Stories behind home sales tell of a meaningful history

by Dan Krell
© 2013

housing developmentIt’s entertaining and interesting to take a look at the unusual and extremes of the housing market during the year that just ended. Besides some of the notable sales of this past year, consider the least and most expensive single family homes that sold during 2012. The stories of these two homes go beyond recent sales and economic conditions; they tell a story of suburbanization and the growth Montgomery County.

One of the lowest priced single family homes that sold in Montgomery County during 2012 was a home located on Sigsbee Road in Silver Spring. The home, located in Veirs Mill Village, was listed in the MLS (Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc) by Real Home Services and Solutions, Inc. as a foreclosure and sold for $86,199. Veirs Mill Village, a community that seemed to have its share of foreclosures in recent years, was built as part of the post World War II housing boom.

According to the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s “Suburbanization Historic Context and Survey Methodology” (, Veirs Mill Village was one of the largest post war housing developments built in Maryland. There was a housing shortage immediately after World War II, and a scramble ensued to build homes to accommodate returning veterans as well as the quickly growing Federal workforce. Because of the speediness of the construction, neighborhood aesthetics was not a priority; initially, there was little thought to community, commerce, or municipal services. Built to be affordable housing, the community initially attracted young families; the average age was stated to be 21. The completed development consisted of 1,105 four room bungalows, each with a 1948 price of $8,700.

Consider that at the height of the housing market in 2006, the average home sale price in Veirs Mill Village was $390,337 and ranged from $325,000 to $485,000. The average sale price during 2012 was $218,950. And although this home on Sigsbee Road was not expanded from its original 648 sf, it is not uncommon for neighborhood home owners to have expanded these homes over the years.

In contrast, one of the most expensive homes that sold in Montgomery County during 2012 is located on West Lenox Street in Chevy Chase. The 100 year old home sold for $7,050,000. The MLS listing stated that the home, listed by Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., was built in 1913 and was expanded and renovated in 2006.

real estateAccording to the “Suburbanization Historic Context and Survey Methodology,” the development of Chevy Chase began as part of the suburbanization of Montgomery County of the 1880’s. Although other Montgomery County developments at that time were priced for middle class civil servants (due in part to the Civil Service Act 1883) , Chevy Chase was developed to attract affluent home buyers. Chevy Chase expanded in the 1890’s when a rail line was built to encourage growth in a suburb that was considered inaccessible; and became an established affluent neighborhood when the economy flourished during the 1920’s housing boom.

The MLS listing and sale and sale price information is compiled from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (; the information is not an opinion of value, nor should the information be misconstrued as an appraisal. Additional neighborhood suburbanization and historical information can be found on the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration’s website (

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 7, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

A Look Ahead to Affordable Housing

As the local real estate market has cooled over the last few months, many home buyers continue to wait for additional cooling. The Maryland Association of Realtors ( reported that home sales in Montgomery County for total units sold decreased over the last six months as compared to the same time in 2005. Although sales decreased, the average home price increased about 1.5% during the same time period; that is until December. December 2006 recorded a decrease in the average home price in Montgomery County of about 5.3% as compared to the same time in 2005.

Whether December’s statistic is an aberration or the start of a trend, the fact is that many home buyers continue to be squeezed due to the lack of affordable housing. Additionally, many home owners are being squeezed as well as home maintenance costs continue to rise.

The Maryland Association of Realtors has been keeping a record of affordability in the form of the Maryland First Time Homebuyer Affordability Index (MDHAI) since 2000. The index is a monthly indicator of the affordability of a starter home for prospective Maryland first time home buyers. The index and affordability have a positive correlation. The highest level the index reached was 80.1 in 2001, which meant that the average home buyer had 80.1% of the income needed to purchase a home. Since then, the index has decreased to 66.8, 61.9, and 53.2 in 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively. The October 2006 index was 44.9, which was an improvement of the last six months.

Although the regional economic outlook for next decade is strong, other factors threaten housing affordability. A study conducted by the by the Maryland Association of Realtors entitled “the Future of Housing” cites rising interest rates, population growth, housing appreciation, moderate income growth, rising real estate taxes, and rising energy costs as obstacles to affordable housing.

It is clear that affordable housing is and will continue to be a regional issue. Although, federal, state and local government resources exist for home buyers and home owners in need of financial assistance, non governmental resources are being created to assist those in need as well as to assist with policy and research.

The Maryland Association of Realtors has created several initiatives to educate consumers about affordable housing resources. The Maryland Association of Realtors Housing Affordability in Maryland website ( provides research, statistics, and resources. The MD Home Programs website ( provides home buyers the appropriate resources and education to assist in the purchasing process. The League of Maryland Home Owners ( is a coalition of home owners and prospective home buyers advocating for solutions to the affordable housing dilemma.

Although affordable housing is not one of the top legislative topics for the new Maryland legislature, it continues to be one of the top areas of concern. The Maryland League of Homeowners has an open letter to Governor Elect O’Malley and other state representatives that outlines recommendations for housing affordability which include several business and personal tax incentives, statewide coordination of resources, and additional funding for workforce housing.
If you are concerned with the future of affordable and workforce housing, you are encouraged to go the Maryland League of Homeowners website (above) and sign the open letter to our elected state representatives.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2007

This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. 

Housing the Workforce

It can not be over stated how good the real estate market has been for many home owners. Home appreciation over the years has made many home sellers feeling financially secure. But how about housing the workforce?

Housing appreciation and home prices are not the only housing indicators escalating. There is an ongoing trend of decreasing housing affordability for lower and middle income families. Every year there are more lower and middle income home buyers who were edged out of the market or for that matter did not even venture to purchase a home, because home prices escalated beyond their ability to afford a mortgage.

Housing the workforce is an issue for many home buyers. Workforce housing as defined on the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs web site ( as affordable housing for families who fall between 80% and 120% of the median income for the Washington metropolitan area. In 2005, a family of four would fall into this category if the household income was between $71,400 and $107,000. Additionally, the county considers anyone who works in the county (e.g., police, firefighters, nurses, and teachers) and cannot afford housing to fall into this category as well.

It is clear that for many years there has been support for affordable housing and home ownership in general, as can be seen by the many state and county programs available, for qualifying home buyers. As a matter of fact, there has been an affordable housing conference in Montgomery County since 1991. The goal of the conference has always been to address issues related to affordable housing. The mission of the conference, as stated on their web site (, is to bring together elected officials, housing and community leaders, business professionals, activist, and others to work toward affordable housing solutions. The theme for the 2005 conference was “Work Here, Live Where?” and addressed the growing crisis of workforce housing.

The increasing number of families who earn more than the maximum to qualify for a Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) yet can not afford to purchase a home in the county are rising to crisis levels. The crisis has been identified by some governmental departments, yet others lag behind. Many commissioners who attended The Governor’s Commission on Housing Policy on January 2004 as given by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (see minutes from January 6, 2004) concluded that workforce housing issues should be addressed.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission ( has taken on the issue and generated a strategic plan as well as a web site to address the problem. Additionally, the MNCPPC created a program called “Housing Montgomery: Housing the People who make Montgomery County Work.” The program is to focus on initiatives that function to increase the supply and affordability of housing, improve data tracking, and expand community outreach.

The program development many initiatives, which include the development of a workforce information packet, discussion of employer assisted housing, discussion park workforce housing, discussion of Montgomery County Department of Parks and Planning employer assisted housing, and to expedite approvals for affordable housing.

Workforce housing will continue to be a concern for many years to come as housing costs continue to escalate. Hopefully, community leaders will continue to develop an agenda to assist Montgomery County’s workforce to live in the county

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2006