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Real Estate Investors Flock to Buy After Quake News

October 7, 1987

WHITTIER, Calif. (AP) _ Last week’s earthquake couldn’t send a tremor through the housing market, says a real estate agent whose firm has gotten 500 inquiries from people eager to buy property since the quake.

″We’re getting deluged with phone calls from all over the country from people hoping to invest in depressed market areas,″ Mike Glickman said Tuesday.

Although seven people died and hundreds were injured in the temblor that measured 6.1 on the Richter scale and in dozens of aftershocks, Southern California’s strong seller’s market appears to be unfazed, real estate agents say.

″This year is the best market we’ve had in many years,″ Glickman said. ″Virtually everywhere we go, people want to get into the real estate market, buy a house, fix it up and then sell.″

Richard Thornton, a Realtor for the past 23 years and a director of the Whittier District Board of Realtors, said it is probably too early to tell if the quake has had any effect on real estate prices.

Nevertheless, Thornton said, ″it appears that the bulk of homeowners who are damaged or destroyed are going to repair or rebuild, so no problem.

″There will be a downtrend in some cases where people don’t want to fix up,″ Thornton added. ″But single-family homes I don’t think it will affect a lot at all.″

William W. Abelman, who owns a real-estate appraisal firm in La Canada Flintridge, said property near a quake’s epicenter generally depreciates about 10 percent for about six months to a year, then returns to its former value.

″The people who are affected by it aren’t going to forget,″ Abelman said. ″But it’s the outsider who forgets, and it’s the outsider who makes the market.″

Fred Saenz, a real estate agent with Century 21 in the San Gabriel Valley, agreed.

″People are panicky right now, but six months or a year down the road everything is going to be fine,″ Saenz said. ″It might even be a good time to buy.″

After the 1971 earthquake in Sylmar, many home buyers backed out of deals in escrow, according to real estate brokers familiar with the suburban San Fernando Valley.

During the escrow period, usually 45 to 60 days, a third party receives the deed from the seller and payment from the buyer and prepares paperwork in accordance with terms set by both sides.

Once escrow has closed, then any damage becomes the buyer’s problem, but until then, the seller must repair the damage, real estate agents said.

In some cases, a nervous buyer may pull out of the deal altogether. But most real estate brokers contacted Tuesday said the only result they have noticed since the quake is a heightened diligence to ensure that buildings are thoroughly inspected.

″The sales that I had in escrow before the quake are still in escrow,″ Saenz said. ″Nobody has canceled.″

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