By Celeste M. Smucker –
The Rugby area is known for its proximity to UVA and its gracious, older homes , many of which date back to the 1950s and 60s, with some even older than that. Agents report that perhaps a third of the homes have had recent renovations, but many are purchased by families or investors with the intention of updating them and making them more livable for today’s lifestyle.
This popular neighborhood extends from the University on the south to the shops and restaurants of Barracks Road and the bypass on the west and north. While large lots with mature trees and the charm of living in an older home are big parts of what make this area attractive, it also appeals to Charlottesville buyers who like a neighborhood where people know and watch out for each other and who take time to stop and talk when out for a stroll or give a friendly wave when driving by in a car.
Walkability is another big plus for the Rugby area, much of which is in walking or easy biking distance of Barracks Road and the University making it a popular choice for those who like the option of leaving their car at home when they go to work or to their favorite restaurants, sporting events or shopping venues. Walkscore.com rates Rugby’s Venable neighborhood as the third most walkable in Charlottesville with a walk score of 76 out of 100—which means most errands can be done on foot. And of course the downtown mall is just a long walk or bike ride away.
The large two story homes that characterize this area are especially attractive to families who also appreciate the quality of the local schools. However Rugby also appeals to young professionals, telecommuters and retirees, all of whom appreciate the peace, quiet and safety of a neighborhood that doesn’t have a lot of through traffic. For UVA grads moving back to Charlottesville for all of its amenities, many choose Rugby because it reminds them of the city they remember from when they were students.
Like much of our area, the real estate market in Rugby is healthy, with a shortage of inventory and a list of eager buyers that are ready and willing to purchase as soon as new listings come on the market. This means if you are looking for the unique, gracious lifestyle that this neighborhood offers, be prepared to make a quick decision when you find a home you like, as multiple offers on the same house are not uncommon and those who hesitate often lose.
Rugby’s Hot Real Estate Market
REALTORS® in our area are enjoying a brisk market this year and those who work the Rugby neighborhood are no exception.
Bobby Montgomery with Nest Realty Group described the market in Rugby as “very hot.” He referenced one listing in particular that was initially advertised to the agent community as “coming soon,” with a date when it would be available for showings. Nevertheless it received three offers from buyers who had not seen the interior and quickly sold “well above list price.” The winning offer was all cash with no contingencies.
Jim McVay, an Associate Broker with Roy Wheeler Realty Co., described the Rugby area as a place where people move in and stay so there is not a lot of turnover. This means buyers purchase homes to hold and renovate with the long term in mind because they enjoy the local lifestyle and feel they can reasonably expect their house to increase in value.
He gave some examples citing some of his own listings that have sold recently. One was a home in the $600,000 plus price range that went to a family with plans to do some major renovations. The other went for over $900,000 and had been renovated several times already. However the new buyers expect to do even more updates to the home to make it perfect for them.
The Rugby area’s relatively large homes appeal to families McVay said, but they are also attractive to retirees such as those who read the popular press describing Charlottesville’s many desirable features and, having decided to move here, look for the best neighborhoods. Rugby appeals because it is “a quality neighborhood with an old town feel.”
There is a high demand for homes in Rugby that are “prepared for the market with a reasonable price,” said Tommy Brannock with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates. In other words, the price must reflect the location and condition of the home. As examples of the high demand he described several homes that sold in the Rugby area last year after receiving multiple offers.
Another example was a home in the $900,000 price range that went under contract quickly. While that contract fell through after the buyers had the home inspected, the sellers immediately received two other offers as soon as their home went back on the market. Brannock believes the same home would have been listed at just $750,000 a couple of years ago.
Inessa Telefus with Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates described the Rugby area as one with a “unique vibe,” being “an established neighborhood with distinguished properties.” She explained that the less expensive homes sell “very quickly” while those with higher price tags stay on the market a bit longer.
For most first time buyers, the prices in this neighborhood are well outside of what they can qualify for, although there are exceptions. Montgomery’s daughter got married last August and moved back to Charlottesville after a time away. She and her husband were first timers when they purchased their home in Rugby that they proceeded to gut and renovate before settling in.
Why Buyers Love Rugby
Telefus described the Rugby area as a place with spacious, older homes that have a lot of charm, and even before they are updated, their quality is obvious in their “very solid construction.”
Proximity to the University is a big plus for Rugby residents especially for those who work there. McVay explained that UVA people originally built many of these charming, old homes, which at that time were in the county, outside of Charlottesville’s boundaries. Eventually, though, the neighborhoods that make up this community were annexed by the City. Today there are still UVA professors and administrators who live in and continue to buy homes in Rugby, McVay said, many of whom walk or ride their bikes to work.
Rugby’s walkability, especially to the University, is a big reason for its popularity, Montgomery agreed. He added that once there, people wanting to go to the downtown mall for lunch or shopping can hop on the trolley at the Rotunda and be there quickly as well.
Some of Montgomery’s recent buyers include doctors who relocated from elsewhere in Virginia and chose Rugby because of the short distance to the UVA Hospital. It’s not unusual, he continued, for people who move from outside the area to think initially that what they really want is to live out in the country. However, once they look at all the options many decide that living closer in is more desirable.
Telefus worked recently with a buyer, a single woman, who fits this profile. The buyer looked “everywhere in the county,” Telefus said, but chose to buy in Rugby because, “it was close to everything, it was charming and she had trees.”
On the other hand, not everyone wants to face doing a big renovation, Telefus added. Some of her other clients were an out-of-state couple with children, both university professors, who looked seriously at Rugby but bought elsewhere because, in their opinion, “the houses ‘needed work.'”
It’s not just University employees who appreciate this close in neighborhood. It is also often the top choice of alumni who “love UVA and would do anything they can to get back here,” Montgomery said. Often these people are young retirees from high-paying jobs like company CEOs who have been returning for reunions and finally decide to come back to Charlottesville permanently. The wealth they have amassed meanwhile makes it possible for them to spend big dollars on purchasing a home and then that much more to renovate it to their taste.
Others that gravitate to this area are telecommuters or entrepreneurs of all kinds who could live anywhere, but choose Charlottesville for all of the reasons that it regularly shows up on top ten lists, Brannock said.
Of course Charlottesville’s expanding high tech sector also contributes to the demand for close in properties, attracting employees with high paying jobs who appreciate what the Rugby area has to offer.
Brannock offered one more reason why Rugby can be a pleasant place to live. The University Police, whose responsibility ends with UVA’s grounds, are what he called “great neighbors.” He explained that they are friendly and comfortable dealing with students and can often defuse situations that might otherwise cause problems for nearby, local residents.
Charlottesville is considered to be a “great place for kids,” Brannock explained, and the Rugby area appeals to families for lots of reasons.
One of these is the large two story homes that are perfect for couples who want to have all the bedrooms on the same floor to be near their children when they are still young.
There is also a safety factor built into the layout of this older neighborhood characterized by streets that loop around rather than going straight through. Anyone looking for a shortcut to elsewhere in town, who has mistakenly turned onto one of these streets, understands how frustrating it can be to find their way back out again. This means if you live in the area, and you see a car, chances are it’s someone you know.
Families with children also have high praise for Venable Elementary School that serves the area. Venable’s test scores were above the state average as reported by greatschools.org, where 5 out of 6 parents gave it an overall rating of five out of five stars complete with glowing comments.
In addition, nearby Greenleaf Park is a family friendly place where parents can pack a picnic lunch and relax in one of the shelters while their kids enjoy the playground and the touch sensitive “spray ground” with its mushroom fountain and interactive water pole that promises to help them cool off on a hot day.
If you are someone who likes the idea of living close to town in an older home full of grace and charm, and if you enjoy being where the action is at the University, Barracks Road or the downtown mall, then the Rugby area may be just right for you and your family.
Talk to your agent today before Charlottesville’s hot market depletes existing inventory even further and makes it that much more difficult to find the perfect home for you in one of the area’s most desirable neighborhoods.
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.