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The Pandemic Caused a Significant Rise in Home Sales and It Still Affected Renters

Randi Gonzales and her family were in a hurry when they discovered their 38-year-long Fresno rental was being sold. They ran out of time to locate another somewhere to live, so they moved into a hotel and stored their possessions.

Gonzales, her mother, two daughters, and two grandkids resided near Fresno High in a house owned by her mother’s long-time partner. The property owner died in late 2019, and his cousin first assured the family they could retain the home, but opted to sell it in 2020. Gonzales’ family was distraught.

“We phoned every apartment complex in town, but nothing was available due to the moratorium,” she added. The waiting lists were six months to a year long at every housing complex, and we didn’t have that time.

The family was given 60 days to evacuate. They were able to reach an arrangement with Central California Legal Services that permitted them to leave the house by May 31, 2021, without a court hearing or an eviction record.

Since they had no rental income, they booked into a hotel, which rapidly exhausted their funds. Since June, the family of six has been spending about $1,000 per week for a motel room with two queen beds and a pull-out sofa. They’ve been looking for more stable homes. If it were only adults, Gonzales said he and his mother, plus two adult daughters, could manage. And my two grandchildren. They had been asking every day for the previous two months, ‘When will we find a home?’ When will we leave?’

During the epidemic, many Fresno families were moved, and landlords took advantage of a booming housing market.

Gonzales’ former house has subsequently been sold twice, for $230,000 in June 2021 and $320,000 in October 2021, according to Zillow. On Zillow and Redfin, The Fresno Bee/Fresnoland looked up how many residents were evicted during the eviction moratorium just before their landlord sold the property. The moratorium prohibited evictions for non-payment of rent, but permitted evictions for property sales or contract violations.

According to Zillow and Redfin, several prior rentals have been sold more than once. The Fresno Bee/Fresnoland couldn’t confirm whether the 104 lockouts were due to “intent to sell.” These figures may be an underestimate of the number of displaced people during the pandemic owing to property sales, since they do not include individuals who were able to settle their case outside of court, as Gonzales did. On the other hand, the eviction moratorium doesn’t track how many tenants were evicted because their landlords indicated they would sell but didn’t.

He stated he has witnessed several evictions since the epidemic when the landlord says he wants to get rid of it. To be in violation of the law, a landlord need merely make that claim, Cortes said. To establish that the landlord did not want to sell the property, the renter must show the landlord did not intend to sell it, Cortes stated. No true moratorium exists, Cortes said, just certain safeguards for specific housing rules. “Landlords may also take advantage of massive loopholes. Orders for SHELTER-IN-PLACE increased home sales. Homeowners and landlords alike have sold due to rising house selling prices. Home sales increased quickly after the shelter-in-place orders were issued, according to Steve Flach, president of the Fresno Association of Realtors.

According to Flach, individuals began to value home more. The house and living space became pretty much everything: an office, a school, a playground. Home sales in Fresno County increased 38% between December 2019 and December 2021, Flach said, driven by strong demand and limited supply. For numerous years, Fresno County has had a deficit of inventories, according to Flach. In addition to COVID and shelter-in-place, “it has been a constrained inventory since roughly 2016.” According to Flach, about 1400 properties were listed for sale in December 2019. Around 650 properties were on the market and 759 were sold two years later.

Out-of-town purchasers from more expensive areas like the Bay Area and Los Angeles have contributed to the local property market’s depletion, according to Flach We don’t have statistics on how many Fresno County landlords sold during the epidemic, but Flach says just 9.5 percent of houses acquired in 2021 will be utilized as investment properties, which includes homes bought for a flip and later transformed into owner-occupied homes.

Smaller investment companies selling local properties and purchasing out-of-state or mom-and-pop landlords who couldn’t handle their expenses without monthly rent from tenants were among those selling their homes, according to Flach. It took some time to fill out the application for emergency rental assistance, even though the program existed. However, like with Ed Lanfranco, who talked with The Bee/Fresnoland in September, a renter may opt out.

PANDEMIC RENTAL DIFFICULTIES

Even though Gonzales and her mother avoided eviction, their struggles continued. However, due to a tight timeframe and soaring property rates, she claimed the family had to rent again. As a result of supply issues, they had to stay in a hotel The couple has been seeking for a place to stay for days and have found nothing. From Q2 2020 to Q3 2021, just 0.7 percent of Fresno’s rental units were unoccupied, according to the US Census. Gonzales said they’ve ran across frauds, prejudices, and high rental fees in their continuous house quest for. People have directed me to homeless shelters…

Gonzales’ quadruple-income family doesn’t struggle to pay rent. “There is a housing problem.” “If people could simply get over that,” Gonzales added, “I think we could find houses.” The family has also been duped by internet scams when they thought they had found a potential rental prospect. ‘Is there really nowhere to go?’ replied Gonzales. “We wouldn’t be here unless we had to.”