Spotlight on Dunlora

Community:  Dunlora
Location:  East Rio Road
Schools:  Agnor-Hurt, Burley, Albemarle
Price range:  $327,500-$595,000

Pros: Convenient location, neighborhood amenities
Cons: HOA dues, topography

Back in 1730, the name Dunlora referred to 5,000 acres of land along the Rivanna River granted by King George II to Major Thomas Carr for “services to the Crown.” These days, Dunlora as we know it is a residential community of just under 400 homes. Situated on East Rio Road, Dunlora offers convenient access to both the music and restaurants found on the Downtown Mall– which will become an even shorter drive or bike ride when the Meadowcreek Parkway is completed– and the national chains and discounted shopping found in the big-box stores on Route 29.  

Marjorie Adam, a realtor with Nest Realty, has first-hand knowledge of Dunlora. Not only have she and her family built and occupied two homes there, she– along with her business partner and brother, Jacques Gates-– has also sold more than 70 houses in the Dunlora community during the 18 years she’s been in the real estate business.

According to Adam, moving from one home to another within the Dunlora neighborhood, as she and her own family did, is not unusual. “Multiple families have lived in more than one house in Dunlora,” she says.

Adam explains that the original portion of the subdivision featured approximately 300 detached single-family homes like the ones pictured here. River Crest villas, the majority of which are attached one-level homes, came later. The mix of housing styles contibrutes to a demographic that spans all ages and stages of life by allowing growing families to upsize and empty-nesters to downsize without having to leave the neighborhood.

Homes in Dunlora are subject to homeowners association dues, which cover road maintenance and trash pickup and help make amenities such as the clubhouse, pool, soccer fields, play area, and garden plots available to the residents. The River Crest villas include an additional fee to cover exterior maintenance in addition to the other amenities, and all of the residents have access to hiking and biking trails that connect to the Rivanna River trail system.

Sales activity in Dunlora tends to be fairly consistent. A search of the MLS shows 20 sales in 2011 and 16 in 2012, two of which were in the newly developed Dunlora Gates (more on this in a moment). Sale prices for those two years ranged from $327,500 to $595,000, figures that may deter some purchasers, especially first-time buyers. Add on the HOA dues, which range from $770/year for a single-family home to over $2,700/year for a maintenance-free one-level home, and it's easy to understand why Dunlora is widely viewed as an expensive and upscale subdivision.

According to the MLS, there are 15 current listings in Dunlora – good news for those sellers given the sales statistics of the last couple of years – but here’s where things get confusing. See, of these 15 homes, only five are actually in Dunlora. The others are located in either Dunlora Gates or Dunlora Forest, which share the Dunlora name but not the amenities. So buyers who want the status of saying that they live in Dunlora can buy an attached home in Dunlora Forest with energy efficient construction and universal design elements like wider corridors, step-free entrances and minimal threshold doorways, but they can’t use the pool.

When asked about the downside of life in Dunlora, Adam is hard-pressed to find one. "I guess if there’s a con, it might be the topography,” she says, explaining that Dunlora was built with a focus on privacy and that the rolling topography lends itself to that. “The backyard at my first house was steep,” Adam says. “I certainly didn’t mind having a bit of a ski slope, but some buyers might.”

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Disgusting. Who would want to live in a nasty subdivision like dunlora? Twenty feet from your neighbor, ski slope for a yard and built on top of slave graves. Sounds lovely... Yuppie scum.

@really?, you are just jealous.

No mention of the average lot size per McMansion but my guess would be .22 acre on average. Muhahahahhahahaa! Thats POINT 22 as in the King would have you in the stocks and take your land back from you for having such a puny lot.

I can however personally attest that the clubhouse is pretty fantastic. I want you to really? let your imagination go on this one...

Most of the houses in the subdivisions rimming Charlottesville were slapped together with staple guns, spit and glue.

Place a marble in the center of any room and watch it roll rapidly in the direction of the slant. Behold the widening cracks where walls join at the corners. Celebrate the expense of a new roof because the original shingles were the cheapest on the market and wore out in a few years. Enjoy the sparking electricity and dimming lights because the installed breaker board is inadequate to satisfy the household power consumption. Ah, and let us not forget the plumbing...

Buying a house in an Albemarle County subdivision is a fool's game: pay sucker prices to get subpar construction.

Pfft, unless you were smart enough to pick the older "subdivisions", no HOA, I have over a half acre and house is brick and built in the 1970s, it ain't going anywhere and is well built. Wasn't looking for a new home built as you describe but one that was built to last and got that. We are a stones throw away from Dunlora.

Pretty sure the slave graveyard is back near the original Dunlora plantation, about a mile back on an old dirt road.

@Pfft has it exactly right. Unfortunately, this isn't true of just Dunlora or the C'ville area: it's pretty much everywhere. Crummy construction combined with authoritarian private governments known as 'HOAs' where the builders dump all their liability when they're ready to pull out (dumping the liability for the crummy construction back on their victims - the homeowners).

The "Dunlora Forest" new thing on Rio Rd is pretty sad.

First thing they did was doze all the trees.

What forest?

Looks more like a strip mine. And there is mud up and down Rio rd from run-off.