Despite burning an estimated 2,100 homes off of the inventory overhang, the wildfires that torched six Southern California counties this past fall will have slight impact on market conditions there for either sellers or renters of residential properties, experts say.
Although several regional apartment associations quickly mobilized members to respond to individuals displaced by the fires, the goodwill isn't likely to affect occupancy rates. “A large percentage of displaced people turn first to family and friends,” says California Apartment Association member Scott Morrison, vice president of Legacy Partners Residential, a Foster City, Calif., fee-based manager with approximately 10,000 units across Southern California.
Still, lucrative concessions to evacuees poured in. “LaSalle Investment Management out of Denver offered 20 apartments with six months free rent in San Bernardino,” Morrison says. “And most members were waiving application fees and deposits and allowing victims to move in immediately.”
Morrison did not hear of any multifamily structures damaged by the fires; nonetheless, the event was traumatic. “We are used to the wildfires, but I've never seen 17 of them going simultaneously,” he says. Donna Morafcik, staff vice president of communications for the Building Industry Association of San Diego, agrees. “We've supported all code change updates, planning communities to ensure that homes are built properly,” Morafcik says. “While these fires were a tragedy, our codes and construction methods are top of the game.”