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New home building slumps

By Kaitlin Mayhew -- kmayhew@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- This year's new home construction numbers are estimated to continue a two-year slump that has been the worst that Warren County has seen in 30 years.

According to a permit graph put together by Warren County, 51 new houses were constructed in 2010 in Front Royal and county, compared with 425 in 2004, which was the highest year on record.

County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley said 2010 was the slowest year since the county started keeping records, and 2011 doesn't look like it will end the streak.

From January until Sept. 30, 42 new houses were started, and with the weather cooling down, Stanley doesn't think the number will increase by much more.

"I think we are going to be lucky to get to [2010's total number]," he said. "We could do more than 2010, but usually once it starts getting cold you don't see as many new home starts."

Spring and summer are the biggest months for home construction, and this year, Warren County had a productive August with 12 home starts. That number alone was higher than the first and second quarters of the year, which include three months each.

Stanley said that one of the reasons new home construction is down so much is the large number of foreclosed houses available on the market in the town and county.

"That, coupled with the low demand for new homes, has a lot to do with it," he said.

He also said that in 2004, when the demand was high, commuter influx "definitely had a lot to do with it."

"Housing prices in Northern Virginia were so inflated, people were having to come out here to get something with an acre or half-acre yard for a decent price," he said.

However, since then, fuel prices have risen significantly, which influenced commuters' decisions to move farther from their employers, he said.

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