Devastating Wildfires Only Add to Northern California's Housing Crunch


As home values continue to rise in Northern California, people affected by the recent wildfires are having a hard time picking up the pieces. People's homes that were reduced to rubble are now facing a housing market with skyrocketing values and limited inventories. Santa Rosa has the highest rent prices of any U.S. metropolitan city, leaving many who lost their homes in the wildfires with little to no options.

Property values in Santa Rosa have soared recently due to high demand from wealthy individuals seeking luxury homes. Rents in the city (about an hour north of San Francisco) have increased by 50 percent over the past five years, and the median home price rose to $600,000 as of August 2017.

People affected by the wildfires have few options as far as finding rental options or properties to lease. The occupancy rate in Santa Rosa stands at 96.5 percent, which means properties in the city are at full capacity. Additionally, the entire housing supply across Northern California is short.

People displaced by the wildfires may have to relocate to the east of the Bay Area in an effort to find available properties with comparable rents. According to the Burbank Housing Group, there were roughly 15,000 people on a waiting list in Sonoma County for low-income housing before the wildfires. The group expects that number to increase dramatically as homeowners affected by the fires will most likely become renters.

People in Northern California are still struggling with their losses. An estimated 221,000 acres were burned to ashes and roughly 3,500 homes were destroyed. Some hope that the fires will force local and state regulators to draft new policies that remove the restrictions placed on new home construction in California. They are hoping that regulators will put policies in place that will at a minimum meet normal housing demands.