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The Week’s Wackiest Real Estate Listings, Ranked by Climate Risk

Heatmap Illustration/Habitable

Glued to real estate posts on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Dwell, Spaces, The Modern House, or Architectural Digest and wondering how those gorgeous homes will hold up in the next decades? I have you covered.

Heatmap has partnered with my new climate risk platform, Habitable. Every Friday, we add a climate risk score to the real estate listings featured in the news this week and ask: Could you live here as the climate changes?

Using a model developed by a team of Berkeley data scientists at Climate Check, Habitable scores each property for heat, flood, drought, and fire risk on a scale of 1-10. One represents the lowest risk and 10 is the highest. Our rating for each hazard is based on climate change projections through 2050. (You can check your own home’s climate risk here.)

For today’s edition, I apply the Habitable Index to check the climate risk of some of the wackiest houses on the market this week, homes that demand some truly creative wordsmithing by real estate companies.

1. If you like green eggs and ham ...

Red and blue Vermont house described as "a Giant Dr. Seuss Playhouse of Fun" Photo: Sothebys

A “colorful and quirky” New England House for sale in Vershire, Vermont, has been described as “a Giant Dr. Seuss Playhouse of Fun.” This home wins the prize for not only the lowest climate risk of this week’s listing, but for realtor adjectives too. Here are a few: truly remarkable, whimsical and unique, enchanting sanctuary, whimsical ambiance.

Vermont home interior.Photo: Sothebys

With no flood, drought, or fire risk and low heat risk, the house is, according to our index, quite habitable, but ... is it really?!

Featured on for $579,500.

2. How about a Tudor on steroids?

Tudor homeCirca Old Houses

“Historic charmer!” “Stately.” “Turn of the 20th century.” “In a converted artists hamlet.” “Abundant in original details.”

This home near the Shawagunk Mountain Range in upstate New York has a lot of ‘character’ and many, many porches, creating “a serene and magical escape.” The climate risk is so minimal you may choose to overlook the overwhelming wood-iness and Tudor-ness of this ultimately habitable home.

Featured on Circa Old Houses and listed for $750,000.

3. With every bath you take ...

Low-rise property with solar panels in New Mexico Photo: Zillow

This off-the-grid Earthship in a community of similar housing — the Greater World Community in New Mexico — has hit the market for $399,000. Meant for a very special buyer, the adjectives for the home are all punctuated with exclamation marks: A Colorful Jewel! Full of quirks! Oh, the functionality! No utility bills! Every bath waters the planters! A stone labyrinth, fenced dog pen, and round rooms! The practicality is appealing if you prefer rounded walls and zero symmetry, but love a bath for two, because the flood and fire risks are nil and the drought and heat risks seem really low considering it’s a desert. Could a jewel of an earthship be your next home?

Featured in and listed for $399,000.

4. White House wannabe in California

Replica mansion of White House in California

Iconic "Western White House."

This replica of the Washington, D.C., White House is a luxury property that hit the market this week for a whopping $38 million. It’s luxurious, yes, but also just nutty enough (a house built to look identical to the White House?) to require some very careful wording. “Formal entry parlor,” “East Room,” “Oval Office,” “Stunning grounds with White House Rose Garden.” Is it a selling point to have an Oval Office like the President? Apparently it was for George R. Hearst in the 1930s (the eldest son of William Randolph Hearst), who commissioned this odd replica. The climate risk is moderate for drought, flooding, and wildfires, but minimal for heat. Plus all that white marble should keep things cool.

Featured in The San Francisco Chronicle and listed for $38, 900,000.

5. Goth Barbie goes to the beach.

Pink cottage in Martha's VineyardPhoto: Zillow

The Dirt real estate site's description of this just-listed home in Martha's Vineyard is priceless. Some highlights: “Pre-dating the Barbiecore explosion, the Carpenter Gothic-styled, wee, bubblegum-pink cottage is part of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, which is known for its quaint gingerbread bungalows.”

But is it habitable? Barbie and crew will stay cool as heat, fire, drought risk are low, but all the hot pink surfboards, canoes or Barbie-sized yachts will not save them from extreme flood risk here.

Featured on Dirt and listed for $850,000.

6. Treehouse ‘chic’

Midcentury wood-covered house in VirginiaPhoto: Zillow

Perched among the trees, a teeny midcentury hit the market and immediately sold in Danville, Virginia, for $369,000. The subtlety of the description is what I like most: “minor architectural masterpiece” with “modernized appliances and finishes and yet the home’s original details remain intact.” While the house will not burn up, there’s a not-so-cute flood and drought risk (9/10). Is it built high enough to be truly habitable?

Featured in and sold for $369,000.

7. Kim Kardashian’s UFO not cleared for landing in Palm Springs.

Kim Kardashian’s collaboration with Japanese architect Tadao Ando for a spaceship-shaped home in Palm Springs has been all over the news this week. The project, described as “special’ “concrete, gray-toned, and really zen,” has not been approved. The project stall has nothing to do with the equally over the top drought, heat, and fire risk but all the same, if this building can fly away on command, they really should add that to the design plans.

Featured in NYPost.


Ann Marie Gardner

Ann Marie Gardner is an award-winning editor and entrepreneur. She writes about design and climate and just launched Habitable, a newsletter and tool to assess your home's risk from climate change. You can read it here: Read More

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