Right now is an incredible confluence of events in the real estate world. Prices of homes seem to have bottomed out in 2011 and are expected to increase slowly over the next five years. Mortgage rates are also at an all-time low with 30-year fixed rates at under 4 percent.
This situation has turned itself into a solid opportunity for those looking to invest in second homes in the Virginia and Maryland countryside. Real estate development companies that specialize in country living are holding onto steady and well-priced properties that offer the same low-cost, low-mortgage benefits as the rest of the country, inside a radius of which Washington residents can take full advantage.
Within a 30-minute to three-hour drive of the city, sprawling country and waterfront estates are waiting to be bought up. From Keswick, to Middleburg, to the foothills of West Virginia and Maryland, it’s a great time to get a foothold in countryside real estate.
Middleburg is a great place to start looking. The Virginia countryside has long been a favorite area for Washingtonians’ interest in country living. Renowned for its prominence in the horse world with its several hunts, horse farms, and abundant open countryside, the area draws worldwide interest.
There is also some worthy real estate news for the Middleburg area. Thomas Anderson, president of Washington Fine Properties, has announced that his brokerage firm, long regarded for its luxury market success here in the Capital Region, will now operate their brokerages in Middleburg and Washington, Virginia as Washington Fine Properties.
“I’m so excited about this,” says Anderson. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I know the upper end market very well. This change allows us to offer our clients in Middleburg and the Virginia countryside maximum exposure for their farms and properties through the direct connection to Washington Fine Properties.”
Anderson, who has worked with the well-known Middleburg firm Armfield, Miller & Ripley founding partners Gloria Armfield, Carole Miller, and Ruth Ripley for over 25 years, is honored to now be heading the firm. Washington is the primary feeder market for the Middleburg area, and this merger of Washington Fine Properties’ offices is meaningful in further strengthening the bond between these complementary locations.
“Everyone knows it’s not only quite special and important in terms of being perhaps the greatest hunt country territory in America,” he says, “but for the sheer beauty of its remarkably undisturbed landscape.”
Helen MacMahon, of the Middleburg-based Sheridan-MacMahon Realtors, is also optimistic with the direction of the market. “People are surprised that what they thought were low offers are being accepted,” she says. “Things are also being priced correctly. That’s why there are so many places under contract now.”
MacMahon is anticipating new inventory this fall, as buyers and sellers settle in from the summer. Yet August, she admits, “has been crazy—we’ve had more properties go under contract in the last six weeks than in I don’t know how long.”
Keswick Estates, Keswick, Virginia
Sitting on 600 acres, Keswick Hall is a sprawling country estate in the lush foothills of Keswick, Va., perhaps one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. With the very best of comfort and accommodations, couples spa treatments, exceptional wines both local and international, and world-class cuisine, Keswick Hall brings together all the luxuries of the world’s finest resorts with the distinct character of the Virginia region. They also have a large handful of estates and homes for sale in their private neighborhood—perfect for those who want to live in the lap of quiet luxury.
With over thirty available lots available, the prices range from the $300,000 to the $650,000 range—well under the million-dollar mark. For the remarkable beauty of the area and the world class amenities just down the street, these houses are worth considering, and now is a good time for a few reasons.
“I can say that right now we are in the process of evaluating the master plan for Keswick Hall and the club itself,” says principle realtor Jeff Galanti, who works for Riverstone Properties, the firm that acquired the Keswick Hall Estate from Orient Express last year. “While the results are still to be determined, we will be enhancing the property, which will certainly add value to those lots and homes. I’d say it’s better to get in before these things happen rather than after, when prices will likely go up.”
To get an idea of what Riverstone will be planning with Keswick Hall, Galanti points to the firm’s other resorts for a portfolio. Among others, the firm owns the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, and Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, where they just had the PGA championship.
Thomas Jefferson called this area of the country the “Eden of the United States,” and Keswick Hall holds true to this claim.
The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
The Greenbrier has distinctive and beautiful neighborhoods peppered throughout the lush estate of its historic resort. West Virginia real estate and luxury golf course homes feature fairway, creekside or mountain views, with many enjoying close proximity to the resort and Greenbrier Sporting Club amenities.
Greenbrier estates have many options. You can choose to be in the center of everything with a home in Copeland Hill, its first neighborhood, or if you enjoy privacy with spectacular views, a home in The Ridges might more to your liking. Whichever property you choose, it is a property that you and your family can call home for generations to come.
Creighton Farms, Aldie, Virginia
Conveniently located on Route 15 in the scenic Route 50 corridor, near to the shops and restaurants of historic Leesburg and Middleburg and within minutes of Dulles Airport and Tysons Corner, Creighton Farms is a community for those who don’t want the luxury and privacy of a first-rate community without having to drive an hour outside the city.
Creighton Farms also has a large handful of luxury home sites with dramatic views of woods, meadows, mountain ranges or their gold course. The sweeping vistas, style and club community are available as a limited edition for most homeowners.
Wintergreen Real Estate, Wintergreen, Virginia
A peaceful resort community nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, close to Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington, D.C., Wintergreen Real Estate offers year-round living inspired by seasonal magnificence in a combination of mountain and valley settings, both complete with world-class golf, tennis, swimming, miles of marked trails, and countless other amenities. After almost a decade of careful planning and design, Wintergreen was founded in 1974 by agents of Wintergreen Real Estate Company.
No matter what you are looking for, from a house on a mountain top to land in the magnificent rolling valleys and mountains of Central Virginia, you will find it here. Wintergreen Real Estate has a constantly-changing collection of houses, condos, and land in and around the Wintergreen Resort.
The firm also has access to countryside estates in Nelson County, home to thousands of acres of farmland, gorgeous estates, and homes of all sizes. Just thirty minutes outside of Charlottesville, Nelson County offers peace and seclusion within a stone’s throw of a great community.
East Beach, Norfolk, Virginia
East Beach is a waterfront community in Norfolk, Va., designed and built in the tradition of Atlantic Coastal villages. Beautifully crafted homes reflect the timeless architectural character of traditional Tidewater Virginia homes.
East Beach is located just ten minutes from Norfolk International Airport, and twenty minutes from downtown Norfolk. The community is right on the Chesapeake Bay where the Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. In only ten minutes, you can walk from the beach at the north end of the community to your boat at the deepwater marinas at the south end of the community. For beach or bay-loving homeowners, this would be the community for you.