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The Real Estate Sessions - Bill Risser EPISODE 261, 17th November 2020
Episode 261 – Skylar Olsen, Principal Economist at ClimateCheck
00:00:00 00:40:58

Episode 261 – Skylar Olsen, Principal Economist at ClimateCheck

Episode Summary:

Our guest today brings us on a different avenue of real estate and home buying regarding what climate change may bring in the future. Joining us is Skylar Olsen, Principal Economist at ClimateCheck, a brand-new platform making it possible to rate real estate based on the expected future climate changes in the area. Skylar Olsen is also the Founder of Reimagine Economics, an economic consultancy and blog that bridges the gap between companies and professionals regarding data sharing. 

In this episode, join Skylar and me to find out more about Zillow's Zestimate algorithms and the passion behind why Skylar founded Reimagine Economics. We also discuss the future of real estate and home buying when climate change is taken into account and how Realtors can use ClimateCheck's new platform in future listings! 

Top Takeaways: 

  • Skylar Olsen's Advice for New Agents
  • "Get ready for the conversation; it's coming to you. Some of your buyers are going to want to talk about it [climate change]."
  • "People are going to start to feel more and more uncertain about the decisions that they are making in some areas of the U.S., and an agent is going to be a critical front-line person that has that conversation. Being prepared to have it can mean arming yourself with information, positioning yourself as someone who can help understand how to position a home for sale, if there is a climate risk."
  • "How do you help a homeowner? Add resilience to their home to get ready for sale. You're going to be the front-lines on this one; getting prepared is probably the best advice that I can say."

"People are still interested in buying homes, but the inventory is not existent. Those algorithms that Zillow uses to create the Zestimate, you have got to use data to do it right. That data is pre-crisis data, that data is in the before times. You need the human to kind of think about what is happening." – Skylar Olsen [18:05]

"Putting the risk at your doorstep, getting real individuals to understand what the risk means to them I think is one of the best ways that we can actually enact change." – Skylar Olsen [29:12] 

Episode Highlights:

[00:22] Intro

[00:44] Meet Skylar Olsen – Climate Change Economist 

[01:34] Moving Around the Country to Reside in Seattle 

[06:45] Pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics at University of Washington 

[10:14] Why Skylar Went into the Industry Instead of Academia 

[13:13] Skylar's Path to Zillow and Working with the Consumer 

[16:31] The Zestimate Technology 

[19:01] Why Skylar Founded Reimagine Economics 

[22:48] Making the Market Benefit Many 

[25:08] What Is ClimateCheck? 

[30:44] ClimateCheck's Impact on the Homebuying Experience

[33:30] Optimism Surrounding Doing What's Right with Climate Change 

[37:49] Skylar's Advice for New Agents 

[39:43] Connect with Skylar 

[40:18] Closing Thoughts 

[40:36] Outro 

Episode Notes: 

Joining the podcast today is Skylar Olsen, Principal Economist at ClimateCheck, a brand-new program that recently launched, making it possible for real estate to be rated based on the expected future climate changes that might occur in that area. Skylar Olsen is also the Founder of Reimagine Economics, a blog and economic consultancy that facilitates translating economics and data analytics into something meaningful for everyone. 

When asked where she was from, Skylar Olsen says Seattle, Washington. Even though she is not a Pacific Northwest native, she has lived in Seattle the longest out of any place and feels at home there. Skylar was born in western West Virginia and spent many of her summers working on her Grandmother's 150-acre apple and peach orchard. Skylar moved from West Virginia to California for her childhood years before moving to Columbus, Ohio, throughout her teenage years as her father pursued his Ph.D. Skylar Olsen followed her father on his tenure and received her bachelor's in economics from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. 

 Skylar Olsen continued her education, moving to Seattle, Washington, where she received her Masters and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Washington. Skylar left the University of Washington with the need to make a difference and landed at Zillow, the largest and richest housing dataset in the nation, where she used data to explain how housing markets work and work outward facing with the consumers. Skylar worked at Zillow for over eight years, moving from Economist to Senior Principal Economist. 

Skylar Olsen recently left Zillow and soon after founded Reimagine Economics in August and joined ClimateCheck as a Principal Economist in September. With both passion projects, Skylar offers unique expertise to empower and add resiliency to consumers both at ClimateCheck and Principal Economist. ClimateCheck makes it simple for anyone to instantly perform a risk assessment on their home with hopes of building a safer future for homeowners and their families. ClimateCheck makes it possible to see the risks based on the area around a home and to see how climate change affects a property over the next thirty years backed by real data. Skylar is optimistic that solutions will come when people become more informed and identify the real threats in their own lives. 

Skylar Olsen's advice to new agents is to be prepared to have conversations surrounding climate change. Some buyers will want to discuss these real climate change threats that may surround themselves and their future home. As time continues, people will continue to feel more and more uncertain about the decisions they are making, and Skylar believes that agents will be part of the front-line when it comes to climate change conversations around home buying. 

Resources Mentioned:



At Tresonline.com


Find | Bill Risser

At bill.risser@fnf.com

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Youtube


Find | Skylar Olsen

At skylar@reimagine-economics.com

On LinkedIn

On ClimateCheck Website 

On Reimagine Economics Website 


At Ratethispodcast.com/REsessions

On Apple Podcasts

On Google Podcasts

On Stitcher