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Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 12/11/2012

Lower prices draw more buyers, renters to St. Charles

The commute to the District can be a brutal one hour or more, but the St. Charles community in Charles County is drawing a growing number of buyers seeking some of the lowest home prices in the Washington area.

Officials at the St. Charles Companies, which manage the 9,100-acre planned unit development there, say this year they’re seeing an increase in people buying townhomes and single-family houses in the community.

So far this year, 200 contracts have been signed by people seeking to build a new home, compared with 160 during the same period in 2011. Moreover, third quarter home sales for the community rose 43 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

“In the 12 years I’ve been here, this is definitely the best year. This is the best year we’ve had in the last two decades,” said company spokesman Craig J. Renner. “People are finding value [in Charles County] that they aren’t able to find in other parts of the Washington region.”

In October, median sale prices of existing homes in Charles County were about $200,000, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems or MRIS, compared with about $210,000 for Prince George’s County, about $380,000 for Montgomery County and more than $400,000 for the District.

That same trend is evident in the sale prices of new townhomes throughout the region.

For example, townhouses at Fieldside at St. Charles, an emerging community being developed by Ryan Homes, start in the upper $220,000s. Comparable Ryan construction at Beechtree Towns in Upper Marlboro and Towns at Dakota Crossing in Northeast Washington start in the $310,000s and $360,000s respectively.
This moodel is for a single-family home at the Fieldside at St. Charles development. (Photo by NVR)

At Fieldside, developers plan to construct 490 luxury three- and four-bedroom townhomes and single-family houses on 211 acres near the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball stadium. So far, 40 townhomes and 35 single family houses have been sold, according to Ryan Homes.

Homeowners will “be able to sit on the back deck of their home and on the front lawn of the neighborhood center and watch fireworks every Friday and Saturday” when the team has home games, said Renner whose company is overseeing the development of the community.

St. Charles in recent years has been building more apartment units. Construction of a third building in the Gleneagles apartment complex is planned for early next year, officials said. The complex will house 515 apartments when the new 213-unit building is completed.
Gleneagles apartments are due to be expanded. (St. Charles Companies)

The one- to three-bedroom apartments are 1,000 to 1,800 square feet. Rents range from $1,325 to $1,875 per month.

The development, Renner said, has drawn residents from throughout the region, including Prince George’s County, Anne Arundel County and Northern Virginia.

So far, about half of the 9,100-acre community has been developed. Officials say they expect it to be fully built out in 25 years.

Future development includes a new high school, natural gas power plant, a nursing home and a 40-acre retail center.

By Dion Haynes  |  05:30 AM ET, 12/11/2012

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