Buy Suitland program encouraging growth in Prince George's County community

      Prince George's County has struggled to recover since a nationwide slump ravaged the housing industry, but for Vickie Coates, selling in Suitland has become a major priority.

      "Suitland is a nice area," she said. "It's an up-and-coming area."

      Coates and the county are capitalizing on foreclosures by offering incentives to buy short-sale homes or foreclosed properties. A program called "Buy Suitland" is giving buyers the opportunity to get up to $40,000 from the county for moving into a foreclosed home.

      The Suitland-Silver Hill community, which had a population of just over 33,000 as of the 2000 census, is home to a huge federal center. When you talk to residents in the area, they say the best way to revive Suitland is to get the thousands of people that come in and out every day to not just work there but to live there as well.

      "They've got the big Census bureau here," Suitland resident Marcell Brown said. "They could really build it up and it could really help this community."

      Aubrey Thagard, the county's assistant deputy chief for economic development and public infrastructure, says that making the area more appealing for young professionals is a major goal.

      "We think that through 'Buy Suitland' we can use the current stock of foreclosed homes to make it affordable and move into Prince George's County," Thagard said.

      Coates, though, cautions that the area is still in transition.

      "You have to be realistic about the area," she said. "A lot of people we get already know about the area, so they know it's to their advantage to purchase, because the value will go up."