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Moser: Home Values Rebounding, Prince William Needs Housing Solutions

By Connie Moser December 15, 2013 7:00 am

4 Comments

In 2007, my nice, middle class neighborhood had begun to deteriorate in obvious ways. Tall grass was everywhere. Houses stood empty. Vandalism and graffiti began to emerge. Prince William County created the Neighborhood Services Division in response to the issues that were arising. I attended my first Neighborhood Leaders Group in 2008, with the hope that I would explain the problems occurring in my neighborhood and the county would fix them. (The county was way ahead of me!)

Most housing in Prince William County has recovered, but my home, here in Lindendale, while it has recovered some value, (from a high of $411,000.00 in 2009 to a miserable $136,000.00 one year later in 2010, to today’s current assessment of $231,000.00) that assessment has gone from being an acceptable median price to a value nearly $100,000.00 BELOW the current median price!

As I watch the birth of a new Woodbridge and the rising of the Potomac Communities, I’m left to wonder what will happen to my neighborhood in Dale City and others like it. I see homes being built in the 22193 zip code, like these beginning at $437,000, and these, ranging from $519,000.00 to $ 670,000.00, and I am grateful these homes are not tax negative constructions. (These higher priced homes pay for services like school, police and fire from their assessed taxes, ergo “tax positive”, as opposed to homes assessed at lower values are “tax negative”. 

Our home is now 37 years old. In most places, that is not particularly old. This page states the average age of homes in all the surrounding counties. Our home is twice the average age for Prince William, but age is not the problem. I tracked those values on Zillow:

Average Sales Price:

  • Manassas (20112)       $427,300.
  • Gainesville (20156)    $424,000.
  • Dumfries (22025)        $336,000.
  • Lake Ridge (22192)     $297,900.
  • Woodbridge (22191)  $264,000.
  • Dale City (22193)        $258,000.

Dale City, and, in fact, most of Prince William County, was built as a bedroom community — a place to escape the crowded cities. That is who we were. Today, with a population of more than 425,000, we need to acknowledge who we are.

We need to search for solutions for aging housing, aging residents, and aging infrastructure. We can’t just continue to build new, ever more expensive homes to attract proffers and increase property taxes. That is not working, as evidenced by the problems we are encountering with our schools.

We need plans to incentivize homeowners to invest in remodeling with low cost or no cost loans. We need improvements to our communities that engender pride of place. While I am delighted to see plans for the magnificent new libraries in Montclair and Gainesville, I know our Dale City Mini Library is about the same square footage as my home and yet serves a population the size of every other magisterial district. (Yes, I know, the Chinn Library and Woodbridge Library are regional libraries and we in the Neabsco District use those.)

Our Dale City Farmers Market has long been a blessing to our community and provided a unique experience since 1987. Last year Occoquan started a Farmers Market and Tackett’s Mill in Lake Ridge will be boasting their own Farmers Market in the spring. You can visit Farmers Markets in Manassas or Bristow. That’s great for residents of those communities, but what will the competition mean to Dale City? One of our only unique assets is no longer unique.

I am grateful for our amenities like the Prince William Ice Center and Waterworks at Andrew Leitch Park. I’m not discounting the value of the Sharon Baucom Dale City Recreation Center. It’s great we have a public pool at Birchdale, but none of those are bringing up our housing values.

I don’t want to whine with “woe is me” theatrics. I just want some ideas that work; some suggestions that will help and some acknowledgement that residents in older communities deserve solutions to the low housing values.

  • http://www.alborn.net Alan P. Alborn

    Dale City still has the biggest and best Farmer’s Market, Connie.

    • http://www.neabscoactionalliance.org Connie Moser

      Thanks, Al. I suspect you realize that’s not the take-away from this post. LoL

  • Thank you

    Very good commentary and thank you. Those of us in older neighborhoods who were comfortable and safe in our homes for decades and paid mortgage on time had nothing whatsoever to do with the bad mortgage/foreclose,etc mess yet our home values have suffered greatly because of the actions of others. Our homes look no different than they used to but just the fact that others in the neighborhoods have so many abandoned homes with high grass and graffiti makes our precious homes less valuable. AND…don’t get me started on the increase in crime around here. Its darn scary.

    One day going up Hillendale a couple of years ago I was stunned at what I saw and it made my heart hurt. I realize that if we were to try to sell few would want to live near those homes with all the crime and it was a travesty that it took an ‘act of Congress’ to even get the darn grass cut. I don’t think county money (MY money)should have been spent to fix up the yards. The mortgage holders should have been forced to take care of the properties. I have been in the county since 1972 and in this house since 1975. We are seniors and financially strapped. Heavily mortgaged and almost lost the house 2 yrs ago. We would be so much better off if we could refinance to combine two mortgages BUT the value of the house is not sufficient for the 80% refi ‘rule’. Makes me sick to my stomach. Don’t need too much more but the value is inching up at a snail’s pace and we may not be able to hang on if values do not recover significantly soon.

    Don’t get me wrong …I love PWC. I moved here to get away from the hustle and bustle and be able to afford a home but the bustle followed me. I liked it better when we were not so congested and didn’t have ‘affluence envy’. My hometown is Alexandria and PWC was considered the boondocks and still is by our northern neighbors….trust me on this. So we built upscale malls and large fancy housing and amenities to look like those affluent neighbors in Fairfax and others in the ‘real Northern Virginia’. They don’t care about us unless they need money for something. We pay high taxes like they do and have pricey new real estate like they do and we ‘look’ good on paper but we have none of their perks such as Metro. VRE and OMNI ride are adequate for many but they are not on par with a public transport system like Metro. Our taxes go for new public ‘perks’ but for most what do the new parks, ice rinks,etc do for us? Its like the county does not give a hoot about those of us who raised our families and established this area as a great place to live. In other words….those who have lived here since we could count the lights on Dale Blvd on one hand. Ah those were the days.

    • http://neabscoactionalliance.org connie

      Thank you very much for your response. The items you enumerated are exactly why I continue to work for older communities.