If you are living in Vienna Virginia, then you may have noticed the non-stop custom home construction boom that has been going on over the past few years. And, honestly, if you haven’t noticed then you really need to get offline right now!
2012 proved to be another record setting year up 21% for new home building permits in the Town of Vienna. Although not all of these new homes will be built (remember, they are permits issued) the trend is amazing and signals a strong shift in the overall inventory of homes within 22180.
Although I have seen luxury home builders buying homes to tear down (sold a few myself), I am amazed at the sharp 21% increase especially as prices escalate. Data from MRIS show sales prices from $1.2 to close to $1.6 million, but there are some homes exceeding that price that never hit the MLS. And some home owners are opting to have their homes torn down and having a new custom home built by one of the many custom builders in town.
In my opinion, a few factors fueling this construction include the rapid building of the Silver Line Metro, traffic and commuting concerns, a strong jobs picture with low mortgage interest rates.
Vienna has always benefited from the stations along Metro’s Orange Line which feature parking garages and bus service. The area around the Vienna Metro was built up quickly in the 1980s with town homes and detached colonial style homes. At that time there was abundant land with cows grazing (yes, I’m serious). Today the MetroWest project is well underway.
Land along the Silver Line is already substantially developed, but much of the land is under utilized or under developed. Since many of the homes in that area were built in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Tyson’s area has developed into the region’s job powerhouse. Drive any morning on the beltway and you will see cars pouring into the area from Maryland.
This traffic crush has been addressed by the new toll lanes along the beltway, but those lanes end at the American Legion Bridge into Maryland. As a result, many people are moving from Maryland into Vienna to be closer to home eliminating their bone-crushing commutes. Essentially, if you can make it home in time to coach your son’s lacrosse team then your life has a bit more meaning. Know what I mean?
The employment picture in Fairfax has diversified in the past 30 years from just being a government bedroom community. That fact, and factors such as 3.5% mortgage interest rates and large down payments have allowed consumers to support what the builders are planning to build.
Seeing this custom home transformation up close
When I remodeled my home in Vienna in 2004, there were two “new” homes on my street. Over the years there may be a new one or two built, but in 2012 they must have put steroids in the water because seven homes were either built or are currently under construction. In most cases these homes have replaced 1957 era one level rambler style homes of approximately 1,500 square feet. And with average Fairfax County homes grossing one of the highest incomes in the United States, these homes needed either significant additions to be functional or complete replacement. Today’s digital lifestyles also require better power and communications needs than were built into homes during the Eisenhower Administration.
Where do we go from here?
Although the chart above shows just three years, they are the years immediately after the great national real estate meltdown. The trend shows a bullishness that would impress any analyst, but remember that permits don’t indicate immediate activity. The face of Vienna Virginia will continue to change with detached homes getting replaced with new detached homes.
Home buyers in Vienna will have to compete with builders and investors who view houses far differently than a young family would view it, and home sellers will also have to face the reality that their home isn’t as valuable to many as is the land it sits on. A tear down home in Vienna will be eyed by builders who, a decade ago, may have not seen the potential. Lot selection doesn’t seem to be an important factor for most builders although it really needs to be for the future home owners.
At this point in early 2013 with inventories at low levels, it looks like another competitive year for builders and consumers searching for a custom home in Vienna.