*2023 numbers reflect only the first six months of the year.
We’re halfway through 2023 and the pace of new home construction across Jefferson County is moving right along too. For the first six months, the county’s Office of Impact Fees reports that 386 residential construction permits were issued (each permit equates to one single family house, one townhouse unit, or a single apartment in a multi-family building). For comparison, there were 452 residential permits issued county-wide in all of 2022. At the current rate, by the beginning of August (that is, right now), the number of new homes being built in 2023 will have already exceeded the total for all of 2022 — with five more months to go in the current year.
Earlier this year, when The Observer looked at the 2022 construction numbers, we noted that twice as many homes were being built each year compared to the decade following the 2008 recession. Based on the 2023 numbers so far, the current pace looks to be closer to triple the post-recession pace.
One significant shift jumps out from this year’s data — the number of townhouse permits (191) is almost equal to the number of single family home permits (193). According to conversations with local builders, the current market conditions are driving buyers, especially first-time buyers, to look for affordable options. The pricing available for new townhouse units in Jefferson County (starting at under $300,000) compares favorably to the pricing on new single-family ($400,000 and up). With rates on 30 year mortgages hovering around 7 percent, that pricing differential makes a big difference in the monthly payment (see related article on Harvest Hills subdivision).
The Ground Is Moving
If you drive around the county, housing construction is increasingly apparent. Several projects that have been working their way through the site planning and permitting process are moving past the infrastructure phase (construction of sewers, water system, and street) and into building actual structures. Some of these projects are recent — and some have been sitting for years and are just now moving forward. The Tollhouse Woods subdivision (see image), a project of 69 single family homes south of Shepherdstown (across from Morgan’s Grove Park) is an example of an older project that is now speeding up. This subdivision was approved in 2005 but construction on the site — to clear-cut and level the eponymous woods which now no longer exist — began in earnest only in 2021.
Several other projects in and around Charles Town and Ranson are at a similar stage, finishing up the site work and ready to start construction of the individual units. These housing starts will start to show up in the permit numbers over the next 6 to 18 months.
More On The Way
The images from the Huntfield subdivision below show the same block in January 2023 (top image) and July 2023 (middle image) — quite a lot of activity in just six months, with more to come (bottom image).