Drive twelve miles west from Charlottesville and you’ll find Crozet, a quaint village and a popular residential area surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery. One of Albemarle County’s fastest growing areas, Crozet features the walking community of Old Trail and a growing number of other subdivisions where residents can experience a relaxed country lifestyle and still be within easy driving distance of the jobs and amenities found in nearby Charlottesville, Staunton, and Harrisonburg.
Originally called Wayland’s Crossing, Crozet was renamed in 1870 for Colonel Claudius Crozet, a Frenchman who engineered and oversaw the construction of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, completed in 1858. Although the area has remained largely agricultural through the years, two corporations, Morton Frozen Foods and Acme Visible Records located there in the mid-1900s. While they are both long gone, different companies now call Crozet home including US Joiner, which installs interiors for large ocean going vessels, Starr Hill Brewery and Music Today,
In recent history, local author Rita Mae Brown made Crozet famous as the setting for her Mrs. Murphy mystery series featuring the cat Sneaky Pie Brown. In 2007 it gained more fame when the movie Evan Almighty was partially filmed there.
The real estate market in Crozet is strong and offers a range of prices and property styles to suit just about everyone. Whether you are a first time buyer looking for a town home, a family wanting an elegant estate property, a retiree wanting maintenance free living or someone who wants the freedom and privacy of a multi-acre spread, chances are good you will find what you are looking for in Crozet.
A Popular Place to Live
In an effort to accommodate development but still maintain its rural character, Albemarle’s Comprehensive Plan set aside five percent of the county as designated growth areas, most of which are near Charlottesville. Crozet was named one of these designated areas in 1971 and the result has been growth and expansion as more and more people recognize the benefits of living in this scenic part of the county.
“Crozet has it all,” said Justin Kent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate III who represents Craig Builders. He listed the “beautiful views from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, great schools, shopping, and a variety of restaurants serving local food and supporting local music,” as just some of the many reasons Crozet is such a popular choice among homebuyers.
Kathryn Bentley, with Roy Wheeler Realty, Co., agrees, describing Crozet as the “perfect combination of everything.”
Bentley was born at Martha Jefferson Hospital and has lived in Crozet all of her life. She said “I totally think the growth was needed,” in describing Crozet’s transition from a small, largely blue collar, country town to a bedroom community of Charlottesville. She explained that people like living where they have a village kind of setting, yet can enjoy the amenities of town and the cultural and educational benefits of UVA.
In spite of its growth, and the infusion of so many new people, Crozet still retains its sense of identity as a community, Bentley said. When she grew up there, everyone literally knew everyone else. However, that sense of community persists today, Bentley explained. She described Crozet as a friendly place where people are neighborly and genuinely enjoy each other’s company, unlike in subdivisions in more urban areas where neighbors barely acknowledge each other as they go to and from work.
Crozet’s small town feel is an important part of its appeal, said Jim Duncan with Nest Realty, but it also helps that it is a place where residents can breathe clean air and enjoy mountain views. People appreciate the “slower pace of life,” here, he added, saying that he often gets calls from out of town buyers who have read his blog, RealCrozetVA.com and are looking for just those qualities in their search for the perfect place to live.
The Crozet Real Estate Market
In Bentley’s view Crozet and Western Albemarle were shielded somewhat from the recession of a few years ago. “We definitely saw values drop,” she said explaining that she lost money on a home she bought at the height of the market. She still lives in Crozet, but relocated to a home on a much larger lot where she can look out onto her very own pond.
Nevertheless, Bentley described the today’s real estate market as “very strong,” including both resale and new construction. She referenced the new community of Grayrock West where three new homes have sold in the last six months.
“Some pockets are increasing while others are stable,” Duncan said about the Crozet market. Like many parts of our region, there is a shortage of inventory in general reflecting the market’s strength. However, Duncan said this shortage is especially severe in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range. He is looking forward to a continuing strong market stating that it is “poised for increase” over the next 18 months.
People Move to Crozet from Everywhere
Crozet appeals to people from as close as Charlottesville and from as far away as Europe and Australia.
“Crozet welcomes home buyers from all over the world,” Kent said. “However,” he continued, “I think one of the biggest testaments to its appeal is that there are more and more residents selling their current Crozet homes to buy new ones. Whether they’re moving up to a larger home for their growing families or scaling down to purchase a new Crozet home that requires less maintenance, the fact that so many are staying right here is a strong indication of how much this vibrant community as a whole has to offer.”
Bentley couldn’t agree more, stating that “Crozet has something for everyone from young families to people purchasing homes costing in excess of $800,000.” Her clients include young families and first time buyers as well as retirees relocating here from urban areas like northern Virginia and New York because they love the Blue Ridge Mountains.
While many people like Old Trail and some of the newer subdivisions, Laurel Hills, an older neighborhood which has been there since the 50s, is also growing in popularity, Bentley said, especially amongst younger buyers. These are “well built” homes, Bentley added, explaining that many young families are enjoying the process of moving in and renovating to update and meet their needs.
People move to Crozet from Charlottesville and further away because they want to enjoy a quieter lifestyle, Duncan explained. He regularly hears from out of towners who do a Google search and like the “feel” of Crozet which they get from reading his blog that describes the local culture and community. “It’s nice to know that people are doing this kind of research,” he added.
Opportunities for First Time Buyers
There are definitely first time buyer opportunities in Crozet.
Old Trail has some higher end first timer opportunities Bentley said including town homes and smaller single-family homes. She currently has a resale listing in the low $300,000 range, which she described as “a perfect starter home for a buyer who qualifies.” However, she has also worked successfully with Crozet bound clients in the $200,000 and under range. Recently she helped a first time buyer look at five homes all between $175,000 and $200,000. These are smaller homes, some have been remodeled, she said and she described most as “very nice.”
“I work with a lot of first time buyers,” Duncan said. He described Crozet as “truly a great area to come and stay.” For families who want to stay put, Crozet is a place where “you can find the right house and stay for twenty years,” he continued.
First timers who like the idea of owning a brand new home will also find options in their price range. “Craig Builders recently offered Cottages in Old Trail Village from around $200,000 and continues to offer some larger town homes from under $300,000,” Kent said. The town homes come with a list of amenities such as attached two-car garages, maintenance free decks, hardwood floors and granite countertops, all of which appeal to today’s younger buyers, Craig added.
A Community with Lots to Do
Crozet is often described as a welcoming place where people know and look out for each other. For this, Bentley gives a lot of credit to Old Trail, which she says “forged the way” in making Crozet a true community.
One of the ways they do this is by welcoming their neighbors from outside of Old Trail to come and be part of activities there. For example, there are summer concerts, a Halloween party in the fall, and an Easter Egg Hunt in the spring featuring the Easter bunny, hayrides and children’s activities. All are open to Old Trail residents and to the larger community.
The village of Crozet has also embraced walk and bike trails, Bentley said, which are “changing the face of downtown,” making it more inviting to come visit the restaurants and shops there. Recently the area has also benefited from the additions of sidewalks and bike lanes on Jarman’s Gap Road between Crozet Avenue and Old Trail Drive.
There are many more activities that make Crozet a popular place to visit and to live. A good example is the bi-annual arts and crafts festival at Claudius Crozet Park that attracts lots of people from all over the region. The festival takes place every May and October and includes food, entertainment and a juried art show. Proceeds fund the growth and upkeep of the 22 acre park.
Crozet residents can also easily enjoy activities such as “swimming, golf, visiting wineries and breweries, hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains, enjoying some great fishing spots or scenic drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive,” Kent said.
Buy a Home and Find a Community
“I just love Crozet,” Bentley said, describing her deep roots there and stating that she continues to be friends with people she has known since she was born. However, she also has many new friends who have relocated there more recently and live in neighborhoods like Old Trail. “Most people welcome the sense of community they find in Crozet which makes it hard to leave once they put down roots here,” she added.
For home buyers this means Crozet can be a good financial investment with stable property values, Bentley said. More importantly, however, it is also a place where people feel at home and form the kinds of relationships that turn into long-term friendships as they share a commitment to a lifestyle that has something for everyone.
If you work in nearby Charlottesville or just like the idea of unwinding in a place that offers a quiet, rural atmosphere with plenty of amenities of its own, then Crozet may be just what you are looking for. Call your REALTOR® today for more information.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, blogger and author. She lives near Charlottesville.