The pandemic has been good to real estate prices in Nelson County. Actually, pandemic + fiber internet have been good for Nelson County prices.
I wrote in January of 2022
Nelson’s market has skyrocketed. When I was looking for news about their increasing real estate assessments (Nelson folks are probably upset about this; they reassess every 4 years), I found this story, How Nelson County became No. 1 for remote workers,which is as surprising as it is not.
“One of the words we throw around a lot in today’s vernacular is ‘game changer,’’’ says Gary Wood, president and CEO of the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and its wholly owned subsidiary, Firefly Fiber Broadband, which is partnering with Dominion and Appalachian Power to install fiber in 14 counties.
Internet connectivity is the fourth utility, says Wood, like electricity, water and phone service.
The U.S. Census conducts surveys every year, and its most recent numbers for 2019 show Nelson County leading the state with 11.8% of its residents working from home. In sharp contrast, the same survey shows Bland County with less than 1% of its population working remotely.
Wood thinks Nelson’s 2020 remote worker numbers “could easily double,” and he estimates 35% to 40% of Nelsonites worked at home during at the peak of COVID.
“Having true high-speed, reliable, cost-effective internet allows people to work from home,” he says. Companies found they could let employees work remotely, and workers like it, he says.
Fast Internet is a Necessity.
This week, I was in a house in Nelson that appears to have been used as a short-term rental. With permission, I hopped on the wifi and did a quick speed test. Not bad, and fast for American standards.
And then CBS 19 called asking for an interview and quick context
So, I dug a little bit.
For single family homes in Nelson County
In 2018, 198 homes sold in Nelson, and the average price was $347,000.
So far in 2022, as of 3 August around 11am, 132 homes have sold, and the average price is $538,000.
These changes have ramifications, and these are some that I thought of initially
- More people working from home because now that fiber internet is available, rural areas are now options.
- More urban people moving to rural areas may seek and demand more urban services.
- Strain on the County services.
- Some people who’ve long lived in rural Nelson may resent new people. Some people who’ve long lived in rural Nelson may welcome new people.
- More traffic on the roads as more people drive.
- It’s too soon to conclude anything definitively, as we are still in a pandemic, and fiber is not yet ubiquitous.
- Population data does not yet reflect what I perceive as a shift. 15,020 people in 2010 and 14,790 in 2021.
- Real estate assessments will increase.
- People need affordable homes; I don’t know where that’s going to come from.
From the News Advance in July 2022
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative estimates more than 90% of Nelson County residents will have access to gigabit-speed internet by Jan 1, 2023.
However, CVEC and Firefly Fiber Broadband CEO Gary Wood said complications with railroad crossings and Regional Internet Service Expansion (RISE) partner Appalachian Power Company are holding up connections in the Shipman, Arrington and Schuyler areas
Wood presented a map of the county to the Nelson County Broadband Authority and the board of supervisors on July 12 that indicated nearly the entire county will be connected to broadband by 2023.
The only areas not highlighted on the map, and not included in the year end internet estimate, are the northernmost tip of the county, around U.S. 250 in Afton, and the northwesternmost tip of the county near Love. Wood estimated these two areas, which include about 175 homes, will be connected by late 2023.