As Wildfires Rage, No Reports of Pros, Brokerages Affected

August 8, 2018

Even as California battles the largest wildfire in state history—a blaze known as the Mendocino Complex has scorched about 454 square miles in Northern California and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes—no reports have surfaced of real estate professionals or brokerages in the area being affected, according to the California Association of REALTORS®. Other brokerages, such as Keller Williams Realty, say they stand ready to act in case agents are in need of assistance.

Wildfires in California

© David McNew/Getty Images News

“So far, no Keller Williams agents have been directly affected by the California wildfires,” says Keller Williams spokesperson Darryl Forst, adding that the brokerage’s charity arm, KW Cares, will step in to help victims when needed. “We do have three agents’ families that were affected. However, after our KW Cares team reached out, it was determined they were in no need of immediate assistance. We’re continuing to monitor the situation.”

Seventeen wildfires in total are burning quickly throughout California. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, and thousands more remain under threat. “It’s unprecedented to have so many sustained demands for so many resources over such a short amount of time,” Jonathan Cox, spokesman for the state’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, told The New York Times.

Such disasters are becoming the new normal in California, where in the last 10 months, wildfires have killed more than 40 people and burned down thousands of homes. REALTORS® rushed to victims’ aid last year, when blazes ripped through Santa Rosa in October, then Santa Barbara and Ventura counties two months later. Wine Country—one of the state’s largest tourist destinations—was singed by the fires. (These threats also can impact investors who want to buy a vineyard.)

Extreme heat and parched vegetation from years of drought in the state are helping to ignite the fires, officials say. Scientists blame climate change for making wildfires more extreme. Warmer temperatures and droughts are lengthening heat waves, which is lengthening the typical fire season.

“Wildfires are potentially devastating to property owners and community members, and they can potentially lead to massive changes in the real estate marketplace,” Michael Tachovsky, an expert in real estate damage economics, wrote in a column earlier this year. “Property owners will face the decision to stay and rebuild or leave to start fresh. It is important for property owners to listen to their community leaders, talk to their neighbors, and get a feel for where they would like their future to lie.”