By Kevin Davis
MCGREGOR - For Andrea Danford, selling homes in rural McGregor and others areas far from urban life has become a tricky proposition.
"Gas prices are just killing the market. It makes it really difficult to get people to drive this far to work. They'll come and look and they love the house, it's perfect, and then they'll go home and think it over and call you back and say well we thought it over and it's just too far from work."
Gas Prices Hit the Homes
The cost of driving to and from a super-suburban home, let alone heating and cooling it, is becoming too much for many. From Atlanta and Philadelphia to San Francisco and Minneapolis, prices of homes outside the urban areas have fallen faster than those downtown.
Danford herself makes the commute from the Crawford area to and from Waco. She's had to up the limit on her Shell card because her monthly fuel budget to showcase homes to potential buyers has gone from $500 a month to nearly $1250.
To make her job even more difficult, mid-range houses in rural areas like McGregor are sitting on the market for far longer than they were last year. A house could normally sell within 3-4 months a year ago. Now, it might sit on the market for up to a year. Some developers have left homes unfinished, with bricks strewn about still waiting to be used, until the home gets interest.
But not all areas are seeing times of trouble. Bridget Hattaway, who is a real estate agent for the greater Killeen area says that urban areas like Waco and Austin are seeing increased interest. "Condo sales in downtown Austin are phenomenal because the young professionals that had moved to the suburbs have sold their homes and they are moving into the city. They're buying these condos because of the cost of fuel."
And Waco resident John Alexander couldn't agree more. His commute? One block to and from work. Alexander thinks that others will follow in his example. "I think in the years that come, I don't think gas will ever get any cheaper. I think as people are making decisions about changing the vehicle they drive, they'll also make decisions about where they live."
One thing is for sure. If gas prices continue to rise and head into the "ridiculous" end of the meter, Danford will have to find new ways to entice potential buyers to give up city life.
"It would just be devastating for the rural areas, because it's already a consideration at $4 a gallon. I can't imagine if it went to $5, people just wouldn't make the 20 mile drive one way to work."