No wildfires and the country’s best schools- how the environment is shaping real estate.

I was speaking with a colleague who is a real estate agent in the Berkshires recently and she noted that many people buying in her community are fleeing environmental changes in states like California and Texas. This really struck me and, unfortunately, I think the changing environment will continue to have an impact on real estate– some of the most expensive real estate in the country in fact. Home values will be impacted as people flock to areas that are less prone to the impacts of climate change.


In the Lake Tahoe region of northern California, the fire risk is too great, so insurance companies cease serving specific communities. New taxes are being passed to further fund local defensible space programs, and trees can’t come down fast enough. Often, as this New York Times opinion piece sadly recounts, the air quality on the west coast is so poor from wildfires that summer days are often spent indoors.


Rising sea levels and increasingly strong hurricanes threaten coastal areas on both coasts. Homes will be lost to the sea due to beach erosion or  require relocation to safer ground. Expensive coastal protection project costs may have to be borne by homeowners as this recent article about Nantucket described. Insurance costs are skyrocketing in flood and hurricane prone areas.


Even the seemingly ever-sprawling one-time relocation haven of Phoenix, AZ is finally having to face its growth issues as prolonged heat waves, often averaging over 105º for weeks, are draining the Colorado River of its life-giving contents. Water use restrictions are now common and lengthy. Officials are racing to figure out how to manage what’s left in sun-beaten Lake Mead, the southwest’s largest reservoir, a red-rock encased water tank planned without ever considering the impact of evaporation. 


Heat waves and unexpected freezing temperatures are too much for the electric grid in Texas causing brownouts or loss of power, sometimes for days.


Northern New Jersey, and our markets of Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange and Short Hills, specifically, offer respite from the risk of wildfire, highway buckling heat and the most intense hurricanes.

Yes, we get some snow, some cold and maybe the sun doesn’t shine as often as it does in Los Angeles, but our homes don’t need to meet increased fire safety standards and hurricane season typically materializes as a few days of heavy rain. Our homes won’t fall into the ocean and we don’t have extreme temperatures wreaking havoc on our everyday lives. This may be a source of increased interest in our marketplace in the future.


To the weather point, ever spent time in autumn in the northeast? If not, it’s definitely a vibe, as the kids say. From walkable, cool mornings to front porch-lined streets accented by color-coded oaks and maples, it’s often more than Instagram can handle. 


Beyond the low-risk of natural disaster, New Jersey has a reputation for having a consistently highly ranked public school system, most notably landing at #1 on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of states for Pre-K to grade 12. New Jersey is also one of the country’s most diverse, with only 67 percent of the population identifying as white/caucasian. We are a welcoming bunch. 


For these reasons, among others, our office continues to get calls from folks seeking homes from out of state, and our colleagues in other Compass offices are hearing it as well. If you have questions about the benefits of living in northern New Jersey please give us a call, or email Allison at [email protected] to set up a time to chat.


The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing real estate team based at Compass in Short Hills, NJ. We are local market experts, specializing in real estate and homes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills, Montclair, West Orange, NJ and the surrounding towns. We are driven by earning great testimonials and referral business from happy clients. You can read our testimonials here.