As coal industry declines, housing markets feel the strain - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

As coal industry declines, housing markets feel the strain

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RALEIGH COUNTY (WVVA) -

On Monday, Alpha Natural Resources announced that more than 900 miners may not have a job in a couple of months.

And as the coal industry declines and jobs begin to disappear, housing markets in southern West Virginia feel the strain. Raleigh County is no exception.

"800 houses on the market, real estate for sale, and what does that tell you? A lot of people are leaving. I know one public service district here locally has 97 empty houses," says Dave Tolliver, Raleigh County Commission president. 

A report released by West Virginia University earlier this year showed that various factors will cause a 39 percent reduction in state coal production since its last high point in 2008. The risks for the housing market lie in foreclosures as money dries up but also in the amount of houses popping up for sale.

"Typically when someone gets laid off and they don't have a chance of being called back to work, they'll try to get their house on the market and get it sold. Obviously if too many come on the market, supply and demand kicks in and that pushes the prices down," says Mike Tyree, broker owner at Century 21 First Choice. 

Both the coal industry and the housing market are familiar with the boom and bust cycle. Tyree says right now, the Raleigh County housing market is getting by, other counties are having more trouble.

"It's gone down some because of coal and just the uncertainty more than coal jobs, and then of course, the outlying counties, Wyoming and McDowell, they've gotten hit a lot worse than Raleigh County has," says Tyree. 

Tyree says low interest rates and banks offering credit flexibility and counseling programs are helping to combat the losses. 

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