Friday, September 23, 2011

One Month After the Earthquake, How's the Louisa County Housing Market?

Before the August 23 magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit the East Coast, epicenter Mineral in the County of Louisa, Virginia, the housing market was already struggling.  Louisa County is rural, agricultural, and between Henrico and Albemarle Counties, where many commute for work, and has a population of about 33,000.

As of July 31, completed home sales were down 30% over 2010 (which had been greased w/homebuyer tax credit): 104 in 2010 v. 74 in 2011.  It's an area that has seen home prices decline and many foreclosures.
  • There are currently 212 homes on the market, ranging from the modest mid-five figures to a 500 acre spread w/ ca 1850 home for $2,895,000.
  • Between 8/23 and 9/23, 16 homes went under contract.
  • This is 50% less than last year at the same time, which saw 30 homes go to contract.
  • However, pending sales were also low in May, June, July  (see "pending" on chart at bottom).  8/23 to 9/23 overlaps two calendar months.
But is it the tough economy--we've never left Recession--or these factors impacting home sales? 
  1. Major Earthquake and continuing aftershocks from a previously unknown fault.  Since earthquakes are unpredictable, there's no guarantee that there won't be more seismic activity, since Louisa is in the Virginia Seismic Zone.
  2. Nuclear Activists continue to call the safety of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant into question.  It has not been restarted.  There are 8 miles of underground pipes.  The NRC continues its surveys at the plant.
  3. Schooling: condemned High School and elementary school have resulted in shuffling and sharing.
Then again, any buyer who's concerned about #1 and #2 is going to cross off Western Henrico and Eastern Albemarle as viable places to live, including Keswick and Glenmore.

Louisa's numbers:
 Chart is copyright Charlottesville Real Estate Talk.

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