1700 Bent Tree Court - 4 BR, 3 full & 1 half-bath, 3199 sq. ft., .39 acres, asking price: 349,900, assessment: $302,700, Cynthia Viejo, Nest Realty Group, 434-981-2419
328 Copper Hill Drive - 3 BR, 2 full & 2 half-baths, 4171 sq. ft., .35 acres, asking price: $360,000, assessment: $322,200, Jim Duncan, Nest Realty Group, 434-242-7140
Location: Mill Creek
Price range: $125,000-$360,000
Schools: Cale, Walton, Monticello
Pros: affordable homes, functional floor plans, convenient location
Cons: topography, siting of homes on some lots
Uniformity is one word that comes to mind when driving through Mill Creek. Perhaps even conformity. The houses, a mix of single family and attached homes on lots ranging from a quarter to a third of an acre, are all of similar design, construction and HOA-approved color, right down to the mailboxes that line the streets.
Both the Mill Creek Homeowner’s Association and the Mill Creek South Association maintain websites that include information about the neighborhood, newsletters, and lists of board members. Homeowners’ dues range from $85 per year to $200 per month for those homes that have exterior maintenance included.
Though the homogeneity and the tight control exerted by the HOA may not appeal to some, there are plenty of purchasers who find Mill Creek and Mill Creek South quite attractive.
"Generally, these are both really good neighborhoods," says Jim Duncan, a real estate agent with Nest Realty Group and the listing agent for 328 Copper Hill Drive. "The build quality and the location— especially the proximity to both UVA and I-64— have always been draws."
Situated just 10 minutes from Charlottesville’s downtown area (even less at off-hours), Mill Creek was developed in the late 1980s. For a subdivision of this vintage, it was ahead of its time, according to Duncan.
"The floor plans were very forward thinking, especially since the homes were built 15-20 years ago,” he says. “Those open plans are still viable today."
Similar designs and plans found in the Highlands in Crozet have drawn inevitable comparisons between the two developments, and the lower prices in the Highlands understandably garner a degree of interest from propspective purchasers.
"It's not uncommon for a buyer to target Mill Creek and end up in the Highlands out in Crozet,” Duncan says. “And it's true— you can get more bang for your buck in the Highlands, but it's wise to factor transportation costs into the equation. That's a conversation I have with almost all my buyers."
Kristin Cummings Streed of Loring Woodriff Real Estate Associates echoes Duncan’s assessment of the appeal of Mill Creek’s location along with a few additional benefits.
“That area is slated to tap into the Biscuit Run trail system, which is also a plus,” she says. “It’s a well-established neighborhood, the floor plans are efficient, and the houses tend to sell quickly,” she says, adding that her listing at 1327 Gristmill Drive received top marks in a recent LEAP Home Energy Review.
So what about drawbacks?
Sometimes described as resembling a mountain village, Mill Creek has its share of heavily wooded lots along with a substantial number of peaks and valleys that don’t necessarily appeal to all buyers.
“The topography of the subdivision and the siting of some of the homes can be a potential drawback,” Streed explains. “Not all buyers respond well to houses that are situated below the level of the road.”
And given the age of many of the homes, upkeep can be an issue.
“This subdivision was created in the 90s,” Streed says, “so you see some of the normal maintenance issues that come up as homes get older.”
According to the MLS (Multiple Listing System), Jim Duncan reports 12 sales since the first of the year, seven properties currently under contract, and six active listings— statistics that appear to bode well for those marketing their homes.
“The Mill Creek market is active,” Duncan says. “It had a downturn, just like all markets, but it seems that the prices are stabilizing.
"As with any market, price is dependent on the product," he notes. "If a house has been updated, it has a better chance of selling for a strong price. If it needs a lot of work, it's harder to sell."