Letter: Phyllis Stakem, Dulles Area Association of Realtors

Editor: April is Fair Housing Month and marks the 51stanniversary of the historic Fair Housing Act. April is also an historic month as the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors engage in a vigorous discussion about housing and review the Loudoun 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

As a Realtor who has lived and worked in this wonderful county for the past 40 years, I see first-hand the struggles many face in the house-hunting process. Every day our association members work hand-in-hand with people through their emotional ups and downs of finding a room to rent or a home to buy.

Several people have asked why it is important that the County be concerned with housing and why a plan to increase housing development should be included in Loudoun 2040. The Dulles Area Association of Realtors has response.

Housing is a key ingredient of our economic prosperity and our quality of life. It is important to provide housing opportunities at all price points in order to have a vibrant, sustainable community. While the countyhas experienced economic growth, the supply of housing has not kept up with demand.

With low inventory levels, housing affordability challenges surface. In February, the average home price rose to $517,858, a 7.32 percent increase when compared to February 2018. The median price of renting a two-bedroom apartment is over $1,500. The month of February continued the trend of increasing home prices in Loudoun County.

The median household income in Loudoun County is $110,300. A family at this income level could afford to purchase a home priced up to three times their income level—$330,900—which is almost $187,000 less than the average price of a home last month. In order for someone to afford the average price of a home, they need to make more than $172,000. This month, we only have 21 properties in all of Loudoun County priced at $330,000.

A $330,000 home requires a down payment of over $9,000, over $10,000 in closing costs, and monthly payments of over $2,000. DAAR believes that these amounts and the lack of availability make homebuying difficult.Loudoun 2040 could help relieve the pressure of increasing housing costs by allowing for increased residential development, varied in type and price, available for both rental and homeownership.

The county has over 45,000 housing units that could be built under the current Plan. This number includes 12,000 housing units that could be built, by-right, in the Rural Policy Area. Loudoun 2040 helps relieve the pressureto build more homesin the RPA with targeted development in the Transition Policy Area.

The good news is that people love Loudoun County. Like me, they want to work and live here. It is important that Loudoun County provide housing options that can accommodate a variety of households, ages, income levels, and needs.

We hope, in honor of Fair Housing Month, Loudoun County will agree and help ensure we continue to provide vibrant communities.

Phyllis Stakem, President

Dulles Area Association of Realtors

4 thoughts on “Letter: Phyllis Stakem, Dulles Area Association of Realtors

  • 2019-03-22 at 10:36 am

    The worthy and critical goals of fair housing and more affordable options aside, the Comprehensive Plan as presented by the planning commission does little to “take the pressure off” building in the RPA because it includes no program to help permanently preserve land there (and therefore take the upward pressure off land values for the voluntarily preserved parcels). The housing study which formed the basis of the Planning Commission’s Comprehensive Plan proposal notes the market for more single family detached and townhome development. Few if any of the new townhomes or single family detached homes being built in Loudoun meet the $330,000 and under price point noted in the letter. There’s nothing in the Comp Plan proposal that would “force” these reduced cost options to be built. There are some affordable homes available in Loudoun, but they tend to be old, smaller homes (2 and 3 bedroom) and 900-1500 square feet, and generally are in the rural parts of the county, or within the towns. Developers are not building homes like this because they can’t make as much money as building 4,5,6 or 7 bedroom homes. So simply allowing MORE homes to be built won’t do anything to solve the lack of housing options are lower income levels. As someone who’s income falls far below the “median” for the county, and who lives in a home far smaller than the average, I feel like we’re being used in an argument where the proposed solution won’t really benefit the people it says it will.

  • 2019-03-22 at 12:26 pm

    Mr. Buona said it well as the Board of Supervisors were commenting on the plan: It’s too bad that this is falling in an election year. As Ms. Stakem highlights in her letter, the numbers are obvious. The Planning Commission used the best indicators available to use as tools in the development of the new Comprehensive Plan. To ignore the trends is to go into the future without proper planning. We can only hope that the supervisors will not yield to those who are calling to maintain the status quo. This plan has been developed by three, large, intelligent groups of people: The Stakeholder Committee, the Planning Commission, and the County Planning and Zoning staff. It is the effort of over 3 years of debate, deliberations and consensus building. I for one, hope the board will only make the minor tweaks that they need to put their stamp on the plan. I also hope that they will keep the majority of the plan intact as a solid plan to use as a guide as we take the next steps into the future.

  • 2019-03-22 at 4:13 pm

    Realtor Greed seems to be the Planning Commission’s creed. How about this doozy from Chapter 4: “Explore offering free or subsidized public land to developers seeking to address the
    unmet housing need in the County.” Are you kidding me?

    The entire Envision process has been driven by the idea that we MUST meet housing demand. What a crock! It should have been driven by the wishes of the citizens: containing growth and improving traffic flow.

    Envision was hijacked by realtors and developers, and I appreciate Stakem’s phony math and illogic which inadvertently illuminates their greed and deceit.

  • 2019-03-26 at 7:41 am

    Ms. Stakem, When I started reading your input I was hoping for a fair appraisal of how the plan actually is focused on resolving long term already identified issues. Low cost housing for single people (new teachers, new fireman, new deputies, new nurses etc) all of which prefer to live in the County they work instead of hiking in from West Virginia everyday. So I have to ask – why haven’t you put your organization on record requesting that ALL HIGH DENSITY APPROVALS BELOW ONE ACRE be ONLY for non-student generating housing. (singles and age restricted housing). Furthermore, as zoning is about to host hearings on zoning definitions why is the term “principal dwelling units” used to drive zoning when building approvals are based on bedrooms? Shouldn’t citizens be allowed to build four studio apartments instead of a four bedroom home on their acreage to accomplish this county goal? Why is it even fair to allow a 1/4 acre in eastern Loudoun over 80 times the flexibility to be developed over a 20 plus acre parcel in western Loudoun? Should we really believe that all the builders, developers and real estate interests are just going to go away once eastern Loudoun and the transition area are totally packed? As we watch the BOS (8 votes including the Chairperson) say OK to a new 3706 high density residential project which is clearly tax corrosive why should anyone believe the mix of high quality job producing commercial versus student generating high density residential is really being fixed or are the data centers just being used to justify more high density residential? The evidence of this is mounting and November 5th is coming.

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