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Buying or Selling a House; How Much and Where?

Jennie Rodgers of CSI and Stephanie Gonzales of SECED

Jennie Rodgers, from the Community Strategy Institute, toured Baca, Prowers and Kiowa Counties, discussing the current housing markets with municipal leaders as well as local realtors. Following a morning tour of the communities in Prowers County on Wednesday, July 12th, she met with interested parties, at the SECED offices along with Stephanie Gonzales, Executive Director of the lending organization.  The meeting had been scheduled as an outgrowth of earlier Prowers Economic Prosperity, open roundtable discussions focusing on local housing issues.  The hope is, once a grant-funded study of the housing market is complete, it can be submitted to secure funding to alleviate some of the pressing housing needs in the county.

Don Filbeck, Sheryl Runyan and Sharon Wilson

Those attending the Wednesday session included realtors Don Filbeck and Sharon Wilson, John Sutherland, Lamar City Administrator, Sondra Angel, Executive Director of the Lamar Housing Authority, Sheryl Runyan of Runyan Incorporated, Eric Depperschmidt, PEP Executive Director and Angie Cue, Lamar Community Development Director.

John Sutherland opened the discussion detailing how the city has leveled about 45 derelict or abandoned structures in the City of Lamar over the past two years, adding, “We probably have as many left in town that should also go.” Although the city has no specific uses for the now open lots, Sutherland explained, “We’d like to see them developed, if possible.  A new home could help improve the neighborhood and property values.  Some of the surrounding homes are in pretty good shape, but if we could pull a ‘rotten tooth’, the rest of the properties along the street would look pretty good.”  He added that although most of the derelict houses are located on the northwest side of Lamar, others are scattered throughout the city.

Lamar Housing Authority Director, Sondra Angel, explained that under the USDA, she has 60 houses available for low income farm workers, but a downturn in local farms has left many of the properties empty. “The USDA is requesting an assessment of our situation,” she added.  The Authority also has empty units that can be used by the elderly and disabled.  “At one time we had over 300 persons on a voucher wait list, but we cleaned that up and after one and a half years, we’re down to only 60 and we have people who can qualify for the vouchers who don’t respond to interviews.”

Local realtor, Don Filbeck, explained how the USDA relates to his market, and added that from his viewpoint, an anchor employer is what is really needed in the community. “We have available houses, rentals and even trailer parks where there are vacancies, but a large employer will bring people to the area which will improve the local housing situation.”  He also noted how the community pulled together to help Gateway Safety Products, a new business which recently came to town and now employs five people.  “We need more situations where people were helped with their problems.  The City was able to help, Light and Power did some work on their electrical installations, SECED helped with their loan, and it all worked.”

Realtor Sharon Wilson provided an overview of the recent ebb and flow of home sales and purchases in her business. She said she’s noted an increase in ‘boomerangs’ in the area, former residents who moved away from the area while young, but now are expressing their desire to return to their hometown after being away for years or decades.  Wilson noted that over all, there are more buyers than available homes to meet their particular needs.

Sutherland noted that Lamar is experiencing some economic growth with new job and business developments, all of which can impact the housing market. “We added five new jobs with Gateway, the new truck stop could hire from 25-30 persons, a fast-food restaurant is looking to develop on the north end of Main Street which could hire from 10-15 persons, the new pharmacy on South Main is under construction and Pelsue on Highway 287 is adding to their physical plant for expansion and C.F. Maier Composites has undergone an expansion project a few years ago.  We can see the growth and we’re seeing it reflected in the number of new utility customers at Lamar Light and Power.”

Both Filbeck and Wilson acknowledged that the Lamar market is unique in some respects. He explained that location plays a role in a house sale, but, “We can have a $50K house next door to one that lists for $150K and that variation is strange to me.  Buyers are interested in the level of worth along a neighborhood, and it’s mixed.”

Rodgers asked about new, stick built houses under construction. The number has been very limited, but short of financing and market consideration, there are few impediments to buying land or building a home.

The study also involves one-on-one personal interviews and once concluded, the information will be made ready for submission to the USDA.  Community Strategy Institute creates profiles of city, county, state or non-profit organizations and identifies local housing needs, conducts marketing plans and develops strategies for addressing housing needs as well as developing grant funding. The Institute was created to provide fiscal and economic analysis to public and private entities for a better understanding of economic and social factors driving affordable housing development, housing conditions and mobility of low-income populations in a given region.

By Russ Baldwin

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Filed Under: City of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyFeaturedHousingTransportationUtilities

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