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Lack of Inventory in Northern Virginia Homes: Why Building May Be Your Best Bet

October 25th, 2023

By Sofia Alonso

4 min read


If you've been trying to break into the Northern Virginia housing market, you're probably well aware of the current inventory dilemma. With demand far surpassing supply, finding the right home can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. And even if you do find a property that checks most of your boxes, chances are it's an older home requiring significant updates. This housing crunch is not just a buyer's problem; it's a cycle that affects sellers too, leaving many paralyzed by the fear of not finding a suitable next home.

As an experienced design-build firm serving Northern Virginia for over 20 years and being Northern Virginia natives, we at AV Architects + Builders understand the unique challenges of this area’s housing market. We've seen firsthand the frustrations that buyers and sellers face, and we're here to offer a viable solution that many haven't considered: building your own home. In this article, we'll walk you through why building may be your best bet in the current market, from the economics of building vs. buying to the emotional and lifestyle benefits of creating a home that's uniquely yours.

By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of the current state of the Northern Virginia housing market and why building a new home could be the smartest move you make. We'll explore the concept of 'teardowns' as a practical solution to land scarcity, dive into the long-term value of building your own home, and offer next steps on how to get started. Whether you're new to the area or looking to upgrade, this article will prepare you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate the housing crunch and invest in a home that truly meets your needs.


The Current State of Housing in Northern Virginia: The Inventory Dilemma

Northern Virginia is experiencing a housing crunch that has left many potential buyers frustrated. The demand for new houses is high, but the supply is woefully inadequate. This imbalance has led to a seller's market, where existing homeowners can command top dollar for their properties. However, for buyers, this means fewer options and higher prices. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many of the available homes were built in the 1970s or 1980s and would require significant renovations to meet modern living standards.


The Ripple Effect on Buyers and Sellers

The lack of inventory doesn't just affect buyers; it also has a ripple effect on current homeowners who might be looking to upgrade or downsize. With fewer options on the market, these homeowners are hesitant to sell their existing homes for fear they won't find a suitable replacement. This further tightens the inventory, creating a cycle that's hard to break. For those who are new to the Northern Virginia area or looking to settle down, the housing market can seem impenetrable.


What Are 'Teardowns'?

In the context of Northern Virginia's housing market, the term "teardown" refers to older homes that are more valuable for the land they sit on than the structures themselves. These homes, often built several decades ago, are purchased with the intention of demolishing them to make way for new construction. This is an increasingly popular solution for those looking to secure a spot in this coveted region.

Why Teardowns Make Sense

Given the scarcity of available homes and the often outdated condition of existing houses, teardowns offer a practical solution. By purchasing a teardown, you're essentially buying a plot of land in your desired location. This allows you to build a new home tailored to your specific needs and preferences, rather than settling for an existing home that may require costly and time-consuming renovations.

Comparing a Teardown Lot vs Vacant Land


The Economics of Building vs. Buying

Long-Term Value

When you opt to build a new home, you're investing in something that will likely offer better long-term value. New constructions are built to modern standards and codes, ensuring a higher quality of living and fewer maintenance issues down the line. Additionally, building your home allows for customization that can cater to your specific lifestyle needs, adding to the property's long-term value.

Customization and Cost

Building a new home offers unparalleled customization options. Whether it's the layout, the materials, or the fixtures, every aspect can be tailored to your preferences. While the upfront cost may be higher than buying an existing home, the ability to customize can actually be cost-effective in the long run. You won't need to spend additional money on renovations or modifications, as everything is built to your specifications from the get-go.


The Emotional and Lifestyle Benefits of Building Your Own Home

There's an emotional satisfaction that comes with building your own home. Every brick laid and every fixture installed is a step toward realizing your dream. This emotional investment often translates into a happier, more content life, as you're living in a space that's been tailored to meet your every need.

Beyond the emotional aspect, building your own home offers significant lifestyle benefits. For instance, you can design an energy-efficient home that aligns with your sustainability goals. Or perhaps you've always wanted a home with an open floor plan, a state-of-the-art kitchen, or a beautiful outdoor living space. Building from scratch makes these dreams achievable.


Next Steps: How to Get Started on Building Your Dream Home

Selecting the Right Lot

The first step in building your dream home is selecting the right lot. If you're searching for the ideal piece of land to build your dream home, then you may have noticed that good lots in the Northern Virginia area can be hard to find. And even once you find a piece of land, how do you know you can actually build on it?

This involves considering various factors such as location, size, and zoning regulations. As experienced architects and builders, we have the skills to assess land for specific attributes that tell us whether or not we can build your dream home on it.

Learn about our No Strings Attached Lot Acquisition service

Choosing a Reliable Builder

Once you've secured a lot, the next step is to choose a reliable builder. At AV Architects + Builders, we have over 20 years of experience designing and building luxury homes in the Northern Virginia area. We understand the local market and can guide you through the entire building process, ensuring a stress-free experience.


housing inventory in Nova: to buy or to build

Navigating the housing crunch in Northern Virginia can be a daunting experience, especially with the current inventory dilemma affecting both buyers and sellers. In this article, we've explored why building your own home may be the most strategic move you can make in this market. From understanding the concept of 'teardowns' as a solution to land scarcity, to the long-term value and emotional satisfaction of building a home tailored to your needs, we've laid out compelling reasons to consider this option.

Remember, the housing market's challenges don't have to be roadblocks. They can be opportunities to think outside the box and invest in a solution that not only meets your immediate needs but also aligns with your long-term lifestyle and financial goals. Building your own home offers you the chance to break the cycle of limited inventory and create a space that's uniquely yours.

So, if you're feeling stuck in the Northern Virginia housing market, try building. Your dream home may not be listed on any real estate website, but with the right approach and a trusted builder, it could be built on a plot of land waiting just for you.

We are AV Architects + Builders, your trusted partners in navigating the Northern Virginia housing market. With our deep understanding of the local landscape and years of experience, we can guide you through the complexities of building your own home, turning what seems like a challenge into an exciting journey towards your dream home.


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065