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Home buyers’ concern over natural hazards

Nine in 10 home buyers consider natural hazard risks when deciding on a property, writes Sally Lindsay.

By: Sally Lindsay

2 April 2024

The EQC Nielsen IQ report has revealed 89 per cent of people who have recently bought or are considering buying a property have natural hazard risks on their minds.

New Zealand is highly exposed to natural hazard risks, including earthquakes and volcanoes, says Jo Horrocks, EQC chief resilience and research officer.

“We also face increasing exposure to severe weather and the resulting hazards such as flooding and coastal inundation,” she says.

“It is not surprising that the devastation caused by the severe weather last year has made New Zealanders more aware of natural hazard risks and it is positive that people are more aware about these risks and using that knowledge to inform their decisions.”

This includes getting engineering advice as well as looking at the Natural Hazards Portal before buying a new home, Horrocks says.

EQC claims

The portal shows the locations of more than 360,000 claims EQC has settled since 1997.

Users can zoom on the map, and it tells them where, when and roughly why there was natural hazard damage, so buyers can make an informed decision.

Horrocks says home buyers should also check local council files on the property that might help them understand any natural hazard risks associated with the location and ensure any building or construction work has appropriate consents.

“In addition, investigate what features of a home might make it more at risk of damage from natural hazards, such as older chimneys, secure foundations, and structurally important retaining walls.

“Also consider the potential cost of any construction or repair work needed and then talk with a lawyer about how this might affect an offer,” she says. “Vendors can take action before listing a home to improve the strength and safety of features that might pose a concern for would-be buyers.”

Insurance policies

Understanding insurance and what it covers is also important for home buyers, such as knowing the total amount it would cost to rebuild the house including demolition, debris removal, professional and council fees to set a sum insured, Horrocks says.

And being aware that under legislation, EQCover for land is only intended to cover the land needed to support or access the house.

“We all have different appetites when it comes to level of risk – including risks posed by natural hazards,” she says.

“We encourage all home buyers to go into a purchase with their eyes open so they can make a decision on a new home that is right for them.”


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