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Natural Disasters Slow Relief For Sacramento's Strained Housing Market

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Builders say recent natural disasters may be further slowing down Sacramento's construction boom.

Contractors are stretched thin as is, and new roadblocks may mean people looking for a place to live will have to wait.

The wildfires that ripped through northern California were the deadliest and most destructive in state history. But two months later, the raging inferno isn't done wreaking havoc.

This time, it's on new home construction.

"We're about six and a half months behind, said BlackPine Communities Developer Michael Paris.

His brownstone project in Midtown Sacramento is one of several housing developments, behind schedule, and a labor shortage is to blame.

"We don't have options to find new plumbers and framers. We have to go with who's available and has the capacity to work in the industry right now," he said.

Paris says the problem started during the 2008 Great Recession. Contractors and tradesmen and women left the industry. Now, the ones left are going where the jobs are—in regions ravaged by fire.

Just this week, the state's top insurance regulator estimated the insured losses from Napa and Sonoma fires $9 billion. That's tens of thousands of new homes and businesses that need rebuilding, all while the red-hot housing market waits.

"It's certainly going to allow fewer opportunities for people to have a chance to move into a home," said Paris.

His units aren't yet complete, but the majority are already sold.
And realtors, are struggling to meet demand.

"I have more new construction in contract now than I've ever had… but I'm finding that once we get into contract, it's taking longer to close those transactions," said Elizabeth Axelgard of Keller Williams Realty.

She says the Sacramento market only has "a month and a half" supply of homes for sale.

But as competition heats up, and burn -zones spur new growth... she hopes more construction workers will get in on the action.

"Somebody needs to start a new construction what we need!," she said.

While construction schools do exist, they're not always an easy sell.

A recent study found that only three percent of career-driven, young people were interested in the industry.

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