‘No need to panic’

Christopher Cameron
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Real estate brokers expect job and market balance in Pictou County

According to Pictou County real estate brokers there is no need to panic after last week’s Michelin announcement about cutting 500 jobs.

They have been through the ups and downs of the region and real estate market in the past. Job losses at Michelin will be no different, although both Sherry Blinkhorn and Susan Green don’t want to minimize the way that directly or indirectly affects families and businesses in the community.

“We definitely empathize and sympathize with those workers and families that will be affected by the changes at Michelin,” said Sherry Blinkhorn, owner of Blinkhorn Real Estate Ltd. “We deal with losses every day in real estate and what to do, whether it’s terminal illnesses or divorces. This is just another one of them. Not to minimize it, but I keep hearing the word devastation and I think that’s a strong word. Pictou County doesn’t have one business that makes the county run and over the years we’ve had many viable businesses transferring in and out.”

Both Blinkhorn and Susan Green, broker and owner of Coldwell Banker M.B. Green Realty, believe jobs at the Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility (Priestville) and the new Vida Cannabis facility (Stellarton) will help the county bounce back.

“We don’t necessarily think this will necessarily cause the market to become unbalanced, although it is too early to know for sure,” said Green. “Particularly we’re anticipating there will be transfers to the area with the new prison opening and the marijuana facility. We don’t think there will be any negative fallout in the market from this. It’s bad news for the families, but thank heavens it’s Michelin because they’re looking after their employees to the best of their abilities. Stora Enso wasn’t in that position when that happened in Port Hawkesbury.”

Green said they are always ups and downs in real estate and with jobs in the region. Her family’s real estate company has been in Pictou County since 1974 and has been through Westray, ups and downs at TrentonWorks and expansions at Sobeys. She said it was only after Westray that they noticed the impact in the real estate market because there was no balancing factor.

“I find that on the real estate end of things that we’re a resilient community,” said Green. “We do have a short-term impact, but long-term there should be balance. After Westray there was a noticeable impact on the market because there was excess supply and we didn’t have a balancing factor.

“In this situation we have some balancing that will happen, but what happened in the situation of Westray was there was excess inventory that carried over to the next year, which is when we got hit harder.”

According to Green there was a temporary decrease in prices from five to seven per cent in that year after Westray, but that shouldn’t happen in this case with Michelin workers being left without jobs.

Both have said their phones were a little busier than usual last week, but there wasn’t an influx of listings. At Blinkhorn Realty they were receiving three different types of calls.

Blinkhorn said she had those calling to say that since they had good real estate advice they were able to survive on their severance or retirement packages; those curious about whether there would be buyers if they listed; and those looking to put their homes on the market.

“We haven’t (had many looking to list),” she said. “In fact – I’ve said it several times and I’ll say it again – there is no need for people to be panicking. We’ve had at least a dozen or so calls, about half of them saying they were grateful for good real estate advice so that they can retire and maintain their living expenses.

“I’m proud to be from Pictou County. There are lots of businesses to keep the county running and we’re well know for looking after each other. Even in times of personal devastation Pictou County always comes through.”

In the Annapolis Valley, news that workers could be moving to their area is positive according to Lorna Fulton, broker for Century 21 Acclaim Realty in Greenwood.

“This could have a fabulous impact on the local economy and the real estate market,” pointed out Fulton, who has already fielded an inquiry from one Granton Michelin employee who has accepted a transfer to Waterville.

“It is a sad situation for the other areas, but more workers with young families is exactly what the Valley needs,” Fulton said.

Inventory-wise, Fulton says there are plenty of properties at a variety of price-points that would appeal to people coming to the area. She adds the potential for new buyers won’t only be good for the housing market around the Waterville area.

“People who work at Michelin tend to live within a 30 minute drive (of Waterville) so any new jobs will likely drive sales Valley-wide, particularly between Wolfville and Middleton.”

For those looking to rent, however, the rental market may not be as welcoming. Eilleen Floris, who owns and manages rental properties in the Berwick area with her husband George, says there is precious little out there to rent.

“I think people coming here would be hard pressed to find a place to rent,” said Floris, adding the couple already has a waiting list for the Brown Street semi-detached rentals they plan to build this spring.

As for when, or how many of the displaced Michelin employees might make their way to the Valley remains to be seen. Michelin spokesperson Deb Carty reported the company has begun working with employees to determine if “reassignment or relocation, or a severance package,” is in their future.



With files from Nancy Kelly.

Organizations: Michelin, Blinkhorn Real Estate, Blinkhorn and Susan Green Stora Enso TrentonWorks Sobeys Century 21 Acclaim Realty

Geographic location: Pictou County, Westray, Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility Port Hawkesbury Waterville Annapolis Valley Greenwood Wolfville Berwick Brown Street

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