Looking at the news I see the ten most expensive markets in real estate with New York being at the top and I start to wonder how my good ol gold and blue state of West Virginia is doing? Now, NY City is always doing very well in attractive qualities for investment but how do they continue to place the WV real estate market so low?
Everyone living here knows that West Virginia is NOT a bunch of back wood hill billies and that there are actually more rednecks in Pennsylvania than WV (kidding, maybe I’ll take a survey at the end of this asking who thinks more backwood hill people live in Western, PA, NY State, or West Virginia and we will see by popular vote who wins… I always vote New York State) but WV got the stigma so I guess we live with it. Inhabitants of the state also know there ARE towns in WV that are quite scary for our one tooth inhabitants and it doesn’t help that our state looks a little bit like a pork chop on the map BUT to off set the craziness of there being some hillbillies we also have larger cities that actually have a lot of cultural diversity, are smart, safe, beautiful, places to live and raise families, like Teays Valley, Morgantown, Winfield, Bridgeport, to name just a few. You can check out a comprehensive list of the best cities in WV to live in here http://www.areavibes.com/best-places/west+virginia/
That said, I think it’s safe to say that different cities are going to be night and day when analyzing real estate growth in West Virginia. My experience in Morgantown, WV, which is where I have resided for twenty plus year so I consider myself skilled in watching the growth here, is I have seen the real estate growth be positive for so long that it simply amazes me by what I read about how bad off we are. I guess the University and hospitals bring in enough income and employment that they keep our real estate investments not only holding steady but even growing despite economic failings elsewhere in the country.
Scouring the internet for lists of the wealthiest states and comparing the results to other findings seems to put West Virginia towards the bottom of the list. Anywhere from 38 to 48 depending on the source so I think it’s safe to say we are thought of as towards the bottom, but let’s think about a few things here, our median income has remained stable for the past 5 years at around 50k, meaning somehow the state has dodged an economic roller coaster like other parts of the county. Our real estate has also held stable in many areas of the state and I can say from real life encounters of the homes selling in Morgantown that the homes are selling for a lot more than what is expected. So much that people moving from other areas such as Florida, NY State (nudge, nudge), and other seemingly great areas, are a little disappointed when they start looking in our market. It’s not uncommon to work with a client that shows up with the proceeds from their 2,500 square foot home that sold in Florida and that has now only afforded them to shop in West Virginia for a home that’s 1,500 square feet and a fixer upper. This often adds to some confusion and anger by the people trying to move in, and my feelings as a real estate agent are, “don’t hate the messenger”. West Virginia Real Estate ain’t doing bad! So, why is our real estate so unaffordable to many people relocating, when the conception of West Virginia is that it’s one of the poorest states in the country, full of people who breed with their family and can’t read? Could all the hype of WV real estate be wrong by these outsiders!!!?? Yes, they can be wrong and they find that out when they get here.
Think I’m over exaggerating? Just recently Morgantown was featured on HGTV’s House Hunters showcasing home buyers relocating to Morgantown WV from sunny Florida. You can read the article and fact check my bragging regarding the Morgantown, WV real estate market here http://www.hgtv.com/house-hunters/after-living-in-five-states-in-seven-years-tim-and-summer-munyon-are-ready-to-settle-down-in-morgantown-west-virginia/index.html
So why is it that this couples $250,000 – $300,000 budget wasn’t enough for this hillbilly town? West Virginia has a lot of depressed areas economically, just like every state in the country. Everything can’t be booming I guess. There are towns in West Virginia that have small populations and high unemployment but don’t let that fool you into thinking West Virginia is a complete loss. You’d be surprised to see that there are areas in West Virginia that are doing superb in the real estate market and it doesn’t seem like a bubble to me when I have seen it be steady for the past 10 years despite reports all over the country showing that other areas are drowning. This stability in many parts of West Virginia is really an opportunity for its real estate agents.
While West Virginia might be ranked anywhere from 38-48 in reports on the nations economy, our dollar value has held steady here, our median income hasn’t dropped, and there are some areas in the state that seem unbelievably unaffected by the gloom and doom the media portrays. Not only that, there is money to be made as a real estate agent in those areas because the sale of property hasn’t taken a hit and there continues to be buyers, sellers, and commissions to be made in many areas of the state.