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Home prices are outpacing wages in northern Virginia

A for sale sign is displayed in front of a house in Westwood, Mass. Home prices hit a new record in October as the number of homes for sale hit an all-time low.
Steven Senne
A for sale sign is displayed in front of a house.

Northern Virginia is often seen as the economic powerhouse of the state. But the housing crunch is causing a problem.

Across most of Virginia, wages are outpacing home prices. This is true in Northumberland and in Greensville and in Lunenburg. But in northern Virginia, home prices are outpacing wages in Manassas and in Falls Church and Fairfax County. John Provo at Virginia Tech says markets are chasing equilibrium.

"We see wages bid up in parts of the state where companies are working harder to attract workers," Provo says. "And I think in other parts of the state the challenge is more around the availability of housing and we have perhaps a larger number of workers competing in that space."

Terry Clower at George Mason University's Schar School says many parts of northern Virginia are losing population.

"There's been research that was reported early last fall, that for the first time ever actually recorded in research," Clower says. "If you ask people who are employed why they were moving from one city to another, the number one answer was looking for more affordable housing."

As the rise of remote work becomes more prominent, northern Virginia might continue to see outmigration until the housing stock is able to catch up.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.