An Age Old Problem

By:  Scott Pearson, Pearson Realty
April 2018, ENDEAVOR  News Magazine

Spring in Annandale    The Annandale residential housing market is sluggish primarily because of a lack of inventory for sale of either existing homes or new homes.  The net effect is a slowing of the number of sales and a rise in the price of homes for sale.  A modestly priced home in good condition has become enough of a rarity that competitive bids can be expected for sellers.

One of the reasons for our community’s lack of inventory is likely the newly popular practice of aging-in-place.  Older homeowners are being assisted by home care workers or younger family members to remain in their house.  This is particularly true when the house is one that does not require much stair climbing.

Annandale is a well established community with over 93% of the homes 30 or more years in age.  Fairfax County reports Annandale’s 2017 population at 76,029 people*, with the elder population (age 65 +) estimated to continue to grow another 7.3% over the next 15 years.   

Yet, despite the relatively high percentage of elderly Annandale residents, the number of houses that become available for sale do not reflect any wave of desire for older homeowners to move   either to a retirement community or skedaddle to a Florida condo.  Nor are they exchanging home ownership for rental units that average around $1,750 per month, an amount that is often higher than paying for an existing mortgage.

One obvious reason that people are aging-in-place is money.  Even a cursory review of assisted living facilities demonstrates that the cost of living in one is relatively high in this area.  Starting at around $4,500 per month and going up from there, many older residents simply cannot afford to move to an assisted living facility.  They have to stick it out in their present situation, augmented by retrofitting the house to accommodate some of the challenges of older age.  Another reality is that many recent retirees remained in their homes during the real estate downturn of the 1990’s, not wishing to give up tens of thousands of dollars in home equity.  Some simply missed their window of moving opportunity and now find themselves too physically challenged to face establishing themselves in less expensive jurisdictions.

There are other reasons why elderly Annandale residents might remain here. Annandale is geographically convenient to everything that Fairfax County has to offer.  With easy commutes to grocery stores, doctors & medical facilities, and senior day care centers, Annandale is a sweetheart location for its elderly citizens if they can afford it and can navigate the ever swelling traffic.

One challenge to remaining in their homes is the ever rising property tax adjusted annually for rate as well as assessment. Many homes in Annandale have seen as much as a 15% increase in their tax bill since 2015.   The County does provide some tax relief for seniors who are on a very limited budget upon the timely completion of an onerous application accompanied by endless supporting documents.  Courses are even offered to instruct individuals on how to complete this arduous task.  Other seniors simply deny themselves even basic needs since paying their surging tax bill is an honor bound obligation of this fiscally & socially responsible generation.

Finally, one has to consider the increasingly common event of homes being passed down to the next generation.  With the high price of housing in this area, many times a child who could never afford to buy a house simply inherits the house and moves in; and the house is never placed on the market.

At the risk of sounding a bit morbid, sooner or later these homes will be sold. Although aging-in-place may delay bringing these mostly modest homes onto the market, many Annandale homes will eventually turn-over when Father Time has his way.  Meanwhile, elderly residents can take solace in the fact that their homes continue to increase in value, even if not at as rapid a rate as their tax bills.

* Population reported is for the Annandale Planning District.


More on Annandale Real Estate

Median Sales Price of Annandale Homes

2010     $507,800
2015     $539,900
2019     $615,533


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