4811 Grassy Knoll - 3 BR, 2.5 baths, 3,136 sq. ft., list price: $239,900, assessment: $244,500, Jennifer Robertson, The Realty Dot, Inc. so this is technically a FSBO (for sale by owner) - 434-823-2175
3105 Morewood Lane - 2 BR, 2 bathrooms, 1,438 sq. ft., list price: $235,000, assessment: $281,600, Martha deJarnette, Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates - 434-981-3957
Subdivision: Highlands at Mechums River
Price range: $163,000-$386,000
Schools: Crozet, Henley, Western Albemarle
Pros: pretty area, friendly neighbors, decent value, low maintenance
Cons: disparate HOAs, lack of sidewalks
The sign that sits along Route 240 heading into Crozet is deceptively simple. It reads only “Highlands,” giving no hint that there are actually five subdivisions situated within the one neighborhood, each parceled off a larger piece of land that Hunter Craig purchased back in the early 1990’s.
The Highlands itself, a mixture of attached and detached homes built soon after Craig's purchase, comprises three of the five subdivisions. Arranged along cul-de-sacs that branch off the main access road, the cedar-sided duplexes and single-family homes typically feature open floor plans with first-floor masters and vaulted ceilings and lofts, and many enjoy mountain views and mature landscaping.
The other two subdivisions are the Village at Highlands, a group of brick-sided homes of newer vintage that offer mostly one-level living, and Rockbridge, an enclave of single-family homes that fronts the area adjacent to Route 240. In total, there are 321 homes within the neighborhood.
The Highlands real estate market has been fairly active over the past couple of years with 39 sales noted in the MLS (multiple listing system), a number of which were foreclosures. Of the sales, 32 were in the Highlands, nine were in the Village and seven were in Rockbridge.
Judy Savage of the Savage Team at RE/MAX Assured Properties has handled numerous listings and sales in the Highlands over the past two years and feels that the homes there represent decent investments.
“It’s a pretty area, there’s not much maintenance, and it’s a good value for the money. The floor plans are very similar to what you find in Mill Creek,” she says, “but at lower prices.”
Savage’s opinion is supported by a Highlands resident who described the neighborhood on a local real estate blog as “Big bang for your buck as far as attached homes that don’t feel attached.”
Sale prices over the past two years have ranged from $163,000 for an older, 1,200-sq. ft. unit in the Highlands to $386,236 for a newer, 3,000-sq. ft. home in the Village. Prices on the four current active listings in the Highlands and Rockbridge range from $184,000 to $239,900.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t potential drawbacks, however. One resident notes that the absence of a single, cohesive HOA detracts from the sense of community. Indeed, there are five separate associations in the Highlands: one for the older attached homes, another for the detached homes, a third for the second-phase of attached homes, and one each for the Village and Rockbridge. A visual representation found on the Highlands at Mechums River Owners Association site sheds some light on the subject, but the exact fees each association charges and the items covered vary significantly. Dues range from $48 per year (no exterior maintenance included) to $90/month (yard work and roof repair included) to $155/month (exterior maintenance covered).
Another potential drawback, mentioned by more than one Highlander, is the lack of sidewalks, specifically those that would make downtown Crozet a comfortable and safe walking destination.
Attached homes and single-family houses built on slabs aren’t for everyone, but the rate of activity within the Highlands and the diverse demographic, which includes retirees, singles, and families with young children, prove that it appeals to a significant number of buyers in today’s market.