Buying and selling

What affect does an announcement of a plant closing have on a real estate market?

Not a whole lot, according to Chautauqua County Board of Realtors Inc. member Steve Holt. Holt is the Vice President/ Broker Associate/ Sales Manager of Howard Hanna Holt Real Estate and talked to the OBSERVER about the real estate numbers at the request of Jane Grice, the president of CCBR.

Holt said a look at the stats for January 2014 through May 13 showed an insignificant change in the number of properties for sale compared to the last three years.

“For the first four and half months, statistically insignificant, like three to five houses difference in the number of houses for sale in Dunkirk. The number of transactions within the Board of Realtors is almost identical, which, to be honest with you, as cold as it was in January, February and March, it surprises me. It’s a nice surprise for that.”

Holt said he looked at the areas he thought would be affected by the Carriage House closing, using school districts rather than municipalities. Included were Brocton, Silver Creek, Forestville and Fredonia.

“The only one which is up a little bit is Fredonia, but again, it’s not way-out numbers wise; it might be slightly elevated,” he said. “We’re the largest company in the Dunkirk-Fredonia area and we’ve only gotten one listed that was a direct result of the announcement of Carriage House.”

Holt was asked if it was a case of people holding on and hoping for the best.

“We really haven’t seen a big increase or even a significant number of people considering it. I think we got the initial calls when it first came out and everybody said oh-oh. But I think it’s kind of, I don’t want to say went away, but we just haven’t seen a big influx,” he replied. “I find it interesting that we haven’t had more activity on it and I think that I would interpret that as a good thing, but it’s not what you would think would happen. I don’t know if people are able to find other jobs because I know that there are some other places that are hiring, people making lateral moves and that.”

Holt said it was nice to hear County Executive Vince Horrigan taking a pro-active stance on trying to find a company to replace Carriage House.

“The Dunkirk-Fredonia area, Jamestown, Westfield, you go through each one of the communities over the past five years, each one of them kind of had their own. Carriage House is probably a little bit larger name, but everybody’s had those and it hasn’t seemed to have affected our market very much as a whole,” he added. “I think that says a lot about the community that people do want to stay here. It blows my mind how many people we have on a yearly basis that come back here.”

Holt said it is different age groups that are coming back after three to five years away.

“You see some folks that are maybe a little bit older, retired and went to Florida, Arizona or Georgia, but they’ve come back. We also see a lot of people that maybe move away and as their kids get to school age they try to come back because they know, while a lot of people have different opinions about how our local school districts do, but on a national level we do pretty well,” he explained. “You don’t have to worry about your kids, for the most part, walking down the street to play basketball at the local park, things like that. Some of the things we think are problems locally, compared to what goes on nationally, we’re nothing.”

Holt has been in the business for 20 years and said the warmer weather has helped the local real estate market.

“Our next quarter I think you’re going to see a lot of catch up where sales are going to be up significantly, at least that’s what we’re seeing,” he stated, adding there were great local lenders.

There has been a change in buying patterns.

“There’s a lot of move up, move down. I think one of the differences we’re also seeing, people used to stay in places much longer than they do today,” he explained. “People will get a starter home, then they’ll buy a family home, and then when the kids are gone, like me, I’m 50, not necessarily buying the little ranch but maybe something a little smaller, a little less maintenance, and then in another 10 years we’re buying another house.

“I think we’re seeing more just movement. I think society today, you see people moving up, down, laterally, bigger yard, smaller yard, everything.”

Mortgage rates are another thing which are helping.

“I had somebody tell me (today) that it had gone so high, they don’t know what high is. The days of 17 and 20 percent, some of us remember those,” Holt explained. “Today it’s 4.5 (percent) and people are thinking it’s high because there was a time when it was in the real high 3s.”

Buying or selling, now may be the right time.

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