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Real estate giant Redfin adds game-changing new feature to its home listings: 'People do use this information'

"They are using it on some level to decide between one home or another."

"They are using it on some level to decide between one home or another."

Photo Credit: iStock

As a prospective homebuyer, you'll bring many questions to the table. A real estate brokerage may be able to answer one of those queries after adding a new feature to its home listings: air quality data.

What's happening?

Real estate giant Redfin has published a feature on its website and app that allows users to see how many days, on average, you can expect an area to experience poor air quality, as well as the expected increase.

In the listings, users can navigate to the "Climate" tab to see the expected days of poor air quality in the house's listed area, defined as having an Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeding 100. 

This data is drawn from Risk Factor, a site that uses models to determine the approximate climate risk of a particular address. On Redfin, users can also see the approximate number of days per year for flooding, wildfire, wind, and heat. 

Why is this feature important? 

According to CBS News, one in four Americans breathe unhealthy air. Higher temperatures, drought, wildfire, and even airborne allergens have contributed to worsening air quality. This has left Americans at risk of a variety of health problems, including asthma attacks, respiratory infections, heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and mental illness

Redfin told CNBC that nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. have moved out of their homes due to poor air quality and the health conditions associated with it. Poor air quality is not just an American problem, though, as only 10 out of 134 countries meet air quality standards, according to a study from Swiss company IQAir

Providing this data for potential homebuyers can help them avoid areas with a poor AQI and prepare for seasons with worsening air quality. 

"We know that people do use this information," Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, told The Washington Post. "They are using it on some level to decide between one home or another."

Air quality isn't viewed in the same way as normal day-to-day weather is. But experts recommend more monitoring of air quality because of the risk it poses for people and the environment. 

What is being done about air quality?

Some private companies are researching ways to reduce worsening air quality, such as one tech company that has created a tower to clean the air in a New Delhi park. Other companies are looking into ways to make air quality monitoring more accessible, including a startup aiming to bring AQI monitoring to smartphones.

The U.S. government helped save millions of lives with the Clean Air Act in 1970. With the act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a framework for monitoring air and increasing tracking of AQI, as well as providing state mandates for implementing clean air standards

Meanwhile, with the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, you can receive tax credits to purchase electric vehicles or install solar panels in your home to help reduce air pollution.  

Individually, there are ways you can reduce worsening air quality and the risks associated, including using public transportation, driving electric vehicles, and checking the air quality inside and outside your home as often as possible. 

Sensor devices give you real-time information about the air quality in your immediate area and allow you to plan accordingly. In your home, you can protect your air quality by replacing items that contribute to worsening air quality — such as gas stoves — and using air purifiers

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