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Real Estate: COVID and Wildfires

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Traditionally, home sales slow over the holidays as our focus shifts to celebrations with family and friends. But 2020 has defied predictions, fundamentally altering patterns, so home sales may not slow this season. Spending more time at home due to coronavirus, people are re-evaluating what kind of home suits them, and where they want to live. Remote working is suddenly common, freeing commute constraints. There’s a greater need for quiet spaces: home offices and places for online learning.     Outdoor spaces are much more important, as the Center for Disease Control advises us to celebrate holidays within our own household, or, if we choose to visit extended family, to stay outdoors. As demand for suburban and rural homes rises, the Santa Cruz region becomes even more appealing.

After the fire, a few homeowners began wondering if they still wanted to live in the mountains. One client experienced a cascade of events culminating in the decision to sell their home; they were retiring and wanted to be closer to their family. This year, price appreciation put them in a positive position – even after the fire burned their landscape. The property still had a zen-like ambiance, and was a welcoming, woodsy retreat. I wonder if the firefighters felt the spirit infused into this property as they fought to save the home and won. This family will be in their new home closer to family by Christmas.   

Another family tragically lost their home in the fire. While scrambling to find places to live, the family separated. They didn’t want to rent two places for years during the lengthy rebuilding process. We looked at all their options –  less expensive homes, fixer uppers, and move-in ready homes. We looked at large homes that could accommodate the whole family, and small homes that couldn’t. We looked at homes in town, and homes on acreage.     

Then, out of the blue, a large home was listed for sale right next to land they’d owned for years. After evaluating all their options, they decided to buy a larger home to be together again. I helped them write an offer, but they lost to buyers who offered 100% cash with no contingencies. Impossible to beat, and so disheartening. We asked to be in backup position, but I let them know we should continue looking at other homes, since few sales cancel.  

Weeks passed, offers were made…but none were accepted. Then we heard incredible news: the other buyers cancelled! We jumped into action, and step by step, things began to fall into place. I remember one particularly wonderful moment, chatting with the parents out on the sunny deck, overlooking the forest. It was so peaceful. She quietly shared how she’s coming to terms with the enormity of losing their home to fire. Her new philosophy is, “That was then, this is now.” Her wise words are helping me cope with the devastation on my husband’s property…

Once, we had to meet an inspector before dawn – literally the only time he had available. As the sun rose, we all fell quiet as a four-point buck wandered along the edge of the forest…then disappeared. 

Practically every real estate transaction has hurdles along the way, and this one was no exception. But together, we agents worked with our clients and were able to smooth out the bumps and reach resolution. I’ll never forget the sheer joy they felt when I handed them their keys. I feel privileged that I got to help this family move back together into one home in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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“M.C.” Dwyer, MBA, REALTOR®   CA DRE License 01468388

With Century 21 Showcase REALTORs® since 2005


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