very high risk index to any of the four environmental hazards examined.
“Home values are higher and long-term home price appreciation is stronger in ZIP codes without a high risk for any of the four environmental hazards analyzed,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Corresponding to that is a higher share of homes still seriously underwater in the ZIP codes with a high risk of at least one environmental hazard, indicating those areas have not regained as much of the home value lost during the downturn.”
Notably, “home price appreciation over the past five years was actually stronger in the higher-risk ZIP codes, which could reflect the strong influence of investors during this recent housing recovery,” Blomquist adds. “Environmental hazards likely impact owner-occupants more directly than investors, making the latter more willing to purchase in higher-risk areas. The higher share of cash sales we’re seeing in high-risk ZIP codes for environmental hazards also suggests that this is the case.”
The following ZIP codes had the 10 highest total of environmental hazard index values calculated by researchers: Denver; San Bernardino, Calif.; Curtis Bay, Md. (in the Baltimore metro area); Santa Fe Springs, Calif. (in the Los Angeles metro area); Fresno, Calif.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Saint Louis; Mira Loma, Calif. (in the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area); Hamburg, Pa. (in the Reading metro area); and Tampa, Fla.