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Bay Area home gutted by fire sells for $1 million

A Walnut Creek home badly burned in a 2020 house fire sold this month for $1 million.
A Walnut Creek home that suffered a 2020 fire sold this month for $1 million.
(Melinda Byrne)

A Bay Area fixer-upper ravaged last September by a house fire just fetched a scorching price in a white-hot real estate market.

Posted for sale without cabinets, sinks, doors or even a living room, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Walnut Creek sold for $1 million.

The “dream house to flip” was on the market just three days and garnered eight offers, six of which were above the asking price of $850,000, according to realtor Melinda Byrne of Key Realty.

By Byrne’s estimate, a four-bedroom home in the upscale Northgate neighborhood of Walnut Creek, 15 miles east of Berkeley, would typically sell for $1.7 million to $2.1 million. The neighborhood boasts top schools and is close to Mt. Diablo hiking trails.

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The multiple offers did not shock Byrne. What surprised her was that one was below the asking price.

California’s housing market has cooled slightly since the start of summer, but it’s still hot, a result of low inventory and a glut of buyers. In July, the median home price in the state was north of $800,000, up 21.7% from July 2020, according to an August report from the California Assn. of Realtors.

No one was injured in the 2020 house fire in Walnut Creek, but its cause is under investigation, according to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesperson Steve Hill.

“Extensive damage from a fire has this house stripped to the studs on both floors,” said Byrne’s listing, posted on the real estate website Redfin. “This one is ready to start fresh and build to suit your style preferences.”

In this case, the fact that the living room and garage were burned severely enough to expose the wood frame, electrical wiring and plumbing worked in the buyer’s favor.

“What you did is you actually saved me some money on demolition,” said Stephane Dessus, a Bay Area realtor contracted to flip the property on behalf of an investor he declined to name. “The bulk of the house is still standing and in good condition.”

The investor lives on a 150-acre ranch in Castro Valley, 20 miles south of the Walnut Creek home, according to Dessus.

“The only time we’ll really talk,” he said, “is when we speak to see what is the profit.”


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