Archive for Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Gasoline prices little deterrent for commuters

Developer, real estate agent see strong residential market

May 7, 2003

Gasoline prices have been yo-yoing in recent months, topping out at wallet-breaking levels.

But apparently sky-high gasoline costs haven't been a factor for one local resident who commutes to Kansas City.

Sarah Roberts, who lives north of Tonganoxie, said the trade-off of living where she wants is worth frequently filling up her Dodge Ram half-ton pickup.

"It's probably $45 a pop and I fill it up every five days," Roberts said. "I wanted to move out here.

"I'm willing to make the sacrifice."

Formerly an Overland Park resident, Roberts pumps high-octane fuel in her vehicle, which comes at about a $1.66 clip.

Roberts, who has a 40-mile commute each day, said she knew commuting wouldn't be cheap, but also said the area was beautiful and she was happy about her choice.

A local developer and a real estate agent said they haven't detected any slowdown in the area's housing market. And while developer Curtis Oroke said gasoline prices might deter some buyers, he hasn't seen any real change in activity.

"Probably right now you're off-setting the interest rates with gas prices pretty much," Oroke said.

Dan Lynch of Reece and Nichols real estate in Tonganoxie had a record home-buying year last year. This year, Lynch said sales are up 40 percent. Again, fuel prices could affect some potential buyers in the area, Lynch said, but that likely would be more to the west.

"If you were farther out, maybe by McLouth, you might, but not in Tonganoxie," Lynch said.

The prices of homes is also a factor, according to Lynch.

"I think the Tonganoxie market is a market that doesn't have a lot of houses over $200,000," Lynch said. "I think people feel it a lot more."

If gasoline prices actually remain lower is anyone's guess. With success in the war with Iraq, numbers could continue to drop at the pump.

B&J Amoco's Terri Chop said prices were on their way up before the conflict.

"They said that with the war it was going down," Chop said. "I just never know from day to day what's going to happen."

Every few days, commuters such as Roberts will head for the pumps hoping those prices drop.

"We've been successful in the endeavor thus far and I don't think that they're going to spike much higher," Roberts said. "But I don't see them going much lower."

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