There are some market issues that agents just can’t be prepared for, and representing survivors of a natural disaster ranks high on the list.
According to a CNN report, in Santa Rosa, housing was already scarce before the fire. Now, there’s even less.
Altogether, the fires killed 42 people and destroyed 8,400 structures, according to Cal Fire. The fires are almost contained, as of Friday.
Even as residents express their thanks after surviving the deadly blaze, many face dealing with daily uncertainty. Where do they go from here? Where are they going to sleep tonight?
Residents who have lost everything are living in mobile homes, staying with friends and family, or bouncing from one hotel to another, trying to figure out where they can stay after their homes were reduced to ash.
Some have gone to stay with family more than a hundred miles away. Many Santa Rosa survivors told CNN that they want to stay close to Santa Rosa. They’ve lost their homes, they don’t want to lose their jobs, too.
Santa Rosa, a mixed-income community is about 50 miles north of San Francisco. It was one of the last vestiges of affordable housing compared with the rest of the Bay Area.
In Santa Rosa, the average value was around $600,000, compared with San Francisco’s $1.2 million and Marin County’s $1 million, according to 2017 data from the National Association of Realtors.
Rick Laws, senior vice president in Santa Rosa for Pacific Union International real estate agency, noted that before the fires, the city had already been grappling with severe lack of housing and a 3 percent vacancy rate.
“The inventory was constrained prior to the fire. Now, we have lost about 5 percent of the housing stock of Santa Rosa, so that’s huge.”
A listing in Petaluma — a city 15 miles south — had previously rented for $4,000 a month and went for $13,000 to an insurance company. Another vacation rental also went to an insurance company for $18,000 a month, he said.
Laws pointed out that homes that had once seemed undesirable have been snapped up.
“People are calling, asking ‘What have you got? I can buy it. I don’t care what it is.”
Questions swirl about whether rental housing will be rebuilt and how affordable it will be. As a result, low-income people will be disproportionately affected. Laws agreed that costs will likely increase.
“We’re going to see inventory get really tight and prices go up. Not everyone can buy, and there were almost no rentals prior to this. I don’t know where everyone’s going to go.”