Housing Markets Impacted by Carr Fire Could See Housing Inventory Shortages and Sale Price Surges

In October 2017, California’s most destructive wildfire, the Tubbs Fire, swept through Santa Rosa in Sonoma County. It destroyed nearly 5,000 homes and had a significant impact on the area’s housing market. In August 2018, less than a year after the Tubbs Fire, the Carr Fire has destroyed over 1,000 homes just a couple hundred miles north of Santa Rosa near Redding. The Carr Fire is nearing 100% containment but its full impact to the housing market remains unknown.  SP Group compared the characteristics of the two fire’s impacted areas to determine if we could expect a similar effect on the housing market.

Impacted Areas of Both Fires Show Similar Characteristics

The Carr Fire and Tubbs Fire both resulted in a significant amount of damage (46 percent to 65 percent) and impacted areas with a considerable elderly population.  The map shows both fires and the characteristics of the area that was burned; Carr in blue and Tubbs in orange.

Tubbs Fire Had a Significant Impact on Housing Market

After the Tubbs Fire, the number of lots for sale jumped, while the number of homes for sale declined. In Santa Rosa, there were 231 empty-lot listings after the fire in March 2018, as compared to 69 listings in March 2017. From March 2017 to March 2018, single-family listings fell 16.6 percent, from 320 to 267. It is estimated that the lots for sale after the fire were offered by mostly elderly fire survivors, without the time and energy needed to rebuild.

Due to the shortages in turn-key homes for sale, home prices in Santa Rosa surged in the months following the Tubbs Fire: “The median home price in Santa Rosa rose 5.5 percent to $630,000 in March, from $597,250 a year ago.” In Sonoma County, a record $738 million changed hands in November and December for house and condominium sales.

Considering the similarities in damage and the demographics, the area affected by Carr Fire could see a similar impact to its housing market as Santa Rosa after Tubbs Fire. SP Group will continue to monitor the housing market as the Redding area begins to recover and rebuild.