Opportunities for home ownership, which now includes approximately 65 per cent of all dwelling in this nation, may be improved in suburban Maryland for persons interested in buying a new house. Sewage capacity for an estimated 10,000 new dwellings soon will be made available to builders who have been inhibited by sewer moratoriums in the 1970s.
The significance to prospective buyers of new houses is that increased construction of single family dwellings, townhouses and "plex" houses (with more than two units under one roof) is expected later this year and in early 1978 as the result of more sewer allocations in suburban Maryland.
Increased residential construction, while always posing a possiblity of overbuilding in terms of over-reaction to a strong market, should provide more competition among builders in order to attract buyers.
Competition already is strong in Northern Virginia, which has plenty of Sewerage capacity in most areas in the wake of builder legal action against no-growth actions in Fairfax County. Somehow additional sewer capacity was "found." However, some areas in the western part of Fairfax County need sewerage allocations before new construction can get under way.
In terms of the area resale market, which has seen prices hit unexpectly high levels even for this economically high-rolling area, there are now indications that some of the puffery is being squeezed out of the pricing. Listings are in abundance. And houses that are obviously overpriced are failing to attract buyers. Nonethless, a smallish three-bedroom (with front basement entrance and room) townhouse in Burleith (just north of Georgetown) sold quickly for $79,000 even through the modest dwelling cried out for fairly heavy rehabbing.
On still another front, a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-Fla.) recently held discussions on the "problems faced by families in affording to own their own homes." Particular attention was paid to the problems of the potential first-time home buyers, many of whom are young, in saving for down payments and meeting montly payments for mortgage, taxes and utilities.
More later about what might be expected from the Congress. Let's return now to the local scene and examine some significant aspects of a recent agreement by Montgomery and Prince George's county governments to solve parochial problems and also obtain approval of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission for a Montgomery interim sewer service policy and a Prince George's allocation policy for the Western Branch wastewater system.
In essence, more capacity for sewege treatment will be made available and allocations for new sewer taps may be made in the western part of Montgomery shortly after the 60-day filing period ends in April. Remaining sewer service capacity in eastern Prince George's is already being processed for distribution on the basis of prior requests.
Robert E. Brennan, the immediate past president of the Suburban Maryland Home Builders Association and long a fighter for more sewered opportunity to build new houses, commented that there are many applications already on file for taps on finished lots that are ready for the start of construction. He said:
"The cost of carrying land was hard on many builders, but now there should be no shortage of available lots and house prices should tend to level off - not decrease - due to competition."
However, Charles V. Philips Jr., who succeeded Brennan as president of SMHBA, commented that is may take some builders nearly a year to get their developments started after sewer allocations are made because of the time needed for engineering, grading and processing. "You can expect the market to show the result in 1978. Certainly, there will be more competition. And that's always an advantage for the buyer," he said.
In all area jurisdictions, the new house market has been gaining strength and 1977 has been widely hailed as a "good one for builders." However, most of the veterans are aware of the perils of overbuilding and overpricing that caused at least a score of developers to "go down the tube" a few years back. Heavy unsold inventory of new houses developed in certain areas where sewers were available during the moratorium. Now most builders start houses only after a buyers has signed a contract. Deliveries then take 90 to 120 days, generally.
In addition to the new sewerage capacity being available in Montgomery as the result of more capacity at Blue Plains treatment plant and the Seneca facility, there is also the likelihood that an interim sewage treatment plant financed by a consortium of 36 subscriber-developers will be in operation late in 1978 to add capacity to seve an additional 5,000 or 6,000 dwellings in western Montgomery.
If the private market for single houses and townhouses in no longer inhibited by unavailability of sewage treatment capacity or slow-down tactics by elected officials worried about fast growth, then the spotlight turns to the potential strength of the buying market and a capacity to finance new houses.
At the Senate hearing on housing affordability, Sen. Chiles heard that first-time buyers make up nearly half of the home buyers in any given year and that the second-time or move-up buyers usually can fend for themselves in the market-because of equity and appreciation accumulated during a first ownership. This latter group then takes advantage profit on a present home to move up to a larger, more expensive dwelling. These buyers can hack it. In fact, they have created a seller's market in Southern California.
In the Congress takes any legislative action to make it easier to buy a home and tackle what Chiles called the "current sluggishness in economic growth," the action can be expected in terms of incentives to enable first-time buyers to save for a down payment, lower down payments under FHA or conventional financing (possibly patterned after the long successful nodown payment VA program that has relatively few foreclosures), subsidized mortgage interest rates, staggered rates to provide easier payments in the early years of ownership or even an opportunity to borrow against a buyer's vested interest in a pension fund to obtain a down payment.
But don't discount the possibility of congressional action, with a boost from new Housing and Urban Development Secretary Patricia Harris, for a package of legislation that will encourage more young couple to buy solid but deteriorating old houses with the obligation to rehab them. Both Sen. Henry Bellmon (R-Okla.) and Sen. John Anderson (D-Minn.) mentioned the need for an incentive to encourage to people to stay in their own areas and fix up available houses by working with local lenders and contractors.
On balance, it seems unlikely that the new house will ever lose its appeal to Americans who have an almost endemic passion for that which is newly minted. However, if a trend is developing in the latter part of this decade it is a new appreciation of larger, often rundown older houses and townhouses. Young couples an individuals seem to find them good buys and alternatives to suburbia.
Already this trend has been demonstrated in many cities, particularly those where lenders look favorably on granting loans for the purchase and the rehabbing in one package. And more lenders conventional lenders seem to be recognizing the trend which could reclaim and preserve much of the nation's well-located housing stock and also provide ownership opportunity for families and individuals willing to contribute their own hard work and live with the disruptions and inconveniences of ongoing renovation and repairs.
Indeed, individual rehabbing may become one of American's dividends from it Bicentennial reinvigoration. Shortly
Northern Virginia builder Gordon V. Smith (Miller & Smith) did not go along with a recent proposal by the National Association of Home Builders even though it is his trade association. Smith decried a mortgage subsidy fund that would have federal support because he considered it to be potentially very costly and not likely to aid the lower end of the potential market. Instead Smith put his backing behind a proposal by former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, who advocated encouragement of savings for a down payment by allowing an individual a one-time opportunity to have up to $7,500 deducted from his payroll income and be deposited with the federal government. The earnings would be tax free, if used to buy a house, and also draw interest a rate comparable to that on long-term Treasury bonds. However, if the deposit were withdrawn for use other than to buy a house it would be treated as taxable income.
It's not unusual for a son to follow a father in real estate. But Simon Eichberg, who retired from the shoe business several years ago after he sold his store, went into commerical selling and leasing - but not with a the firm (Braedon) headed by son James. Instead, the senior Eichberg joined Shannon & Luchs, probably because he was a life-ling friend of the late Frank J. Luchs. Son James Eichberg had worked there earlier. Recently, the senior Eichberg made his first major sale, a $2 million warehouse transaction in Northern Virginia. Now he's on vacation in Florida and basking in his success at age post-65.
Apprasier Alfred Jarchow, who reports regularly on his analyses of existing home sales in Montgomery County, noted that 25 per cnet of 290 January sales examined were traditional two-story colonial dwellings with a median price of $84,000 Townhouses and condominiums apartments accounted for 21 per cent of the sales, with the median townhouse price being $51,000 and the median condo $34,500. Jarchow noted that the relative home prices rose only 3 per cent in the past six months, which is less than the 3 per cent for the past year.
House sales totaled 5,472 last year in Prince William County, and that's a 24.4 per cent increase over the total sales in 1975, according to Deed Fax, a realty publishing house in Manassas. That 1976 total included 4,053 resales and 1,419 sales of new houses, approximately in the three-to-one ratio of resale to new sales over the nation.
About 1 p.m. today, The Sky Is Falling energy store (1200 9th St. NW) will be showing off a solar-heated addition to the house of Margie Harris at 13001 Atlantic Ave., Rockville. The installation by TSIF features an integal roof collector to obtain solar heat and fans to circulate it into the pyramid-shaped room that is really an extension of the Harris living-room. When the room does not require heat the solar heat is blown across round river rocks (36 tons of them) under floor of the room. When the sun isn't shining, the heat from the rocks can be circulated into theory as explained by Stuart Perry who is part of the energy store team headed by Petter Boe and Robert Graham. Ms. Harris said that Roy Mason designed the addition and Estel Richardson did the work. Of course, TSIF designed the rock-solar heating system, which cost about $3,000. The total project amounted to about $20,000.
The name of the building that will rise up from that big hole in the ground on the northeast corner of 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW will be 1919 Pennsylvania. And Quadrangle Development Corp. is the developer of the eight-story structure that will have three levels of underground parking. CAPTION: Picture 1, NEW IN WEST END - The townhouses in the 2300 block of L Street NW, built by Beekman Place developer Lawrence Brandt, are said to be the first new houses in generations to be built on that block of the West End area. Two of the new houses, which feature two bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and first-floor apartments, have been sold. They are on the market for about $150,000. By Ellsworth Davis - The Washington Post; Picture 2, no caption, by John B. Willmann.