By Celeste M. Smucker –
If the benefits of a rural lifestyle appeal, but you also want to live close-in to enjoy the many amenities of town, then Louisa County could be the perfect choice.
Known as a place where residents can see stars at night, Louisa is blessed with a vibrant economy and central location with easy access to Charlottesville, Richmond and Fredericksburg. And if you are a waterfront or second-home buyer you can find a great deal on your dream home in one of Louisa’s several lakefront communities.
History buffs love the local Historical Society’s Sargeant Museum in the Town of Louisa, which is a great place to visit or volunteer a few hours a week. Residents, guests and visitors are also invited to honor Louisa’s history by engaging in a host of activities including the much-anticipated family-friendly Heritage Day—happening this year on Saturday, April 28—for a glimpse of what life in Louisa was like in the years between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Louisa’s real estate market is hot, with inventory shortages and rising prices, and agents have high expectations for 2018. The 2017 year-end market report showed a 2.7 percent year-over-year increase in Louisa’s closed sales of single family detached homes and a 40 percent increase in sales of attached homes. Median days on the market were down significantly from 93 to 71, while median prices increased from $209 thousand to $222 thousand.
Homebuyers who choose Louisa for its central location and rural living opportunities will find many other reasons to like living there.
The county is a good choice for couples that have one spouse working in Richmond, the other in Charlottesville. If they live near Zion Crossroads, either can jump on the interstate and be at work quickly. Of course the one working in Charlottesville has the benefit of never having to contend with sun in their eyes as they drive to and from work.
Louisa’s relaxed pace of life is attractive whether buyers choose to live on a scattered lot in the country or move into a neighborhood like Spring Creek, a gated community with an award winning golf course or Forest View that features beautiful old trees and acre-plus home sites.
“I work in Charlottesville but quickly realized I did not want to live there. Spring Creek is perfect as we are between Charlottesville and Richmond (great for shopping), and also have some conveniences right outside our gates (Wal-Mart, Sheets, Lowe’s). Still we feel we are out of the hustle and bustle and honestly feel we have the best of both worlds—country life but with the conveniences,” said a recent Spring Creek buyer.
Charlene Easter with Spring Creek Realty shared how much one of her buyers enjoys living in Louisa explaining that they love the community but also appreciate that “quiet time is always nearby, especially to enjoy the wide variety of birds.”
“Louisa has some great vets,” said Olivia Ryan with Valere Real Estate in Mineral. She has noticed that just as parents choose to locate near good schools, pet lovers want to be near veterinarians and other resources like pet sitters and pet walking areas all available in Louisa.
Ryan is also enthusiastic about the number of unique eating establishments in the county. She referenced Pomme in Gordonsville that features “Upmarket French cuisine and an extensive wine list served in a cozy setting with a charming patio.” Alternatively there is Tavern on the Rail east of Mineral that offers “upscale yet relaxed dining” in an 1837 building that is a Nationally Registered Historic Landmark.
Tavern on the Green at Spring Creek is another popular choice for dining out that is easily accessible from the interstate. The full service restaurant and bar with WIFI overlooks the lake and the 18th green.
Vineyards are popular these days and Louisa County has its share. A quick Google search will uncover a list of locations where visitors and residents can sample the stock and attend festivals and events. Valere noted that Cooper Vineyards, which is a mile from her house, is known for its wines as well as its LEED certified “green” construction.
Terrific Home Prices, Low Taxes and Other Amenities
Homebuyers who have been shopping in Albemarle or Charlottesville may be surprised at what they can save by locating a little further out.
One Louisa resident with a Pantops-area job likes the ease of the commute, having moved there from a big city. She also couldn’t be happier with the great deals she got both price-wise and property tax-wise compared to living closer in.
And she isn’t the only one. A Spring Creek buyer explained that while Western Albemarle was appealing, they picked Louisa because, “it was a better value for our dollar.”
For other buyers moving from big cities, it is the lifestyle free of congestion with access to good health care that makes Louisa a top choice. Buyers also like Louisa’s proximity to DC, the mountains, and the beach, plus its easy access to universities in both Charlottesville and Richmond.
And if you are a telecommuter or someone who works from home you can count on the availability of high speed internet across the county, said James Dickerson with Charlottesville Solutions.
Thanks to active commercial development in Zion Crossroads, Louisa residents can find much of what they need nearby saving trips to town. Lowe’s and Walmart are popular spots also attracting people from the east end of Charlottesville who want to avoid the city’s congestion.
Louisa residents also love the new and growing 5th Street Station, where they can shop at Wegmans and a host of other stores, have lunch, or enjoy a movie just a short drive from home.
Celebrate Louisa’s History
Once part of Hanover County, Louisa became its own entity in 1742 when it had enough families to justify a courthouse. The County is named after the youngest daughter of King George II of England and Queen Caroline, and enjoys a rich history on display at the Historical Society’s Sargeant Museum located in the town of Louisa.
History enthusiasts curious about their property’s past can consult maps of land grants dating to as early as 1720 and perhaps discover who lived on their land prior to the Civil War. Visitors can also learn about historic figures such as Patrick Henry who practiced law in Louisa and represented the county in the House of Burgesses. Significant events are also chronicled there such as the Battle of Trevilian Station, the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War, fought in Louisa in June of 1864.
There is more to history than learning about important happenings and famous people, however, which is why the Historical Society sponsors events like the annual Heritage Day that is all about what daily life was like in the early 1800s before the Civil War.
The free function features living history demonstrations from craftspeople such as woodworkers, weavers, hearth cooks, herbalists demonstrating natural dyeing, and gardeners. Native American basket weavers from Maymont in Richmond will be showing off their craft as will spinners sent by the Fluvanna Historical Society.
Did you ever have questions about the manly art of dueling? Heritage Day is your chance to learn more and see a demonstration by duelists from Pennsylvania. Or visit Trevilian School and see an 1800s school marm in action.
Harnessing demonstrations by the Old Dominion Draft Horse and Mule Association will give a flavor of the importance of animals during this time period and visitors can also observe the arts of blacksmithing and horse wrangling.
Heritage day will have special interactive kids events like making corn shuck dolls, weaving bracelets and baskets, and spinning and carding wool. Riding a barrel train and playing period games are also on the schedule for the day.
The festival draws 100s of people from as close as Charlottesville and as far away as DC, Richmond and Fredericksburg. Mark your calendar for Saturday April 28 from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. (rain or shine) on the grounds of the Sargeant Museum at 214 Fredericksburg Avenue in the town of Louisa. Admission is free.
Visit the Louisa County Historical Society website for more details.
Louisa’s Real Estate Market
Agents are excited about this year’s market that got off to a good start and is expected to continue to be strong.
Dickerson said they are seeing activity in all sectors of the Louisa market from first timers to retirees. Many of the latter are Boomers now retiring and downsizing, while others, still working, are buying homes to enjoy on weekends and eventually to live in after retirement.
Millennials moving out of rental properties and into home ownership are another active group, many of them first time buyers.
Often the high costs of land and building materials puts new construction out of reach for first timers. In Louisa, though, they will find affordable new home options and can take advantage of the USDA Rural Housing Loan that offers 100 percent financing. And it’s not unusual for first time buyers to find a house on a couple of acres and still have mortgage payments that are less than what they pay to rent, Dickerson said.
Ryan noted that Louisa’s spring market is characterized by “early, early activity” that “translates across the board.” She is pleased to see properties selling close in to activity centers like Zion Crossroads, but also those that are “miles from things.”
People come from all over to live in Louisa, Ryan continued adding that her clients include everyone from young people to retirees. In some instances the retirees are also very young such as some “tech-folks” who retired at age 36. She also sees beneficiaries of corporate buy-outs that are given a nice package to retire early.
New homes are popular these days and builders are busy in Louisa as they are elsewhere in our region. Many like the friendliness of neighborhoods like Spring Creek, but building on scattered lots is a popular option said Diane Miller with Long & Foster – Lake Monticello. She added that there is “a lot of building going on” in Louisa in general.
Those who like the idea of a gated community with a golf course that regularly ranks high on lists of best public courses nationally and statewide should definitely check out new home options in Spring Creek.
While single family homes predominate, villa homes are also available and very popular. David Boisvert, Sales Manager for Atlantic Builders, one of Spring Creek’s featured builders advised that their villa homes sold out within 15 months of the time his company started to build there.
Fortunately for villa lovers, Stanley Martin Homes recently began building their own models at Spring Creek. Homebuyers there can also access individual garden plots and enjoy neighborhood gatherings around a community fire pit.
Are you longing for a quiet rural lifestyle with privacy and easy access to town? If so, talk to your agent about Louisa, but be prepared to act quickly, as inventory is low and the well-priced homes don’t last.
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.