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News 9 Special Assignment: The area's changing housing market

Updated: Thursday, May 1 2014, 08:32 AM EDT

WTOV9.com
It's no secret the oil and gas industry has had a major impact on the area, bringing with it many positives such as jobs and a strong economic impact, but also negatives like damaged roads.
One of the industries most affected by the influx of oil and gas is housing in the Ohio Valley.
It's a common call into the newsroom, someone telling us they've been priced out of the Ohio Valley because of oil and gas. You see, as workers enter the region, they bring with them a higher salary and per diems from companies that are used to pay for housing. That allows landlords to raise rent prices without sacrificing occupancy rates. But, while those higher rents can be good for landlords, it's leaving some in the valley on the outside looking in.
“Rental prices have gone up significantly because of the gas and oil people coming in,” real estate broker Laney J. Ross said.
Ross deals in both rentals and home sales.
“Probably 20 percent of my business comes from oil and gas on upper and lower end,” Ross said.
That's just in the last two or three years.
Brokers and landlords are still adjusting to the new market.
“I think all the realtors in all the companies are kind of shuffling and changing things to accommodate them and take care of local people as much as we can,” Ross said.
It winds up being those local people who are hurt by the oil and gas industry, getting priced out of desired neighborhoods.
What about the horror stories?
Landlords have been known to kick tenants out to make room for oil and gas workers, or are not renting to anyone who isn't oil and gas.
Ross hasn't seen it.
“I don't know specifically of people getting kicked out, but I know in some cases the rents have been raised so they are leaving. So it's kind of indirectly the same thing,” Ross said.
One person who wanted to share her story but didn’t want to be identified, said her frustration is at an all-time high.
She and her 4-year-old have been apartment hunting for 2 years.
“The rent is unattainable for small families that work locally unless you make a lot of money and a lot of us don't have that,” she said.
Before beginning her apartment hunt, she sold her house for $90,000, and she's seen first-hand the value the oil and gas industry creates.
“It's being rented for $2,000 a month,” she said.
Ross has seen it too.
“I know of one that used to rent for – a 2 bedroom, 1 bath -- brought $750 a month. Mid-spring hit $1,100. So, you have to think maybe a 25-to-50 percent jump on rentals.”
What can people do?
What options do they have if they want to stay in the area? One thing high rent prices have done is make buying a home a better option. Ross says many banks are now allowing smaller down payments. Depending on the home, a mortgage could be cheaper.
But, if you aren't in a position to buy, you can try to sell yourself to a landlord.
“They may try to go to some of these landlords and say, ‘Hey, I know you are getting more but those guys are moving.’ Maybe offer them a year or two year lease to give landlords stability.”
There are specific laws in place to fight housing discrimination so, if you believe you are being prevented from buying or renting a home based on those guidelines, there are options.
To find out if you fall under a protected category or to file a complaint, you can visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website at: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD

News 9 Special Assignment: The area's changing housing market


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