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Wildfires and Low Inventory to Strain Southern California Housing Market

wildfires-4As the Thomas Fire continues to rage, becoming the fourth largest fire in California’s wildfire history, homeowners in the path of its destruction are likely to face a challenging time even after it subsides.

According to the latest housing market report released by Redfin, home inventory in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has declined in double-digits for three months straight. The wildfires could exacerbate this shortage in areas where wildfires have already destroyed many homes and are threatening to destroy many more.

Redfin’s report said that, while it is too early to know how many homes and families will be impacted, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties were already facing a shortage of homes for sale. Families displaced by the wildfires will likely find it challenging to find another home for sale nearby.

“The fires have had a big impact on the people and communities in and around Ventura, Ojai, and Santa Barbara,” said John Venti, an agent at Redfin. “Our already low inventory levels are likely to take a beating in the coming months, not only from the loss of homes but also the disruption of life and business in the area.”

In Ventura County in November, inventory was down 17.6 percent and prices grew 9.8 percent year-over-year to a median of $600,000. In Santa Barbara County, inventory was down 23.3 percent and prices grew 6.8 percent year-over-year to a median of $575,000.

But analysts are hopeful for a resilient market. Nela Richardson, Chief Economist at Redfin, said, “Markets have been quick to recover from severe weather events, even as challenges remain. For example, Houston home sales were up 4.3 percent in November from a year ago, and Tampa sales were up 6.1 percent. We are hopeful that Southern California markets show the same level of resilience in the aftermath of wildfires there.”

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