- Northern California agents roll up their sleeves and do anything they can to help their community, which may or may not have to do with real estate.
It’s been just over a week since thousands of Northern California residents frantically left their homes in the early hours of the morning as fires raged into wine country’s highly populated areas.
More than 100,000 people have evacuated, while the death toll has risen to 41. The relentless fires have caused estimated $3 billion worth of property damage, destroying at least 5,700 structures and blackening 200,000 acres. Around 14 wildfires still burn across the state, though firefighters say they have “turned a corner.”
The numbers are staggering enough to paralyze you, but local real estate agents were anything but sedentary as they got right to work giving clients the support they need — both practical and emotional.
“I will be reaching out to people struggling and make sure they feel the love and support, to be that expert for them,” said David Samson of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty in Napa. “If I need to drive up to a home and meet somebody there, that’s what I’ll do; that’s where we separate ourselves from the rest.”
In Napa county, where an estimated 400 to 500 homes were lost to the fires, Samson, who was formerly a school principal, has been inspecting properties on behalf of homeowners living in other parts of the country.
Properties that survived but were damaged from the smoke should be treated by national companies that specialize in restoration cleaning, Samson is advising. But he has three clients who are dealing with the loss of their entire home, one whose rural property listing was due to close tomorrow and just yesterday burned down.
“The buyers are so upset, everybody is upset,” he said.
The immediate inventory hit means an already-costly downtown Napa property market is now even more valuable. Samson expects two of his listings in the area — which were already expensive — to sell fast to families who lost their homes, though he also anticipates the area’s land value will go down.
Because the majority of homes destroyed in Napa were on the highest end of the market — built high up with beautiful views — they are likely to be rebuilt, Samson believes, with the support of the city and county of Napa.
Nicole Solari of Solari Group is also getting a lot of questions around pricing in her Napa market. “People whose homes did not burn down really want to know what that does for their home price,” she said. Many are pondering whether they should put their home on the market or wait to sell.
In Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa, which was hit hardest by the fires with over 3,000 homes lost in the two large housing subdivisions of Fountaingrove and Coffey Park, agents are working to find rentals for the suddenly homeless. According to press reports, Santa Rosa has lost around 5 percent of its housing stock.
Denise Chaparteguy, a veteran agent with Terra Firma Global Properties in Santa Rosa, said the administrative staff at her company had provided all the agents with a list of rentals to pass onto clients.
The agent, who lives close to Fountaingrove herself, had heard that it would take at least three to four years to help rebuild these subdivisions.
In the coming weeks, her clients would have real estate questions, but they will also be looking for personal support, Chaparteguy expects.
“Santa Rosa and Sonoma county, they call it God’s country,” she said. “This horrible disaster has everyone holding hands, getting together, and we will emerge a stronger community.”