Hot housing market in Martinsburg area presents many new challenges

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — It’s hard not to notice how fast the housing market is booming in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. Several factors, including the cost of lumber and lack of labor, are negatively impacting further growth.

Everywhere you turn in Martinsburg and nearby it seems like a house is under construction or on the market. Fueled by the pandemic change in lifestyles for less urban living, the eastern panhandle is a desirable place to find a new home.

“Buyers are buying. Sellers are selling. We do have more buyers at the moment,” Lola Cosby with Long and Foster in Martinsburg said.

Aaron Poling has experience as a general contractor in the region’s home building industry, and he hears the phrase “selling like hotcakes” firsthand.

“I’ve spoken to a few builders – large builders in the area — that they’ve sold, they’ve allotted so many lots per year and they’ve sold like three years’ worth of lots in one year,” Poling said.

Mary Dulyea with the Eastern Panhandle Homebuilders Association says things are moving at a frantic pace in the region’s marketplace.

“Appraisals haven’t quite caught up, so appraisals on houses seem to be lower than what the houses are costing to build. That’s going to take some time to catch up,” Dulyea said.

Once that appraisal comes in there seems to be a lag time for getting that mortgage locked down.

“Financing for the houses is a challenge because the bids are coming in higher than the banks are willing to finance for the houses,” said Dulyea.

With a 1970’s zoning ordinance for Martinsburg being rewritten, the market is expected to remain dynamic for some time.

Poling said Martinsburg has the advantage of being in a strategic location for home buyers with home prices that are still so much more affordable than, for example, those in the Washington, D.C. market.

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