Wildfires add to Southern California housing woes

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The Southern California wildfires are causing additional inventory shortages in what is already a tight housing market, Redfin said.

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

"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," said John Venti, a Redfin agent from that area in a press release.

"A few prospective home sellers have texted me as they were being evacuated to cancel our listing consultation appointments. But these fires, devastating as they are, are temporary."

October's wildfires affected the for-sale inventory in portions of Northern California in the following month. In the city of Santa Rosa, November's inventory fell 27.8% from October and 46.6% from November 2016.

In Sonoma County, where Santa Rosa is the county seat, inventory fell 31.2% from the previous year. That caused prices to rise 15.2% to a median of $633,000. The typical home there sold at 101.6% of the asking price, the highest sale-to-list price ratio since 2013.

Nationwide, prices grew 7.8% year-over-year in November, but sales were down 1.3%. Compared to a year ago, the inventory of homes for sale was down 12.8%.

The typical home sold 46 days after listing, down four days from one year prior but 10 days longer than the all-time low of 36 days set in June.

"Overall, 2017 has been an uneven year for home sales. The year started out strong, but a combination of low inventory and weather events overtook sales growth; sales have been flat to declining in six out of the past 11 months," said Redfin's Chief Economist Nela Richardson. "The good news is markets have been quick to recover from severe weather events, even as challenges remain."

She pointed to Houston, where home sales were up 4.3% in November from a year ago, three months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area. Home sales in Tampa were up 6.1%, a quick recovery for that area from the effects of Hurricane Irma. "We are hopeful that Southern California markets show the same level of resilience in the aftermath of wildfires there," Richardson said.

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Housing market Real estate Natural disasters Hurricane Harvey Hurricane Irma Purchase Redfin