Last month, I was invited to speak to the Land Use, Property Rights and Environment Committee of the National Association of REALTORS® at their annual legislative event in Washington, DC. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) is America's largest trade association, representing over 1.1 million members, including NAR's institutes, societies, and councils, involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Its membership includes brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in the real estate industry. They have an important role in helping prospective property owners understand natural hazard and safety issues and the relative risk on a particular parcel.
More than 200 participants learned the basics of how homes ignite and what we’ve learned from research including that produced by the US Forest Service Fire Research Lab and the IBHS Research Center on how to mitigate for wildfire risks. In spite of the trend of more fire and larger fires in areas where homes are at risk, the good news is that Firewise principles can be applied anywhere and that the national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program is available for free to residents who voluntarily seek to reduce the ignition potential of their homes and neighborhoods.
NAR members learned that nearly 1,300 communities throughout the U.S. have taken important steps toward improving their safety through participation in Firewise Communities/USA®, and that the private sector is taking notice of this trend. For example, major insurer USAA is providing homeowner premium discounts for its members living in Firewise Communities in California, Colorado, Texas and Arizona. In California, a company called DisclosureSave produces a natural hazard disclosure report for individual properties that realtors there can use to comply with California disclosure laws. DisclosureSave’s product now includes information about whether a property is within or outside a recognized Firewise community. It’s estimated that 150,000 people annually will see this information as a result of the information in the natural hazard disclosure report.
While I always enjoy providing information about wildfire safety to any audience, I was gratified by the response by several participants, who got up to the microphone to comment on how Firewise had had such a positive influence in the places they lived and conducted business. From California to Colorado to Nevada to Washington state, people in the real estate industry are recognizing the value and positive impact of voluntary citizen action to become safer using Firewise principles.
To learn more about what REALTORS know, check out www.firewise.org/usa.
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