Watering the 12th green.
The “city spin” says Countryside will have half of the 130 acres undeveloped and oh what a favor they are doing for the neighborhood. Excuse me but that “half left vacant of development” includes a flood zone, airport noise contour, typography challenges, a runway protection zone and improbable development on narrow fairways with no ingress and egress.
Even parcels planned for development flood or are in or next to the airport noise contour. This is in part no thanks to the widening of the RPZ and unequal swapping of land with the airport authority. The RPZ now devoid of trees is noisier than ever. Planes fly lower and trees that blocked some noise are gone.
By the way the FAA has not changed their rules on what can be on a RPZ. Their policy still says a golf course but then the local airport authority has the final word on that.
The neighborhood since 2005 had been telling city leaders that their homes would devalue significantly if the golf course was exterminated. Oh no they said, it will be better for your neighborhood, the community and the city.
We never swallowed that “la-la land” thinking. The real estate agents whispered the same in our ear. As Mike Higgins told Council on June 20 it was like having oceanfront property – the ocean dries up and the value of your dream cottage by the sea evaporates.
The last home that sold above assessment was bought when council and the city assured the purchasers that the backyard would remain an 18-hole golf course. Two weeks after moving in city council pulled the rug out from under them and the golf course was closed.
They are way underwater on their home now. They paid a chunk over the assessed value for the very reason it was on a golf course.
Next door to them the house went up for sale shortly after the golf course was closed. It is assessed at the same value. For over a year the price kept being reduced. It sold last month for $8000 BELOW assessment.
The house directly across the street from this house is now priced $3,000 below assessment and it sits and sits, reduced and reduced. Even the 1970s townhomes are pricing below assessed value.
It is true that all home values have taken a hit but the folks at Countryside had at least an edge for marketing their homes at a better price before the golf course closed. Let me repeat for the 100th time – homeowners PAID UP for the homes built on the golf course. In case you still don’t understand – that means we paid MORE money for our homes because it is WELL KNOWN by realtors that a home on a golf course sells for MORE then one that is not on a golf course. The same goes for lake access like Smith Mountain Lake. Just try to drain it and see what happens to those who built on the lake.
At the Planning Commission public hearing Kit Hale sales manager with MKB Realtors grilled me over why I thought our homes had devalued. He seemed to have forgotten one thing. MKB was the listing agent for the “Countryside Cottages.” MKB sales agents touted it as a golf course community in ads, the MLS book and in open houses.
He turned a deaf ear to that though. Just a few months before one of Mr. Hale’s agents listed a townhome on Ranch Road advertising that it backed up to a “golf course.” I reminded him of it quietly at one of the Planning Commission work sessions and he had the agent remove that “selling point.”
Roanoke City has shot itself in the foot. There is no drawing card to prop up home prices here. No homes will be built that compared to the value they had when it was a golf course. The $2.6 million balance on the $4.1 loan will be refinanced as Ann Shawver director finance told city council. This is after already paying $1 million of interest on the loan.
As the “city spins” reality waits.
Needless to say we will convene at the real estate assessors office soon. In boom times the city was not slow in increasing our assessments. The sad reality is that homeowners don’t realize their homes are over-assessed. Shawver told me that the city tries to assess home values five percent below what the owner might be able to sell it for. If that is the case Roanoke City is in big trouble. Real estate taxes account for 30 percent of the city’s revenue stream.
The reality is localities hope the homeowner won’t notice – that is until they go to sell their home. The appeal process is another deterrent – they through mumbo-jumbo at the homeowner hoping they will give up and most do. The only recourse may be for the homeowner to go to court.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Commentary, Community, Finance
Tags: budget, city_council, city_debt, Countryside, golf, neighborhood