- The real estate community of Fountaingrove, Santa Rosa, is bracing for the worst possible news of their homes and their livelihoods.
- 73,000 acres have burned, at least 1,500 homes and buildings have been destroyed, and mandatory evacuation orders remain in effect for over 20,000 homes.
It has been quite a 24 hours for Santa Rosa agent Meaghan Creedon of Bradley Real Estate, as fire overtook her community of Fountaingrove early yesterday morning, Monday, Oct. 9, one of many areas in Northern California ravaged by devastating wildfires.
Awoken by her children when their night lights weren’t working — which turned out to be power failure — Creedon went outside to her balcony and saw fire all around. She and her family got out of their home in 15 minutes, grabbing Creedon’s wedding photo album on the way out. Then they knocked on their neighbors’ doors to wake them up, too.
The police won’t yet let her and her neighbors return for fear of still-burning fires and looters, so Creedon is uncertain if her home made it. She’s preparing herself for the worst. Still, Creedom told Inman from her mother’s home in Santa Rosa that, “real estate must go on.”
Creedon was just today writing up an offer letter for a client who wants a home in West Petaluma (20 miles away) that’s attracted multiple offers. He needs the home now for himself and his parents, because their previous shared residence in Fountaingrove went up in flames.
“They lost 99.99 percent of all their possessions,” Creedon explained. She said she told her buyer: “‘I need you to write about what your family is going through, the devastation and their need for a roof over their heads.'”
A low-inventory market watches as listings go up in smoke
The latest news reports on the 17 fires raging through the North Bay region — in Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa Valley predominantly — say that few are contained. So far, 15 people have been reported killed in the fires statewide, 115,000 acres have burned, and at least 2,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed. Mandatory evacuation orders remain for over 20,000 homes.
Meanwhile according to a just-released report from real estate data firm CoreLogic, a total of 172,117 homes with a combined reconstruction cost value (RCV) of $65 billion-plus remain at risk from the wildfires.
Creedon and many of her fellow real estate agents in Santa Rosa are watching and waiting with quiet despair as their once-thriving, low-inventory housing market disappears before their very eyes.
“I’ve had clients texting as they were leaving their homes watching flames coming up the driveway,” Creedon said, adding. “I think almost every single one of my friends has lost their home.”
“I’m on the tennis team at Fountaingrove and the women’s golf league and every single one of them, their house has gone,” said local agent Yvonne Adams of Coldwell Banker.
Adams said she and her husband/business partner Logan have lost three existing listings and four future ones in the fires.
Another Coldwell Banker agent, Cristie Marcus, told Inman about the attraction of the Santa Rosa area now under threat.
“Who comes to live there? People who can’t afford the Bay Area,” Marcus explained. “It’s way cheaper. My sister’s house in Marin is worth over $1 million there. In Santa Rosa, it might be $600,000 or $700,000.”
Santa Rosa has great schools, shopping and beauty with open spaces, Marcus added. “In Oakmont, I am surrounded by three state parks that are now all burned up.”
Hoping for miracles
Still, local residents and agents are trying to keep hope alive. Adams in particular saw a local news broadcast on TV that was filmed from the corner of her street, which made her think that her home might have been spared.
“It’s a miracle, if it has survived,” Adams said.
Marcus, meanwhile, is bracing for a “double whammy.” The residence she was renting in Oakmont, Santa Rosa, is quite likely destroyed. Meanwhile, her home in Wild Oak may well be in danger — the community is in the path of one of the many fires burning in the North Bay.
Still, Marcus said she was keeping in touch with anxious buyers and trying to reassure them.