By Celeste M. Smucker –
Looking for a relaxed, country lifestyle but hate long commutes? Move to Greene County north of Albemarle for terrific views from your reasonably priced home. Then enjoy the easy, scenic commute to town.
A host of outdoor and recreational activities including hiking, camping, fishing and golfing are a big part of the Greene lifestyle, and residents and visitors also look forward to sipping award-winning wine while picnicking and relaxing at one of the County’s local vineyards.
Antiquers find a lot to love in Greene as they browse through stores that feature a wide array of options for discerning shoppers. And when they’re ready for a break, they stop in at a local restaurant for food to remember.
Greene County, a popular bedroom community of Charlottesville, offers something for everyone from a public school system that boasts a 94 percent on-time high school graduation rate to an active and welcoming senior center in the town of Stanardsville, Greene’s County Seat.
Stanardsville is a recent proud recipient of Federal money (awarded by the Virginia Department of Transportation and matched by funds from the local community) for Phase 2 of updates to its streetscape making it a safer, more aesthetic place to live, work and visit.
Local REALTORS® are enthusiastic about the real estate market in Greene, which is making a rapid comeback from the recession. At the same time, there are still great opportunities for buyers—including first timers—such as some long-awaited new construction options, something agents and home buyers have been looking forward to.
If you are ready to enjoy all of the benefits that Greene County has to offer, contact your REALTOR® today. Then take advantage of a market that features affordable, close-in homes before rising prices and interest rates put them out of reach.
Greene’s Many Amenities
Greene’s central and close-in location is a big plus for anyone wanting a rural lifestyle and a reasonable commute to town. The big draw may be close-by Charlottesville, but Harrisonburg to the west and Culpeper to the north are also easily accessible as are both Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia.
Couples with jobs in two different locations such as Harrisonburg and Charlottesville often choose Greene County, as do telecommuters or those who only have to be in the office a day or two a week.
Gorgeous mountain views draw many people to Greene whether for vacations, second homes, or full-time residence. If you love the outdoors and hiking, biking, camping, or fishing are how you relax, Greene County, where you can engage in your favorite sports while you savor spectacular mountain scenery, is for you.
The County borders Shenandoah National Park—created by a bill passed in Congress in 1926— and offers inspiring scenery with access to Skyline Drive via Route 33. Construction on the Park began in 1933 and brought much needed employment to the area during the Great Depression. Today local residents and tourists continue to enjoy the stunning views, the rivers, and the Park’s many recreational activities.
If golf is your game you can view the same scenery when you reserve a tee time at Greene Hills Club, a private 18-hole course open to the public Monday through Thursday. Tee times may also be available Friday through Sunday depending on demand.
Residents of Greene have the convenience of shopping at stores like Lowes, Food Lion and Walmart where they can buy the basics without driving into town. That’s a big change from the way it was before the county’s growth really took off, said Matthew Woodson with Roy Wheeler Realty Co., a Greene native.
Back when he was young, shopping was a big production because of the drive into town. The family would go every Friday to grocery shop and load up on supplies for the entire week. Today essentials like groceries, gas and great restaurants are all nearby making the Greene County lifestyle a lot more attractive, Woodson said.
If you’re too tired to cook, Greene offers a welcome number of local restaurants starting with ethnic specialties such as Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Italian. Or check out the newly opened Coppersmith’s with a “magnificent” copper bar and—coming soon—Sunday Brunch and Bloody Mary bar. Or sample an American menu featuring “fresh and local products to embrace the Virginia lifestyle,” at Jack’s Shop Kitchen that also serves Virginia wine and craft beers.
For an elegant night out or dinner plus an overnight stay, the Lafayette Inn and Restaurant in Stanardsville offers both. Built in 1840, the Inn’s first guests arrived by stage coach. Over the years it also served as a saloon, a boarding house and (during the Civil War) a hospital.
Today its fine dining and overnight stays with full concierge service draw customers from everywhere. Recently it was the 2018 winner of the Charlottesville Area OpenTable Diner’s Choice award based on guest reviews and comments in several categories: Best Overall, Best Ambiance, Best Service, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List, and Romantic.
Greene’s Real Estate Market
It’s a good time to be a REALTOR® in Greene County as sales are brisk. Sellers are happy as well as not only are their homes selling, but they are moving more quickly than a year ago.
The Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® reports that at the end of the first quarter of 2017 sales of single family homes in Greene were up 2.2 percent compared to last year at the same time, while inventory was down 17.2 percent.
REALTOR® Ginny Barefoot with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. describes a market that is “quite busy” with inventory shortages. In fact it is so busy they are starting to see multiple offers. She had competing offers on two of her listings just recently.
Barefoot stated that, in most cases, if a home is on the market it will sell unless there’s something wrong with it. She indicated there is a particular shortage of one story homes to meet the demand from retirees and others tired of climbing stairs, adding that if one goes on the market, and is less than 20 years old, it will sell quickly.
“Overall this is one of the better years our office has had,” Woodson said. He described the early spring market as “hot,” suggesting that rising interest rates may have encouraged some buyers to get moving. This was followed by a bit of a slowdown, but “all of a sudden” things picked up again at the end of June, he added.
Woodson has a note of caution for sellers, however, stating that while the current market offers good news, they still need to consult with their REALTOR® and be realistic about pricing their homes to sell them in a reasonable amount of time.
New construction options have been limited in Greene for some time, much to the dismay of agents and their buyers. This year they are delighted about a Ryan Homes subdivision called Oxford Hills that just opened and offers both one and two level floor plans at modest prices.
“They are swamped,” Barefoot said stating that in the first three days the neighborhood was open for business they sold 33 homes. Prices for a one story floor plan with a two car garage start at the upper $230 thousands, while a four bedroom two story model starts at the low $260 thousands.
Woodson echoed her sentiments when he described the large number of contracts in Oxford Hills in the first two months. He added that they are already selling lots in the neighborhood’s second and third phases. “There is an unbelievable amount of interest,” he concluded.
He expressed optimism that the success of this new neighborhood will offer proof to other developers that there is a huge demand for new homes in Greene County.
Greene appeals to a wide range of buyers from first timers to growing families, retirees and down sizers and returning UVA grads.
With its easy commute to nearby urban centers, Greene attracts people that work at NGIC, UVA Research Park and elsewhere in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Culpeper. The local school system is a big plus, with its highly qualified teaching and professional staff, 51 percent of whom have advanced (Masters or Doctorate) degrees.
Barefoot’s three children grew up in Greene County and she gives the school system high marks. A big benefit is the cooperative program between the local high school and PVCC at the Eugene Giuseppe Center in Stanardsville, where two of her children joined other area youngsters and graduated from high school with a substantial number of college credits.
Retirees from around the country read about the benefits of living in Charlottesville and gravitate to Greene attracted by its reasonable home prices and low property taxes. Northerners tired of shoveling snow in frigid temperatures also appreciate our area’s milder climate that still has four seasons.
Home buyers “get more bang for their bucks in Greene,” Woodson said. Higher end buyers can find homes for $300 to $450 thousand compared to Albemarle where the same house could cost $550 thousand or more. Greene offers these buyers the chance to move up, and still have a reasonable commute to Charlottesville.
Business and Tourists Welcome
A sign that says “Open for Business,” greets everyone driving into Greene County. The sign expresses the County’s commitment to a business-friendly environment. An example is its investment in a sewer system along the Route 29 corridor and down Route 33 to accommodate business expansion.
Greene also proudly encourages tourists to learn about the County’s history starting with the golden horseshoe that figures prominently in the County shield commemorating a famous expedition to Swift Run Gap in 1716. Legend has it that the expedition leader, Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spottswood, gave golden horseshoes to followers in commemoration of this trip.
Every April Civil War buffs can watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Stanardsville, an engagement between the Confederate Cavalry of J.E.B. Stuart and General George Custer’s Union troops. The annual event “captures not just the battle itself, but the mood of its people” and how they survived. It includes family-friendly activities, music and dancing.
Another highly anticipated event is the annual Virginia Clay Festival in Stanardsville September 22 and 23. The Clay Festival is “an art show celebrating the creative possibilities of clay.” It features Virginia potters, sculptors and jewelers along with music, food and children’s activities.
On October 13, bikers are invited to participate in the Tour de Greene, a fully supported 25, 40, and 60 mile ride through Greene’s scenic back roads followed by an after party with live music.
If you look forward to a nice private home site after a long day at work and love the idea of a short commute to town, call your REALTOR® today about Greene County. The views are amazing and the amount of house and land your money can buy will surprise you.
Celeste Smucker is a writer and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.