Everyone seems to be fixated on resolving the housing market through direct intervention. However, it is increasingly apparent that people are forgetting the symbiotic economic system that housing belongs. Even local attitudes towards business may affect local housing markets.
First let’s consider housing data reported for October 2011 by Real Estate Business Intelligence, LLC and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), which indicates that sold prices for homes in Montgomery County decreased 3.2% compared to September 2011 and decreased 6.5% compared to October 2010 (the same time last year). And although sold prices for homes in Loudon and Fairfax counties decreased from October 2011 compared to the previous month, the median sold price for these two Virginia counties increased compared to October 2010 (an increase of 2.5% and 2.3% respectively).
Maybe Donald Trump knows something we don’t; the high profile real estate investor purchased a Loudon County golf course in 2009, and more recently a Charlottesville winery.
Next consider that some high profile companies have been making their preferences clear, as they choose Virginia over Maryland. Anita Kumar reported in her October 27th Washington Post blog (McDonnell, pursuing Lockheed Martin, says Maryland is less friendly to business) that Maryland has lost two defense contractors to Virginia. And recently, Virginia is trying to persuade Lockheed Martin (one of Montgomery County’s largest employers) to move there too; this courtship became widely publicized after a brouhaha erupted when the Montgomery County Council considered passing a resolution asking Congress to cut defense spending in favor of social spending. Additionally, Steve Contorno of the Washington Examiner reported just last week (McDonnell woos Bechtel Corp. away from Maryland; 11/17/2011) that the “International construction and engineering giant Bechtel Corporation” will move its global operations headquarters from Frederick to Reston.
Another consideration is the demographic change in Montgomery County, which may be one of the main reasons for big-box retailer Wal-Mart wanting to expand within the county. Reported by Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik of the Washington Post (Incomes fall in Montgomery and Fairfax counties; September 22, 2011), the once considered “posh” county now has a lower median income than Prince William County, VA, which is home to Potomac Mills Outlet Mall.
As the housing solution continues to elude many, along comes the National Association of Realtors (realtor.org) publicizing a “2011 Five Point Housing Solutions Plan.” The plan is a result of a policy meeting (New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis ) conducted by the Progressive Policy Institute (progressivepolicy.org) and Economic Policies for the 21st Century (economics21.org).
Looking more like a “five point housing suggestion,” NAR’s plan offers these recommendations: 1) Not to weaken housing any further; 2) Support communities by reducing foreclosures; 3) Open mortgage markets to “foster new demand among responsible homebuyers”; 4) Support for a secondary mortgage market with government participation; and 5) A call for a national housing summit to “articulate a new housing policy.”
Much like a doctor’s patient seeking pain relief caused by a systemic problem, housing relief through direct intervention may only be temporary. Although some have found the solution to a faltering housing market and other economic ailments tied to jobs, others continue to be confounded by the issue.
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by Dan Krell. Copyright © 2011