Eye of the Storm: Why You Need to Be Running HouseCanary’s Hurricane API Endpoint

Hurricane Florence is going to start hitting the Southeast United States by noon on Thursday, September 13, and although the storm has been downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane, experts still anticipate winds up to 125 miles per hour and torrential downpours in both South and North Carolina. It’s also expected to impact areas that might not have experienced a hurricane in recent years, which could have devastating consequences for the residents of those geographies.

Rental investors with properties in the Carolinas will no doubt be worrying about the people who are renting their properties in addition to what this hurricane could do to their homes, the assets that drive their profits. With HouseCanary’s hurricane hazard API endpoint, they can see a historic view of how hurricanes have affected those properties in the past.

The endpoint is HouseCanary’s proprietary summary of historical hurricane activity in the area, encompassing block-level hurricane activity, county-level hurricane activity, and nationwide hurricane activity. It leverages data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (through 2016), which measures Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), a metric that gauges the combined strength and duration of both tropical storms and hurricanes. Our endpoint delivers this data as a percentile value within the block, county, and the entire country for context. The way that investors have historically leveraged this data during last year's devastating floods in Florida and Texas was to quickly identify homes that were likely less prepared to weather the storm. In essence, flood-affected homes outside of historically active hurricane and flood zones tended to be homes that were less likely to maintain insurance or be built to withstand water damage.

This isn’t the only disaster-related endpoint that you can find in HouseCanary’s API. We also offer a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) endpoint that indicates whether a property was in a FEMA-recognized disaster area, which disaster, and when the disaster started and ended. And our flood endpoint incorporates flood risk information from FEMA’s Flood Map Center, including the date of the flood risk assessment, the level of flood risk, and more.

For buyers of new homes or whole loans, this is another risk screen that they can overlay to minimize exposure to natural hazard risk. Looking at these disaster endpoints can be more effective for investors than examining metrics like home price indices because home price indices derive from transactions. For example, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the effect of Katrina on home prices was imperceptible at the market statistical area (MSA) level because the homes most affected by the flood simply did not transact, and homes that did were riding the momentum of the national housing bubble’s peak. However, in the worst-affected neighborhoods in New Orleans, it took a full two years before we saw transaction volume return to where it was in the August before Katrina. And this was during the peak of the hottest national housing market in US history!

HouseCanary’s API includes both public records data and HouseCanary’s proprietary home valuation analytics, giving investors deeper understanding of each property’s value and why it’s worth that amount. It includes hundreds of customizable endpoints that users can leverage on their own websites or via HouseCanary’s Match and Append tool.