As of late Monday home builders were still assessing the damage from the weekend fires in Malibu, Calif., that destroyed 53 homes and damaged another 34.
The state Office of Emergency Services (OES) said the Malibu fire, which was caused by an undetermined human intervention, was 90 percent contained by 1 p.m. eastern time Monday.
An OES official said the Santa Ana winds spread the fires across 4,901 acres, causing 10,000 to 14,000 people to be evacuated over the weekend. Eight firefighters were injured and not one civilian injury or death was reported.
The victims of the Malibu fires are also eligible for state and federal disaster assistance, as are the more than 2,000 households that lost their homes during the wildfires throughout Southern California last month.
Donna Morafcik, staff vice president for communications at the BIA of San Diego, said at least 12 home builders reached out right away to help rebuild the region -- roughly four times as many as after the 2003 fires. She said the San Diego BIA is printing 2,000 copies of its Rebuilding Guide as a service to homeowners.
"People need to know that the city and county have a joint contract for clearing out the lots where homes were destroyed," said Morafcik, who pointed out that homeowners with insurance must first put in a claim and the city or county will pay the difference of what the insurance company does not cover. But, the local governments will pay to clear lots even if the homeowner lacks insurance.
"We're also using our Web site to provide a portal for our members to advertise information," she added.
San Diego builders like Barratt American are already moving forward. Mick Pattinson, the company's CEO, said Barratt received about 55 inquiries from homeowners thus far and was finalizing rebuilding contracts with two families.
"The rebuilding effort should happen much faster this time," said Pattinson. "I think there's a realization among government officials that last time it didn't go well and they are watching it very closely," he concluded.
RWR Homes also announced a buyer incentive plan throughout the San Diego region.
According to Bill Rheinschild, CEO of RWR Homes, under the incentive plan, buyers who want to get back into a home as quickly as possible will receive up to six months deferred payment and a rate buy-down through Countrywide Home Loans; a $25,000 design center furniture package; up to $4,500 towards monthly temporary housing expenses; and a lease-to-own option. According to Don MacLean, vice president of operations for RWR Homes, the company has 20 homes available immediately.
So far, MacLean says, response has been good. "We got a couple of inquiries this weekend," he noted.
The builder isn't expecting a mad rush of buyers just yet; after all, some people are still dealing with the reality of losing nearly everything they had.
"A lot of [the fire victims] are still in shock, understandably, and still trying sort out stuff with their insurance company. It is a lot for them to digest or comprehend," MacLean concluded.