Realtors stay positive amid GM uncertainty

WARREN — Although some agencies already have fielded calls from GM Lordstown workers about selling their homes, area realtors are saying it’s too soon to know the effect the plant’s “unallocated” status will have on the local real estate market.

“It is too early to tell how the real estate market will move based on (GM’s) announcement,” said John Lacy from Farmers National Bank. “I believe the real answer will come in about a year.”

It was Nov. 26, when General Motors announced Lordstown, and four other North American GM sites, will be placed on “unallocated” status. The local assembly plant, as of March 2019, no longer will produce the Chevrolet Cruze, thus meaning the loss of 1,500 local jobs.

“I don’t think we’ll really see anything until all this is said-and-done. We don’t know any of the facts right now,” said Darlene Mink-Crouse of Real Living Volpini Group. “Truly, I don’t think we’ll really know until after the holidays. I feel so bad for everyone, but I think we need to think positively. It’s too soon to give up hope.”

Jason Altobelli of Altobelli Real Estate said “The biggest thing is uncertainty. This uncertainty causes people to not really make a move. I don’t know what we’ll see, but it’s better for everyone to wait-and-see. Plus, there are a lot of factors, like interest rate, at play. You have to be optimistic.”

The GM announcement was a surprise to Fran Cunningham of William Zamarelli Inc.

“… I’d hoped that GM would be around forever. It employed so many people and did so much for this area. I hope another plant will come in its place because I feel so bad for the people who lost their jobs, and right before the holiday,” she said.

Local realtors say the housing inventory has been low in the recent years, but the market has remained stable.

Yvonne Smith of Real Living Brokers Realty Group said she doesn’t think the announcement will have a lasting effect on the local market.

“Inventory is still low, so this will help build inventory for those who are still working,” she said. “Some people who have already been talking to us about selling their houses have decided to go and pull the trigger. They saw the slowing down a while ago and came to us then about possibly putting their houses up on the market.”

While most remain hopeful, others are still uncertain how the announcement will impact realty.

“In this scenario, we might see an increase in inventory as well as market time because now we need to find buyers. I think we may see a lasting effect on the area because employment is crucial and if GM closes, we lose that employment. It’s a downward spiral that could affect the rest of the area,” said Marlin Palich of Northwood Realty Services.

Lacy said the holidays bring about a slower time of year for lending.

“But overall, our purchase market has been good and there has been a shortage of inventory for sale. I obviously can’t say that the long term affects will be positive, but my gut feeling is that the overall affordability of our housing market will continue to keep us busy,” said Lacy.

“Come March, some people will transfer and therefore sell their house, others will retire and stay in the area. Hopefully, by then we will have a plant or a new car to keep people at work and keep people here.” said Mink-Crouse.