Laura Pacheco’s search for a new home in Northern Virginia began with high hopes and a $650,000 budget. It ended in frustration and a blueprint to build anew in a small Maryland community more than an hour’s drive away from the District.
Pacheco, who now lives in Springfield with her husband and three children, spent several months looking for homes but came up dry. Eventually, she gritted her teeth and entered into a contract to build a single-family home at a new development in Eldersburg, Maryland. And although she’s happy her family will be able to stretch into more space, the process was maddening.
“We wanted something affordable that was move-in ready,” Pacheco said. “Not necessarily brand new, but something with relatively modern features. Everything we looked at was like $800,000. It’s crazy to me that we could build a brand new beautiful home in Maryland for less than the cost of an older house in Virginia. But that’s how the cookie crumbled for us.”
Stories like Pacheco’s are common if you’re living in the Washington region with modest means and seeking a new home. A tight, aging supply of housing stock and prolonged increases in median prices are likely keeping thousands of buyers like her on the rental sidelines or in their current abodes. A shortage of midpriced, market-rate homes, which range from $400,000 to $600,000 in the Washington region, is of particular concern for prospective first-time buyers or those seeking an upgrade from a multifamily unit or starter home — all as the region’s population continues to rise.