By Celeste M. Smucker –
Belmont home buyers love their neighborhood for many reasons, but its location near jobs, restaurants and entertainment venues is high on the list. And that includes attractions in downtown Charlottesville as well as those at Belmont Village that are even closer to home.
Belmont’s short commute to downtown, UVA or the Medical Center is also appealing to employees who work in these popular spots but choose to walk or ride a bike to work because they don’t enjoy hunting for parking places or traveling a long distance to work. This continues a long tradition from Charlottesville’s earliest days when a combination of factors including access to work made Belmont a popular and convenient place to live.
Today a diverse population of families from first-timers to down-sizers who are willing, in many cases, to renovate and update older homes, can enjoy all of the benefits of a walkable, downtown lifestyle when they choose to live in Belmont.
However if you are a buyer, don’t wait too long. Like many local neighborhoods, inventory is in short supply and competition is bidding up prices. This means now is a great time for sellers to give their agent a call and learn what may be surprising news about what their house will bring in today’s market where there are many eager buyers ready to make an offer.
Belmont’s Real Estate Market
Buyers from Millennials, who work downtown to retirees ready to give up the headaches of maintaining a large house and lot in the suburbs, are all prospects for Belmont area listings that are going fast.
Cynthia Viejo with Nest Realty Group, a 37-year veteran of the real estate business explained she always thought Belmont had potential, but it wasn’t until the year 2000, when investors began buying and flipping homes and buyers priced out of the close-in market north of downtown began looking in Belmont, that things really started to change.
Today’s Belmont market is “very hot,” said Inessa Telefus with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates. She listed nearness to the Downtown Mall and Belmont Village as two huge benefits, explaining that Belmont Village has its “own character, very relaxed with an artista feel,” making it very attractive to buyers.
Belmont’s downtown has a number of trendy spots, Viejo said, that keep people on that side of the bridge. She described this area as “an extension” of what is attractive about the Downtown Mall, a place that is “fun and vibrant,” where people can enjoy amenities without ever crossing the bridge.
Telefus recently helped some clients moving here from Chicago who fell in love with Belmont for all of these reasons. Unfortunately, after looking at lots of properties, they didn’t find what they wanted, but then they lucked out. It was while they were on their way to the airport that they got a call from Telefus who described the perfect property for them. She had just previewed it—with them in mind—after learning it was due to come on the market very soon.
With a plane to catch the clients were not able to return to Belmont and look at the house, but based on what they had already seen, they took a chance and made an offer on the property “sight unseen,” Telefus said. They are glad they did. Today they are living in the home and enjoying the Belmont lifestyle.
It is the “community feel” that many buyers discover after they move into Belmont that makes it an even more appealing place to live. Walkability may have brought them there but it is also walkability that gets people out and about on foot and brings them face-to-face with their neighbors, a big change for relocated suburbanites accustomed to walking only as far as their cars prior to driving somewhere else.
Robert Ramsey with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. explained that often Belmont buyers are people who don’t like the suburbs but “march to a different drummer.” Many can afford to live elsewhere, but choose Belmont for all of its benefits.
Of course, many of the homes need renovation to accommodate a more contemporary lifestyle, something that doesn’t deter Belmont buyers or current residents who choose to update their homes to enable them to enjoy their home even more and age in place with greater ease.
Keith Smith, with the Zion Crossroads office of Roy Wheeler Realty, described a recent renovation completed by some of his clients on a Belmont home built in 1902. The owners were much younger when they purchased the house and knew they needed a more livable floor plan to stay there into retirement years. While moving to a more contemporary home further out was an option, they weren’t willing give up their close-in lifestyle.
The property didn’t lend itself to putting on a downstairs master suite, but they were able to extend the living space on the back of the house and add a half bath and laundry area on the first floor, both huge conveniences. Smith described the newly renovated house as not only more livable, but as a place that will be more marketable in the future with a great deal more equity.
If you are in the market for a home and like the charm of an older house in a neighborhood with a genuine sense of community, consider Belmont. Then enjoy walking to the Downtown Mall or Belmont Village to meet new friends for brunch. But don’t wait. Call your agent now before the market pushes prices even higher.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.