Lordstown Projects Draw Residential Developers

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — Economic development news in the Lordstown area has gotten national attention the last few years, including from residential real estate developers.

Two parcels off Palmyra Road recently transferred are being prepared for residential development, says Dan Crouse, an agent with Platz Realty Group, Canfield. One is a 130-plus-acre parcel owned by Mala Properties Limited. The other is about 104 acres held by Bruner Land Co.

Bruner bought the property in March for $443,000 from Robin L. Kuzenko and Kimberly J. Dillon. It comprises four parcels, according to the Trumbull County Auditor website.

Crouse and his wife, Darlene Mink Crouse, a real estate agent with Real Living Volpini Realty Group in Howland, facilitated the sale of the property. The Bruner property has water and sewer, which makes the property “extremely attractive” for residential development because buyers won’t need to deal with wells and septic systems, Crouse says.

But the fact that it’s happening is what makes the project so significant, he says.

“That may be the first large division of land in Trumbull County in 15 years,” Crouse says.

Bruner looks to develop lots of a few acres each, on which buyers can build however they like, says David Carpenter, an accredited land consultant with the agency based in Byesville. For more than 30 years, the family-owned Bruner has bought and sold large-parcel properties for the purposes of subdividing them into residential sites or recreational lots, he says.

“I think about 50% of my clientele are rural guys. They’re hunters,” Carpenter says. “I have a nice list of people that always call and check with me – some investors and stuff like that.”

For about 25 years, Carpenter has dealt with large rural tracts, which is in high demand among investors and developers, he says. Carpenter attributes that trend in part to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think everyone who ever roughly had an idea that they were going to move out of the city and get into the country, 2020 showed them that now’s the time to do that,” he says. “So, any property we could buy, we just did. And people are buying up property in droves.”

Last year, Bruner Land sold 80% of its property, he says. Carpenter has worked with the Crouses on earlier deals. So when they gave him the tip on the Lordstown property, he jumped at it, he says.

“I’m hot on this area,” Carpenter says. “I mean, look at the jobs being added here and stuff like that.”

The Bruner Land property is a short drive from major economic development projects, including TJX, Ultium and Lordstown Motors.

The property is a short drive from the new TJX HomeGoods distribution center, the Ultium Cells LLC electric vehicle battery plant and Lordstown Motors Corp. As those employers continue to ramp up hiring, Crouse expects any new house construction will get plenty of attention.

“When people come into the area to take a job, they’re always interested in the housing stock,” he says. “And newer housing stock intrigues them far more than older housing stock. If you don’t have new homes to sell, you’re out of luck.”

And now is the time to buy, adds Mink-Crouse. Workers coming into the area are buying whatever properties are available. And houses in Lordstown are selling just as quickly as those in Warren and elsewhere, she says.

“We have been busier now than we have been in years,” Mink-Crouse says. “Now, everyone wants to buy because they can buy a lot more house for less money.”

As of June 18, mortgage rates in Ohio were 3.19% for a 30-year fixed, 2.42% for a 15-year fixed and 4.12% for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage, according to Bankrate.com.

Ranch houses are the most popular among buyers, Mink-Crouse says. And younger buyers opt more for new houses.

“They don’t want to go through the trouble of redoing an older home,” she says. “Most younger people don’t have the time or knowledge to do it themselves. And it costs a lot to hire and get it done.”

What buyers decide to build remains to be seen, says Bruner’s Carpenter. The trend has been to get away from the bigger houses that were popular a few years ago. Ultimately it depends on the tastes and the budget of the first few to be built, he says.

“I find it fascinating. Oftentimes, you’ll get the first house and then the second house and it kind of sets a trend,” he says. “You’ll see that the fourth and fifth houses all kind of follow suit.”

Carpenter doesn’t expect any ground to be broken until next season, however. When Bruner first bought the property, the company was told there were three to six acres of wetlands. “But it turned out to be more than that,” he says. The village of Lordstown required a wetland mitigation survey to be completed, which extended the timeline.

As the project proceeds, Bruner looks to subdivide the four parcels into about 20. It won’t happen right away, Carpenter says. Legally, the company can break out only five lots annually, he says.

“We kind of have to do this in a step by step process,” Carpenter says. “So we’re just going to have two other larger lots right here for now. The next year, we’ll do some further subdividing.”

Eventually, Bruner will divide the lots into smaller ones. “And then I think people will start buying them and hopefully build on them,” he says.

Carpenter expects the houses built on the property will be in the mid to upper price range, possibly beginning at $150,000, he says. A farmhouse on the property was recently bought, he says.

Pictured: Bruner Land Co. is developing 104 rural acres in the Lordstown area for residential real estate.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.