“We’re allowing them to buy something that they don’t know the risk — buying properties they are unable to protect or insure. We shouldn’t be putting families in some of these properties.”
Mallon expects a $700 billion correction to the $9.7 trillion housing market driven by climate change. “People won’t be prepared to pay as much, or they’ll be worthless,” he said. “Look at Lismore — how much will they be worth now that they’re washed out?”
Meanwhile, about 20 per cent of all homes in Australia are in areas that are exposed to tree canopy cover, Mallon said, adding that the 2019 bushfires give homeowners a sense of what the future might hold.
“The big thing that has to happen from governments and property developers is we have to build these properties in either the right place or build them in a way to cope with the risks that are there,” he said.
Experts said there was a raft of measures homeowners, governments and property developers could invest in to make homes more climate resilient, including retrofitting and better planning of new housing developments.
Natural Hazards Research Australia chief executive Andrew Gissing said it was important for homeowners to understand their risks to make risk-informed mitigation plans.
“Take floods for example … retrofitting of homes in regards to flood proofing them using building materials which will be able to suffer less damage from water inundating, using harder timbers and materials that are more resistant to water,” Gissing said.
“In areas of extreme heat, we can look at how we cool our suburbs more, through greening our suburbs, more heat-resilient building designs as well as energy efficiency and sustainability in those designs.”
RMIT’s School of Property, Construction and Project Management senior lecturer Dr Trivess Moore said it was important households were provided with tailored information about climate change risks to improve the quality of housing stock and better protect it.
“Given the building and social costs, we need to be better prepared at mitigating and protecting. This is a really critical issue. We can’t have a large population who are under-insured,” Moore said.
“As we have more people moving from cities to regional areas, there may be a lot of people living in these riskier areas that don’t have that longer-term knowledge of managing the land and the property.
“It can also help push people to protect their property or lift the value of their properties across the community.”