Document Type

Working Paper

Date of This Version

8-1-2015

Abstract

In September 2010, the Fourmile-Lefthand Canyon forest fire burned 6,181 acres, destroyed 169 homes, and caused $217 million in property damages making it by far the most expensive fire in Colorado history at the time. This paper examines how the fire affected housing prices in vulnerable neighboring areas that were not directly impacted by the fire, controlling for the property’s level of risk. This damaging fire may have increased home owners’ perceptions about the risk of living in forested areas subject to wildfires to a significant degree adding to the total direct economic losses from the fire. Utilizing a unique fire risk data set and a difference-in-difference approach, we test whether buyers of houses in areas with different risk levels prior to the fire adjust expectations differently. We find buyers in the highest risk area are most likely to change their perceptions in response to a fire with houses in these areas experiencing a statistically significant 21.9% decline in sale price.

Working Paper Number

1503

Included in

Economics Commons

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