Price range: $575,000-$5,900,000
Schools: Murray, Henley, Western Albemarle
Pros: location, amenities, beautiful neighborhood
Cons: high cost of ownership, close identification with club
“Farmington is primarily identified by the club,” says Elizabeth Feil Matthews, a realtor with McLean Faulconer and listing agent for the home that sits at 935 Windsor Road.
The club Matthews refers to was built sometime prior to 1780 on land confiscated from Francis Jerdone, a Tory. Mr. Jerdone regained ownership of his estate and sold it in 1785 to George Divers, who obtained plans drawn by Thomas Jefferson to augment the home with the addition of a two-room octagonal structure.
The notion of transforming the Farmington estate of nearly 1,000 acres into a club first materialized in 1927, and the vision became a reality on May 15, 1929 when Farmington Country Club officially opened its doors. While club policy long banned minorities, a revolt at UVA launched in 1973 by then-Student Council president and now esteemed Politics Professor Larry Sabato– detailed in a 2001 UVA publication titled "Beyond Black and White" – led to the club changing its membership policy after its members purchased the club in 1979.
Nowadays, membership is open to all races, creeds, nationalities and genders but it's still by invitation only, unless you happen to buy a home in the neighborhood.
“You don’t have to be a member to buy in Farmington,” Matthews says. “But you’re eligible [to join] if you do, and some people make the club their social scene, as well.”
Club amenities, which include a variety of dining options and social activities, a pool, tennis courts, a fitness center and a Fred Findlay-designed golf course, are certainly a draw for a number of buyers, who pay up to $18,500 to join, and up to $600 per month in dues for club membership. But there are additional features that Elizabeth Feil Matthews believes set it apart.
“It’s a beautiful neighborhood, the homes are well-built and secure, and there’s not a lot of turnover. It means a lot to have a community where people can walk and run and be safe, and it’s nice to have dining and entertainment availbable right here in the subdivision.”
“There are certainly other upscale neighborhoods to choose from,” she says, “and the cost to get into them is often comparable, but the location, the easy access to UVA and the quality of the amenities help set Farmington apart.”
So what is the cost of buying into the Farmington community?
The MLS reports nine sales in Farmington over the past two years with prices between $575,000 and $2,100,000, well above the Albemarle County median sales price of $290,000. Currently, there are five houses for sale in Farmington with prices ranging from $999,000 to $5,900,000, figures that preclude the majority of buyers.
Farmington residents aren’t saddled with overly steep HOA dues, however. Covering upkeep of the common areas, road maintenance (including snow removal), and security, the dues are a modest $600 per year. Of course, club membership costs, greens fees, and dining expenses are significantly more.
But the prices are obviously not a deterrent for some. Matthews observes, “There are always buyers waiting for a house in Farmington. It’s a highly desirable area and an excellent real estate investment.”
As to the distinction between Farmington and Farmington Heights, Matthews points out that the homes accessed through the back entrance and situated along the East 9 share both the Farmington address and the association with the country club.
With stately homes that date to the late 1920’s, spacious, park-like lots, and meticulously maintained grounds, what’s not to like about Farmington? For those who want their showcase home and social scene wrapped up in views of a rolling golf course with mountains beyond, there’s a lot to like here.
On a practical note, however, there’s the inconvenience of the railroad that runs along the front entrance and sometimes blocks access to the multi-million-dollar mansions situated on the wrong side of the tracks.
Perhaps less tangible is the potential objection some buyers may have to the aforementioned association between the neighborhood and the club. As Elizabeth Feil Matthews observes, “Not everyone wants to be involved in a country club.”