OMAHA, Neb. — Uncertainty about Cabela’s future has already slowed the housing market in the outdoor retailer’s hometown of Sidney, and that is likely to intensify now that the company has agreed to be bought by rival Bass Pro.
The sharp drop in housing demand in the western Nebraska town of about 7,000 is a sharp contrast to what residents were used to before Cabela’s started reviewing its strategic options last year.
Last week’s $4.5 billion deal to sell Cabela’s raises questions about the roughly 2,000 people the company employs in Sidney even though Springfield, Missouri-based Bass Pro pledged to maintain significant operations there. The combined headquarters will be in Springfield.
Kevin Ross with Asmus Brothers Realty in Scottsbluff told the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2ddeNFC ) that the departure of a large number of people would depress Sidney’s real estate prices.
Already, there are about 100 homes on the market in Sidney, and construction on a housing development Cabela’s had backed with financial support has nearly stopped. The median number of days homes spend on the market in Sidney has grown to 109. That’s up from 81 days in August 2015 and 65 days for the same month in 2014.
“You take a town that size and put even 200 homes on the market, all at once, it’s going to have a terrible effect,” Ross said. “Values are going to drop; there’s going to be no one to sell them to. That’s going to be a really, really tough market.”
Of course, job losses would affect the broader economy in Sidney, not just the housing market, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said job cuts at Cabela’s could lead to cuts in other industries, such as health care.
“The spillover impacts will be quite significant,” he said. “It’s not so much because of the loss of jobs, it’s the loss of very good jobs.”