The Daimler Difference--Real Estate Boom - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/04/03

The Daimler Difference--Real Estate Boom

The plant in Vance, AL. The plant in Vance, AL.
The Martins' house. The Martins' house.
The Martins' new neighbors. The Martins' new neighbors.
A much more common site in Tuscaloosa County. A much more common site in Tuscaloosa County.

The expected DaimlerChrysler van plant in Pooler will affect many aspects of Chatham County, and that includes real estate. WTOC recently traveled to a town in Alabama to see how a similar plant impacted that area. The Alabama DaimlerChrysler plant is located in Vance, just outside of Tuscaloosa.

It's a sort-of old and small town. There was a time when there were only a few neighbors around, and those were relatives. Well, times have changed there as they'll certainly change here in the Coastal Empire. You can get a pretty good feel for what's to come.

Brand new subdivisions are going up all over Tuscaloosa County. For the older homes, you're bound to see either a sold or a for sale sign on just about every block. And land is being bought up too.

Right now, residents the Martins are in the middle of negotiations for the land surrounding their country home, but they say it's a tough decision.

"It's good financially," Debra Martin told us. "If we sell, we're going to get double the price of what we paid for our land. But also, on the other side of the token, we'll be moving away from here. We love this place."

Before the DaimlerChrysler plant came to town, there were only a few other homes along their road, and buying or selling was rare. Now, right across the street from the Martin's home is a subdivision. And if they decide to sell their own land, what will go there?

"Our property will probably end up being a subdivision and so we're in the hunt for property," said Debra.

It's no surprise. Especially to realtor Ronnie Whitaker.

"The economy somewhere else could be slow, it's not slow here," he told us.

Whitaker has been selling real estate all throughout Tuscaloosa County for 30 years, so he's seen the before and after when it comes to the plant. His advice to Chatham County residents:  "If I was going to build, I would build before the expansion came, because that's what's first going to hit. The price of land's going to go up. Then, when that starts, the price of lots is going to go up and then your subs who build the houses, they're going to be in more demand, they're going to be increasing their prices a little bit."

And since the value of new homes will go up, Whitaker says the cost of old homes will go up as well. That's what the Martin's are debating right now. Should they sell, or should they stay?

"When you get up and you look out over the lake and you see the sun rising, you know, that's priceless," said Debra.

Whatever they decide, just about every other section of the county is growing steadier than ever and it's due primarily to DaimlerChrysler.

Reported by: Dmitra Denmark, bdenmark@wtoc.com

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