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Is there a Rockefeller in the house? Better be, if it's a house here page 3
Housing sticker shock continues to be rampant in the Fredericksburg area.

RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 3/20/2005

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

Here's a reality check for you: Fairfax and Spotsylvania counties have roughly the same land area, but Fairfax has more than 1 million people now, compared to Spotsylvania's 112,000. To a Fairfax resident, the Fredericksburg area is still the sticks.

Moreover, the current average sales price for a house in Northern Virginia is $475,321, so the differential of more than $171,000, despite the commuting trade-off, remains enticing.

The big losers here are the young people who are just trying to get a foot in the door of the housing market. The stock answer is that they simply have to look farther out, say to Orange and Caroline counties, for more affordable digs.

But that isn't necessarily so. Town houses in the new Ladysmith village development start at more than $200,000. Financing that amount for 30 years at today's rates will set you back $1,200 per month, plus a couple hundred more for insurance and taxes. To achieve the 30 percent benchmark--the maximum percentage of salary that should go toward housing--household income to buy that house would have to be about $55,000. Not exactly pocket change. Schoolteachers in Spotsylvania and Stafford start at about $34,000.

It's no wonder that the manufactured housing, with some new models costing less than $100,000, remains popular for young people who don't want to pay rent.

Many young people are getting family financial help in buying their first homes. Good for them, of course, but it's just another avenue for the market to get what the market wants: more money. And that only adds to the gap between the haves, and the have-nots.

We have an ample supply of reasons for the high cost of housing, but the demand for a solution isn't being met.

RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.


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