Wildfire Task Force Proposal’s Impact on Real Estate

In the wake of the horrendous wildfires in 2012, Governor Hickenlooper created the Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health to examine how to best protect property and people within and adjacent to the wildland-urban interface and Colorado’s landscape.

The Task Force is comprised of state and federal officials, including Division of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Barbara Kelley, as well as a few members of the private sector. However, it does not include a representative from the Colorado Association of REALTORS, although it should because some of the ideas the Task Force is considering would impact real estate.

For example, using maps that will be created by the Colorado State Forest Service, properties that are located in a “wildland-urban interface” (WUI)  would be subject to a mandatory disclosure if the owner decides to sell. The disclosure would inform a potential purchaser that the property has added risk due to its location.  In addition, the sale and transfer of a property’s title would be dependent on the certification that the property meets certified defensible space standards before the property transfer could be consummated.

The Colorado Association of REALTORS is monitoring the proposal and will keep local associations informed as the proposal goes forward. At this point it is unknown when the final recommendations will be provided to Gov. Hickenlooper. Depending on the nature of the recommendations, he could implement some of them by executive order but the hope is that the REALTORS and other interested groups (such as Colorado Counties Inc.) will have time to provide input on the proposal before anything is finalized.

At this point there are many questions about the proposal:  How would the WUIs be determined? Who would conduct the certification inspections? Would the voters approve property tax increases for special districts that would put the “risk of owning a property located in the WUI”?

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