Bright prospects

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

When the U.S. economy weakened six years ago, Missouri was among the states that felt the impact during the first wave. But the Cape Girardeau area's jobless rate stayed low and retail sales continued to grow. By the time the rest of the nation began to recover, Missouri lagged behind. And this area saw some weakening in sales.

Now another trend indicates that new-home sales are softening in the Midwest, even though sales nationwide showed healthy gains. But new-home sales in the Cape Girardeau area remain strong, according to builders and real estate companies. Why? As one real estate agent put it, this area has a better economy, lower property taxes and better schools -- all significant factors when buyers are considering new-home purchases.

There are also benefits from a broad-based economy. Unlike other areas that depend on a single manufacturing segment or high-tech industries that sputter out, the Cape Girardeau area is blessed with several strong economic components: retail, manufacturing, education and medical services.

Thanks to this base, which tends to set its own pace rather that strictly mimic statewide or national trends, the Cape Girardeau area is able to support a solid housing market, which keeps new-home sales on the rise.

Last year, Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Scott City all had increases in new single-family homes -- a 27 percent increase overall. That a good sign not only for homebuilders and real estate companies, but for the area's overall economic strength.

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