By Rachel Wulff

CHICO (CBS13) — When nearly 15,000 homes were destroyed by the Camp Fire, real estate experts expected a housing crunch in the Chico and Paradise area, but nobody really knew how far away that impact would be felt.

Finding a home to buy or sell is a challenge not only in Chico now but Yuba city. The impact could extend out to Auburn or West Sacramento — areas that have a similar price point as Paradise.

Lloyd Leighton gave CBS13 a tour of a three-bedroom, two bathroom single family home in Yuba City priced at $275,000. He says Camp Fire evacuees are looking at homes like this because they are comparable to Paradise prices.

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“So these are homes that might need updates but it doesn’t matter because they need something to move into right away that’s affordable,” Leighton said.

In the last month, the number of homes for sale in Yuba City dropped from around 170 to 150. Agents are seeing more and more Buyers from the Chico and Paradise area.

Caren Zavala is selling one listing to Camp Fire evacuee who will commute to work.

“The wife, as a result of the Camp Fire, lost her job and the husband still works for PG&E… They are going to call Yuba City home,” Zavala said.

Camp Fire evacuees are being forced to extend their search beyond Chico even though the number of new listings there as compared to this time last year has doubled. There were 323 homes under contract since the Camp Fire started, which is three times higher than the norm.

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“The escrow we closed last week was a Chico resident who had sold his home to an evacuee, someone who had lost their home and needed a fast close,” Leighton said.

So will evacuees’ search extend into the heart of Sacramento? Kellie Dwayne doesn’t think so.

“Sac is a long way to commute. Our price point is different, so it’s an affordability issue, a hard transition when you look at big numbers,” Dwayne said.

Brokers and agents see a bigger impact in terms of rentals because inventory was already low all across the north state.

“Our property management company only had seven homes available before the Camp Fire. Today they have zero and a backlog of applications,” Leighton said.

Leighton suggested that evacuees looking to purchase a home inquire about an FHA203H loan which goes up to $299k. The loan is specifically designed for buyers impacted by natural disasters.


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