REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Blue collar cottage: Practical and affordable in Woolen Mills


Address: 1409 Short 18th Street

Neighborhood: Woolen Mills

Asking: $209,900

Assessment: $156,000

Year Built: 1961

Size: 835 fin. sq. ft. 

Land: 0.17 acres

Agent: Roger Voisinet, RE/MAX Realty Specialists 434-981-1076

Curb Appeal: 7 out of 10

In 2006, the current owner purchased this house for its dog-friendly fencing, Rivanna Trail access, and country-in-the-city feel. Three years later, these are still the property's best features.

Located on a one-way side street near Meade Park, this petite blue place is smaller than its neighbors, with a little dirt under its fingernails. The house wasn't built based on consumer studies or focus group feedback. It's a simple, cozy, low-maintenance place with enough room for a couple to spread out without stepping on each other's toes. 

A white picket fence frames a small front porch leading to a comfortable living/dining room with sage walls, knotty pine flooring, and a low seven-foot ceiling. Oddly enough, the kitchen is stuffed into a nook off this room, adjacent to the porch. Another unusual feature is a narrow strip of grey tile— about three feet wide— paralleling the kitchen countertops. It's an odd offshoot of the knotty pine, and the tile might make more sense— and set the kitchen apart from the dining space— if it covered more area. 

The kitchen's color scheme— white, black, and grey— works. It looks like the kitchen's been updated within the last five years, with a glass-top Frigidaire stove and elegant burnished grey hardware. It's small, but functional as long as owners don't need a pantry.

The house's sole bathroom, however, could use an update. While it's surprisingly spacious for such a compact home, the shower looks like it's been in place for a decade (or three). A quirky white-and-tan wall tile mosaic provides visual interest opposite the toilet; more conventional stone tiles cover the floor. 

The house's three bedrooms are all about the same size. It would be easy to set one bedroom up as a master, one as a guest room, and one as a study. But with small closets and no basement or utility room, a storage-seeking owner may have to get creative. This is the kind of house for which under-bed storage bins were invented. 

There is, however, a low-rise attic, but it's awkwardly accessed through a small square in the ceiling of a bedroom closet. That might be fine for Christmas ornaments, but we wouldn't want to climb up there more than twice a year.

The owner currently keeps the washer and dryer visible in the back bedroom; a closet rod strung up across that area could hold curtains to cordon off the laundry area. 

The grassy backyard is pleasant, bordered by a 4-foot-high chain-link fence, with raised beds for gardening and a winter view of the Rivanna River through the trees. A rough trail leading down to the water joins up with the Rivanna Trail— easy access for running and off-leash dog walking (on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays ). 

In addition to its park proximity, the house is exactly a mile to the Downtown Mall and just two blocks from fresh vegetables at the Meade Park farmer's market . 

While prized by residents for its diversity, Woolen Mills does lack the tight-knit, urban walkability of upscaling neighbor Belmont. But as Charlottesvillians tightens their belts, the gritty, blue-color roots of Woolen Mills may become attractive to home buyers who enjoy paying both the mortgage and the grocery bill.

The yuppie recreational perks mean this house could be a starter home for an active single or young couple. At $209,000, it's an affordable place, albeit an astonishing 133 percent premium over the real estate assessment. But finding a move-in quality Charlottesville home on a quiet side street for under $250,000 is rare, even in these rough economic times. We give the place props for that alone.




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"At $209,000, it's an affordable place, albeit an astonishing 133 percent premium over the real estate assessment."

If that were correct, the price would be $363,480 on your reported assessed value of $156,000

On another topic, the attitude that since a shower has worked for 10 years that there is something wrong with it and it need replacement is exactly the sort of stupidity that has given us "these rough economic times."

If a "blue collar worker" got an FHA loan on this and put 3.5% down, that's about $7,100.

Then the monthly mortgage payment, plus City taxes, and private mortgage insurance, give this place a $1549.00 monthly payment.

That's not blue collar. That's Generation Y--the under 40's, a couple with two incomes.

This is the price a starter home should be. But this isn't a starter home, it's a place a single person lives instead of a condo.

Great example of how inflated/what's wrong with the Cville market!

And for more, check out the local realtor association's economic report:

Prices are coming down...just more slowly than in the rest of the state. But falling, and falling a lot.