By Nicole Skuba
“I’m shopping for a home right now and I can promise you I’m staying the hell away from Broadlands and Lansdowne just because of OpenBand.” —statement found on an online forum about broadband service.
Most Ashburn residents have probably heard about OpenBand, the cable, Internet and phone service created by builder Van Metre companies and contractor M.C. Dean.
OpenBand enjoys a 75-year contract forcing all homeowners living in the Southern Walk section of Broadlands to pay for its service, regardless of whether they want the service. In addition to the Broadlands homeowners association fee, residents must pay a second HOA fee of $155 for basic cable, Internet and local phone service.
I’ve been here for five years. Like most residents of Southern Walk, I grudgingly accept the high prices and inferior service. I rarely submit a ticket anymore when a television channel suddenly goes out. OpenBand responds late or not at all since there are no consequences for their actions. Yet, I still have to pay them. The most I can do is throw pennies at their doorstep.
In April, I put my house up for sale and discovered yet another disadvantage of OpenBand: they appear to be driving down the value of homes in my neighborhood. Now that word is out about OpenBand and the market is in a condition that allows serious shopping around—we were actually on a waiting list to buy our townhouse in 2005!—buyers are steering clear of homes in Southern Walk.
Messages posted on the Broadlands HOA forum assert that homes in Southern Walk sit on the market 30 percent longer and sell for up to 27 percent less than the average home of similar quality in northern Broadlands. Based on my experience and relevant housing records, this seems to be true.
My house was on the market for 100 days and sold for around $20,000 less than comparable homes in other parts of Broadlands. Realtors visiting our home would exclaim that they didn’t understand why our show home—in excellent condition—was taking so long to sell. We knew why. Only when we offered to pay one year of HOA fees did the house finally sell.
So, there’s another reason why OpenBand sucks. I’d love to tell you reason number 148, but my Internet connection just cut out again.