Builders, planning about 1,000 homes in Prince George's County have raised their prices by as much as $40,000 a unit since County Executive Lawrence Hogan announced he would try to stop construction of houses in the county that would sell for less than $85,000.
In many cases, developers have added space and luxury items to their planned developments without altering the basic of the houses in order to pump prices above $85,000.
Other builders have changed their price estimates simply by recalculating the inflation factor that they expect will prevail in housing prices by the time their projects are completed.
Hogan yesterday gave the County Council a revised list of the 73 developments whose builders are seeking revisions in their sewer hook-up status necessary for development planning, financing and construction to proceed.
Hogan, who originally recommended that advancement of 99 percent of the 14,000 housing units in the planning process be delayed, asked support for several other housing developments yesterday, including several that recently revised their prices upward.
Nevertheless, Hogan recommended support for a total of 545 single-family units out of the 14,000 proposed, thus keeping to his policy of limiting the approval of new developments in the county.
Hogan has argued that because close to 50,000 new single-family units already have passed the final stages of county review before construction, the county can put limits on new development without slowing the construction of homes.
The County Council, which has consisently disagreed with Hogan's development policy, will began work sessions tomorrow on the development proposals, and could overrule many of Hogan's recommendations.
Even though the Council may not follow Hogan's $85,000 limit, severall builders reached yesterday said they had raised their home prices in order to receive Hogan's approval.
"We reappraised our plans in view of the political realities in Prince George's and decided that the market does exist for (high-priced) homes," said Bill Fetsch, an agent for Carr and Associates. This firm increased the planned prices of 50 homes from $70,000 to $110,000 and received a revised recommendation of support from Hogan.
Fetsch said that part of the price increase in the homes proposed by Carr was due to the builder's decision to delay construction by a year, with a consequent projected price increase due to inflation.
He added, however, that Carr, following Hogan's wishes, had deliberately added luxury items to its houses and increased the planned size of rooms in order to justify higher prices.
"We're not talking about additional rooms or major additional amenities," Fetsch said. "But we might, for example, install a no-wax floor instead of one that needs waxing."
"We're trying to build what the county wants," said Jesse Teacher, agent for another developer who raised prices on his planned 220 homes from $60,000 to $90,000. Teacher said the width of the houses he is designing would grow from 40 feet to 44 feet, and that other "extras" would be added.
However, Teacher, like other builders, said he was not sure that the Prince George's housing market could support the higher-priced homes he is proposing. "We want to follow the county guidelines," he said , "but we have to build what the market will bear."
Hogan did not support many of the developments whose prices were revised to meet his guidelines because they did not meet other qualifications. But he said yesterday that the revised prices were "encouraging."
"As long as developers continue to build their lowest-price housing in Prince George's and we continue to get mostly low-income families, we needed these kind of policies," Hogan said.
"It's the upper-income people in the county who are having trouble finding homes. There is a superabundance of homes for low-income families," he said.