A few things happened around that time that might have made prospective home buyers more worried about climate risk, Dr. Keys said. An international report the previous year highlighted the risks of extreme weather events. After that report came out, Google searches in Florida for “sea level rise” spiked.
And people from the Northeast, who account for a significant portion of Florida home buyers, had just lived through Hurricane Sandy, which damaged some 650,000 homes and caused 8.5 million people to lose power, some for months.
“After Sandy, all of a sudden, flood risk becomes a very salient thing” for those buyers, Dr. Keys said.
To check whether that drop in demand predicted a decline in prices, Dr. Keys and Mr. Mulder looked at a second set of data, from Zillow. They found that, since 2018, prices in high-risk markets have started to fall too, dropping by about 5 percent by 2020 compared with less vulnerable coastal census tracts.
The large and growing gap in sales volume between safer and riskier areas, Dr. Keys said, suggests that the gap in prices over the past two years isn’t just the normal boom-and-bust cycle of Florida real estate, but part of a longer trend, with prices likely to follow demand downward in risky areas. “It tells us how fast this reality is approaching,” he said.
Housing experts who weren’t involved in the new paper, when told of its conclusions, said that using sales volume to predict a change