North Bay fire victims to face construction worker shortage

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Homeowners who lost their homes in the North Bay wildfires may find it difficult to locate construction workers to rebuild their fire-leveled houses.

That's one of the issues raised by the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, who spoke to ABC7 News after giving a presentation to the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors 2017 conference in Santa Clara on Thursday.

Lawrence Yun, Ph.D., says construction workers from across the country, including California, have been lured away by bonuses offered to help with massive hurricane reconstruction in Florida and Texas.

"With other regions of the country also facing a large shortage of construction workers," Yun said, "I think this rebuilding activity will be a multi-year... it may be three, four years out before there's some normalcy in the real estate market in the Santa Rosa region."

TAKE ACTION: How you can help victims of the North Bay fires

Dr. Yun says there also will be some short-term concerns about missed mortgage payments because of homeowners who have lost their jobs as a result of businesses destroyed in the North Bay fires.

San Jose mortgage broker Pam Foley suggested, "maybe they can create forbearance on the loan, which postpones the payments or postpones collection of the payments, but they should start that conversation as soon as possible just so the lender's aware."

Several real estate firms were busy soliciting donations at their booths at the real estate conference to help fire victims. Some of the victims are real estate colleagues.

Doug Goss and Jim Myrick at Keller Williams Bay Area Estates in San Jose and Los Gatos said they knew of seven Santa Rosa area realtors who lost their homes.

Keller Williams also sent a load of emergency supplies to help their colleagues.

Associates at an Alain Pinel office have raised $24,000 so far. The vice president of the Santa Clara County Assn. of Realtors, Anne Hansen, has made a rental property she co-owns available gratis to an elderly couple who lost their North Bay home to fire.

"I mean you're homeless, where are you going to go? And you're in your 80's, and you're breathing all that smoke. So they can stay as long as they want, really," said Hansen.

Click here to follow David Louie on Twitter.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.