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Rural life is chance to grow our region

Warren County’s population has been in decline for nearly 40 years. According to the most recent U.S. Census projections, our current population is around 39,190 — about 8,259 less than in 1980.

An article last week by reporter Jay Young in The Post-Journal on the Chautauqua County real-estate market provided some hope for today and the future for this area. Consider this comment from Steve Holt, owner of Howard Hanna Holt Real Estate: “Our market has definitely gotten stronger over the last three or four years, but we’re in a situation now with the low inventory where we are seeing multiple offers, we’re seeing people paying above the asking price. It has gotten to be a normal situation,” he said. “People are less afraid to pay a little bit more because interest rates are so low right now. I think part of the recent demand has been, people have spent three months in their homes, and found all of the shortcomings of their existing homes.”

Recent figures back this up. According to the article, an Upstate New York Real Estate Information Systems report for Chautauqua County noted a 31.7% decrease in inventory of homes for sale in June this year — a drop from 578 in 2019 to 395 this year. There also has been a 10% increase in the median sales price, up from $90,000 in 2019 to $99,750, and a 4% increase in average sales price.

Why could homes be in short supply here? No matter what your thoughts about the coronavirus, there is no question that rural areas have been touched much less than the metropolitan regions.

Consider Pennsylvania alone. Through Thursday, there were a reported 121,000 infections of the virus since March. The areas impacted the most? The big cities of Philadelphia and Pittburgh. Just the counties surrounding those cities make up around 83,000 COVID-19 cases — or 69 percent of the state’s total.

In this era of uncertainty, that breakdown is significant.

The unfortunate lockdowns from March to May are easier to maneuver in rural settings. There’s not the density of people in Warren that there is in the big cities and our natural gems provide for plenty of leisure activities.

As for the housing market, during the month of July — according to the weekly reports published in the Times Observer — there has been 31 significant homes sales. Those under $10,000 were not considered in this survey.

All told, the average sale price for a Warren County home from July 10 to 27 was $108,300. That is a positive note to those who are on the outside looking in at what our community has to offer in terms of quality of life.

In times like these, home sure is sweet.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111.

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