By Celeste M. Smucker–
What do you do if you love all that is Charlottesville, but also want to live close to or on a beautiful body of water? Or maybe you appreciate the mountains and country living, but find your perfect job in Richmond.
If you can relate, discover the benefits of living at Lake Monticello, a popular and affordable gated community in nearby Fluvanna County with a resort lifestyle accessible to buyers from Millennials purchasing their first home to growing families ready for a larger place, and self-employed professionals.
The Lake also appeals to retirees and others who want an elegant waterfront property where they can dock their boat and enjoy the view.
The water is the biggest draw at Lake Monticello, but the world class golf course is beloved of those who enjoy this sport. Plenty of other activities, such as swimming, tennis and walking, are also popular among families, young professionals, telecommuters and retirees. And just about everyone raves about two other features of this community: its easy going year-round vacation lifestyle and the security of living in one of our areas few gated communities.
Second home buyers who want a relaxing place to unwind from day-to-day stress also seek out Lake Monticello. Often, once they experience the magic of being at the lake, they decide to sell their other home and enjoy more stress-free living full time.
For those who have jobs in town, Lake Monticello is an easy drive to both Charlottesville and Richmond. And homebuyers wanting the best value for their money will be thrilled about home prices at the Lake that compare favorably to those in either Charlottesville or Albemarle County.
Lake Monticello’s Real Estate Market
The market is active in Fluvanna County. The recently released third quarter market report from CAAR (Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS®) shows a small year over year increase in the price of detached homes, while attached homes enjoyed a huge (22.1 percent) increase.
Sellers were also pleased about the significant decrease in the median number of days homes stayed on the market indicating buyers are snapping them up quickly.
The County’s total number of sales to date is 251, including 10 lots, reports Vicki Wilson, Principal Broker at Monticello Country REALTORS®. These figures compare favorably to just 221 sales, including 15 lots, at this time in 2017. There are also 42 homes and/or lots under contract, but not yet closed, indicating a strong year end report.
Wilson added that “new construction is gaining here again,” stating “there are lots available to secure now to build later.” She shared that she and her husband did just that, and are now living in “a brand new home with beach and boat access,” built by custom builder, Taylor Lyn Homes.
Currently buyers can choose from 67 homes and 31 lots for sale in this popular lake community. While that may seem like a lot to choose from, Diane Miller, Associate Broker with Long & Foster – Lake Monticello, explains that any given buyer’s choices are restricted to a narrow price range based on what they can afford and what is suitable for their family. If you look forward to relaxing in a lake home, the time to buy is now before this small inventory shrinks even more.
New construction is an option for buyers unable to find what they want in the resale market, Miller agrees. “There is building going on at Lake Monticello,” she continued, saying that some builders already own lots and are ready to build while others are checking out what is currently on the market.
While most homes in this community are not right on the water, there are always buyers looking for waterfront properties as soon as they come on the market.
“The buyers for waterfront homes are diverse; some are well into retirement, others retiring in several years, and still others are purchasing a weekend getaway for their growing young families,” explains Patsy Strong Principal Broker at Strong Team REALTORS®. “Interestingly enough, they all purchase here with the idea of enjoying a more relaxed waterfront lifestyle, which they immediately find at Lake Monticello!”
Regardless of whether you want a lot or have plans to build a new home it is a good idea to work with “a seasoned, experienced agent that has new construction experience,” when building your Lake Monticello home, Wilson says.
This is also good advice for those buying resale homes, especially if they have questions concerning issues such as water access, water sports, boat use, and docks.
Lake Monticello’s Many Benefits
Back in the 1960s, developers saw a piece of forested property and envisioned a lake surrounded by homes. The project got off the ground, and soon the Home Owners Association (HOA) took over the community’s management. By the early 1980s, Lake Monticello was a modest 400 lot subdivision.
The original lake grew in size in 1969 when Hurricane Camille brought torrential rains and weakened a nearby dam causing an influx of water from another lake. Today the 350-acre Lake Monticello has 22.5 miles of shoreline and is surrounded by 4,200 homes.
A recent analysis of local real estate trends by Michael Guthrie, CEO and Broker with Roy Wheeler Realty Co., examined the increased real estate activity in areas outside of Charlottesville City and Albemarle County. “Buyers are having to travel out a bit further to find a home they can afford,” he said.
Lake Monticello with its amenity-rich lifestyle is a great example of this trend. “There is a great opportunity here for first time home buyers or buyers downsizing,” Wilson said.
A quick search of area homes finds several available for under $200 thousand. If you are a first time buyer or a downsizer and this is your price range, call your REALTOR® today as these homes won’t last long.
Once homebuyers settle into their new place at the lake they can enjoy plenty of other benefits along with their lower monthly payments.
The HOA—which all residents must join—provides essential services, and homeowners pay annual dues for amenities such as common ground maintenance, trash pickup and snow removal plus the security gate and a full-time police force.
“The Lake Monticello Homeowners Association continues to make nice improvements here, which are attracting new buyers from all over the country,” Strong said. “The golf course has never looked better, and the summer saw lots of residents enjoying swimming and boating activities,” she concluded.
“There have been a new pub, clubhouse and golf clubhouse renovations in the past few years,” Wilson said, adding that “the pub is open to the public and so is Lakeside Restaurant.” In addition, “the new pool is currently being constructed for spring, and the tennis courts are newly finished too. The community has been here for years so having all new and updated facilities is wonderful,” she said.
In the event of a fire or medical emergency, a fire and rescue squad is ready and waiting just outside the gate, and is quick to respond. Tom Morace, Broker with Long & Foster – Lake Monticello, recalled an experience when an ambulance and the EMT arrived within five minutes after his mother slipped on her deck, fell and broke her shoulder.
One snowy winter evening Wilson had a similar emergency that prompted a call to the rescue squad. Help was there within five minutes even though many local roads were closed due to the snow.
The quality of Fluvanna County schools is a critical consideration for families with children who appreciate the high level of parental involvement and the variety of student programs available including special education, gifted and talented education, career and technical education, and alternative education. Thanks to Fluvanna County’s quality schools, the Class of 2018 earned over $1.3 million in scholarships.
Second Homes Popular
Lake Monticello is a popular destination for work-weary people who want a place to rest and rejuvenate on long weekends and during vacations. In fact, many love their second home so much, they choose to live at the Lake full time.
“I have sold several homes in the past couple of years where buyers have bought a second home with plans of retiring in the future. Most of them have taken an early retirement and moved here permanently,” Wilson said. “They fall in love with the lake and the ‘vacation at home’ feeling, so they move sooner rather than later.”
Second home buyers come from all areas, but many appreciate the relatively short trip from Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC. Some also come from the northeast.
Lake residents enjoy high speed internet service, which is attractive to home owners who are self employed, telecommuters or who work from home at least part of the time. Not only can they enjoy the beautiful views from their home office, they can also look forward to a boat ride or a leisurely walk around the Lake when they take a break. No wonder so many decide to sell their other house and work at the Lake full time.
“I have seen it over and over again,” Strong said. “Buyers purchase a waterfront home for weekend use, then they start extending their weekends and working there on Fridays and Mondays. Eventually I run into them in the middle of the week and they confide they have made the move to the water permanent.”
Lake Monticello Buyers
The Lake’s original developers found buyers in New York and other northern cities explains Keith Smith with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. – Charlottesville. At that time, he and his wife Yonna, also a REALTOR®, lived in New York City and were enticed by a $150 incentive to come experience Lake Monticello. They fell in love with the area and the lake, bought a lot and relocated.
They soon realized their lot was overpriced, but encouraged Smith’s father to join them in their resort lifestyle. He in turn invited some of his friends who also settled there after seeing the beauty of an area that is such a pleasant contrast to New York City.
The trend of lake residents encouraging family and friends to join them continues today.
“One of the most interesting things we see is people who move here and enjoy it so much they end up getting family members and friends to join them,” Strong said.
Today buyers still come to Lake Monticello from the northeast and from Northern Virginia. They come for the “low home and land prices, the proximity to Charlottesville and Richmond and the community activities and involvement. Many of my clients get involved in the volunteer opportunities within Lake Monticello and Fluvanna County once they are here,” Wilson said.
If you love the idea of living where you can enjoy a 12-month vacation, plus take part in the many opportunities Charlottesville has to offer, call your agent today. You’ll be experiencing a comfortable resort lifestyle before you know it.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, blogger and author who lives near Charlottesville.