By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN If houses could talk in Waverly, they’d probably ask when all the craziness will end.
Some have never been lived in, others are on the verge of foreclosure, and still others have just been purchased by new families in the area.
“It’s kind of funny; I reported about 16 vacancies recently, but since that time we’ve probably lost seven or eight [homeowners],” public works director Jim Woitalla said. “We’re most likely back up to that 24 to 30 range.”
The number of empty houses in Waverly is much lower than it used to be, however. At the time the 2010 US census data was collected, 83 of Waverly’s 603 housing units were unoccupied.
“A lot of them were foreclosed, and a lot of the homes had never been lived in,” Mayor Connie Holmes said. “Obviously, it was overbuilt, as it was everywhere.”
As a result, the cost of many properties has dropped considerably.
“The prices have come down so much due to market conditions that more people are choosing to purchase their own home,” Holmes said, adding that most of the houses built in Waverly during the boom are two- or three-bedroom “starter homes.”
One example is a 1,104-square-foot Waverly house for sale on Realtor.com, which showed a price tag of $185,500 in 2007. When it was assessed in 2009, the value was $169,000. Now, the asking price has fallen to $119,900.
According to Woitalla, one Waverly homeowner recently purchased a place for $114,000. About eight years ago, the same property was on the market for $260,000.
“It’s down quite a ways,” Woitalla said. “These are the houses that are moving.”
Despite the reduction in vacancies, however, Woitalla said the housing struggles in Waverly seem to be far from over.
“In the last two weeks, we lost five of them,” he said. “We’re getting a new batch of people losing their homes.”
Woitalla anticipates that the number of vacancies could be back up to 50 or 60 by this fall.
“I don’t have any data on that, but that’s my gut feeling, based on what I’ve heard from residents,” he said. “A few of them have told me that they’re in trouble, and they’ll be losing their houses by August.”
Woitalla doesn’t think they’ll stay empty forever, though.
“I think they will sell,” he said. “They’re selling so cheap.”
A choice city
Chris Kittock, who works as an office assistant for the city of Waverly, sometimes gets to talk to new residents as they sign up for utilities.
“A lot that come in are younger,” Kittock said. “The parks are nice, and they like the school district. Retirees like it too, because it’s quiet.”
Kittock puts together welcome packets with city information, and Holmes delivers them to each new resident.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot of younger people with kids,” Holmes said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say they like living in a small town, and they like the atmosphere and the friendly people.”
Waverly is also near many people’s workplaces.
“It’s a decent commute into the cities,” Holmes said. “It’s a ways, but it’s not undoable.”
When Waverly did its population survey in 2009, about 1,150 residents were counted. Since that time, the number of people has risen to more than 1,350.
New residents are moving in from the cities, surrounding towns, and other areas of the country.
“We seem to have a real mix,” said Holmes, who came to Waverly in the fall of 2007, after living in Washington DC for 30 years.
“We retired, and we came out here to be with family,” Holmes said. “We like the town and we like the people.”
To view more housing statistics and other census data, go to go to http://factfinder2.census.gov, click on “geographies,” and type the name of the desired city, county, or township.