The Winchester area is growing at a faster pace than the rest of Virginia according to a recent report
from Old Dominion University (ODU) titled “The 2021 State of the Commonwealth Report.” This report, published annually since 2015, devotes a 28-page chapter to the Winchester Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), its growth, and what that means to the people who live there.
The MSA is comprised of Winchester, Frederick County, and Hampshire County, West Virginia. What is causing this surge in residency? NOVA commuters.
From 2000 to 2020, the Winchester metro area added more than 38,000 new residents, an estimated average increase of 1.6%.
The population growth was driven by Frederick County for which Winchester is the county seat. From 2000 to 2020, the population of Frederick County grew from 59,639 to 91,119, an annual average increase of 21%.
The city of Winchester's population grew at an average annual rate of 0.8%.
The percentage of residents who worked outside of the region in 2019 was 50.7%. The average percentage of commuters in 2002 was only 39.3%.
Among Virginia's metropolitan areas, Winchester had the largest percentage of residents who worked outside the metro area in 2019. Other MSAs are Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Richmond, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, Blacksburg-Christiansburg, Danville, Kingsport-Bristol, Martinsville, Bluefield and Big Stone Gap.
With more than half the local workforce employed outside of the Winchester area, the MSA's median household income has risen dramatically over the past decade to its current level of $76,583. In 2010, median household income in the Winchester metro area was $46,626.
From November 2011 to February 2020, the report states, "the median housing value in the Winchester metro area rose by 31.2% to $247,871. The COVID -19 pandemic did not dampen the housing market in the region, with prices climbing another 23.5% by October 2021. During that month, the median housing value in the Winchester region was $306,084."
A single-family home in the Winchester MSA valued at $100,000 in 2000 would be worth approximately $257,100 today
Housing in the Winchester MSA still costs much less than in Northern Virginia. "In the Washington, D.C., metro area, the median housing value in October 2021 was $547,223, approximately 1.8 times higher than the Winchester area.”
As the report states, "Over the past decade, the influx of new residents from Northern Virginia has proven to be a boon sparking growth in incomes and jobs to the regional economy."
New housing developments are going up throughout the region providing many more options to homebuyers.
The region is experiencing a shortage of quality dwellings with rent or mortgage payments that are affordable for the working-class individuals and families that already live here.
According to financial experts, an affordable monthly housing payment should be 30% or less of monthly income. In the Winchester MSA, an individual or family earning the median household income of $76,583 could only afford a house priced at $102,660 or pay $489 a month in rent. A housing study released by Winchester's City Council in October 2020 stated that there were only 120 single-family homes and 188 rental units in the city that would qualify as affordable housing, and when available don't stay on the market for long.
The infrastructure, schools, roads, and utilities are not developed enough for the population surge and will need to be upgraded quickly to meet demand and prevent further degradation.
The Report’s Conclusion
"Now is the time for the region to engage in discussions of expanding public infrastructure, planning for increases in housing stock, and thinking about how to continue its historical performance in terms of job creation," the report concludes. "None of these challenges has an easy solution, but a number of other regions in the commonwealth might gladly trade for these circumstances, given their relatively poor records of job creation and population growth since the Great Recession [from 2007 to 2009]."
While homes in the Winchester area have increased in value, so has the cost to replace them. Our coverage is based on a home’s replacement value, not the sale price of the home. With material shortages and inflation affecting all aspects of home repair and rebuilding, it is more important than ever to find the right coverage with the lowest long-term costs. This is Mutual Assurance Society's insurance in a nutshell.
Our comprehensive and affordable coverage is available to the Winchester area through The Winchester Group (TWG), a company committed to being a trusted advisor to provide protection, competitive prices, and personalized service.
If you, or anyone you know, has recently relocated to the Winchester area, look into Mutual Assurance. We’re a different sort of insurance company that’s been in business for 228 years for good reasons that are too numerous to list here. Go to www.mutual-assurance.com/pre-qualify to learn more.