REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Walking distance: Ivy house a stone's throw from school


ADDRESS: 2710 Willow Oak Circle


ASKING: $567,500

ASSESSMENT: $555,000


SIZE: 2,751 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 3.170 acres

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet of ReMax Realty Specialists 974-1500 

How often do we have a chance to print residents' reminiscences about their days in the house we're featuring? Memories by the people who lived in this almost-hidden two-story colonial in Ivy seem worth reporting because the house is within walking distance of highly regarded elementary school Meriwether Lewis, and the reminiscences are by one of the children who set off through the woods behind the house each morning for the short trek to class. As much as extra bathrooms and spacious family rooms, such proximity could be considered a valuable amenity to potential buyers with elementary school-age children.

Now a second-year college student, the writer was in the fourth grade when he moved to Ivy. Any parent contemplating a move to this school district will probably be thrilled with the prospect of having junior traipse the short distance to school (and home), eliminating all the pesky picking up and waiting around associated with being driven or waiting for buses, especially if junior enjoys the walk as much as this young man seems to have.

"It was nice that I could walk and still leave home 10 minutes later than if I had to catch the bus," he remembers. "And when school would close early, everyone else would have to wait around a long time for the bus, but I could just walk right home." Staying late for clubs and having friends over without the hassle of "permission slips" to change buses are other perks he remembers about living so close to school.

The boy's nature-loving Dad remembers the deer they saw on their walks to and from, the sudden flights of startled doves, and the rain-swollen creek that followed their path. 

But no one buys property just so children can walk to school. The house itself has to have some appeal. Many of the good things about this house, however, are closely related to its location and are things that make it good for a family with children: its position on a cul-de-sac, its sweeping backyard leading down to the creek that Dad and son followed, and its potential for separate living quarters in the basement– for when the kids grow up.

A parquet-floor entry area cramped by one of two sets of stairs leads through French doors to the dining room on the left with pretty woodwork in chair rail and ceiling molding. The living room also has a chair rail, and the family room has a wood-burning fireplace, touches that provide interest in an otherwise unexceptional space. Carpeting everywhere except in the entryway and kitchen also strikes an odd note, but the agent explains that these aspects are typical of late-'80s construction.

A big deck running the length of the house provides views of the hardwood forest at the back of the lot; the deck covers a large hot tub/spa on the ground level. The ground-level space is currently divided into a large home office on one side and a family room with a second fireplace on the other. A full bath connects the two sides, and a little reconfiguring could create spacious separate living quarters there.

On the third floor, the master suite over the garage consists of two rooms, one with skylights, storage under the eaves, and two large walk-in closets, all accessed by a separate back stairway. Three other bedrooms– two large, one small enough to be a study or nursery– round out the upstairs with two full baths.

The two-car garage itself is very large, with high ceilings and plenty of room to stash things other than the cars. 

Much of the house remains as it was in the '80s, which is always good for a new buyer– no guilt about changing something recent. Upgrades like a new front door are more problematic; they may not appeal to every taste but they're too recent to justify changing. 

In all, this house embodies the old adage we often quote: what matters in real estate is location. Parents who want the walk-to-school convenience of a city neighborhood– in a county community with one of the best schools around– will probably be willing to overlook the negatives about the house itself.

After all, they won't even notice the ugly front door because they'll be out back waving to their kids as they head off down the woodsy path, swinging their lunch pails on the way to school.


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