Proffit Road? Fix the garden, head to the bank

ADDRESS: 3141 Proffit Road

ASKING: $389,000

SIZE: 2,600 fin. sq. ft.


NEIGHBORHOOD: Albemarle County

CURB APPEAL: 7 of 10

LISTED BY: Roger Voisinet 974-1500, 981-1076

Talk about a property being able to live up to its name– or at least its address: 3141 Proffit Road is for sale again, slightly less than four years since it last changed hands. And– no surprise– the price tag is now more than three times its previous selling price, according to publicly posted Albemarle County real estate information. From a quick stroll around the grounds of this almost two-acre parcel, there's every reason to think that there's no end in sight for its spiraling value.

The interior of this sprawling turn-of-the-century farmhouse has been significantly upgraded by the current owner, but he clearly liked to work indoors more than out. A colorful flyer promoting the property demurely notes that the "wooded private grounds are waiting for the touch of a master gardener/landscaper."

A little more than "a touch" is needed.

Some serious bush-hogging in the back 40 and round-the-clock– or at least round-the-weekends– weeding, trimming, and re-planting of the many neglected flower beds scattered around this stately home will be required to reclaim it from the wilderness. Still– as the agent noted while we carefully picked our way through the overgrowth that used to be the back yard– with the right kind of attention, the place "could look like a million dollars."

While he was speaking figuratively, the basics are all there to make his statement literally come true, especially with real estate values in northern Albemarle County on an upward track with the planned road and retail "improvements" in and around the airport and along U.S. 29.

For starters, despite being less than a half-mile from the intersection of 29 and Airport Road, the house is virtually invisible at the driveway's turnoff from Proffit Road. The gravel drive winds upward between some very tall white pines that hide the impressive bulk of this two-story house from passersby.

The aura here is old, but improvements are pragmatic and up-to-date. Symmetrically stacked pairs of windows on the front of the house behind towering two-story columns evoke a Southern plantation look. The shutters are new and easily maintained vinyl instead of the original wood; the windows are energy-efficient replacements, too. The white strip exterior looks like original farmhouse construction but is actually aluminum siding.

Vintage radiators in downstairs rooms (with 9' ceilings!) provide heat (the coal fireplaces are just for show); plans for central air are being drawn up by the owner. The hardwood floors are original but newly and nicely restored. Big floor tiles in the large kitchen at the rear look like earth-toned ceramic but are really new vinyl squares. Bathrooms throughout the house (3.5 in all) offer another nice mix of old and new with modern fixtures and painted bead board walls.

Some serious upgrading and rearranging of space has been going on upstairs, too. With two of the baths directly off large bedroom areas that can easily be called "master suites," there are some wide-ranging options here, not the least of which had one visitor thinking "bed & breakfast."

The two front bedrooms (out of four upstairs) offer mountain vistas to the south even through the heavily leafed oaks and maples of summertime. A rear bedroom with an enclosed stairway leads directly down into the kitchen– a teenager's or Dagwood's dream-come true.

Side views east and west do partially overlook neighboring homes, for the property is longer than it is wide, with the house situated about halfway back.

Back out in the yard, there's plenty that doesn't need chopping down. Several outbuildings look sturdy enough to become workshops, potting sheds, or simply protected storage– once windows are repaired and interiors revamped. Ditto for the musty half basement/cellar under the kitchen where the propane-fueled hot water heater lives. There's a classic brick barbecue station, and even a stand of wire trellises supporting a few remaining clusters of a dark purple grape for would-be vintners.

In short, this one's not ever going to be maintenance-free, but it has the potential to earn a fair amount of sweat equity for green thumb-ed visionaries who aspire to live on the road to Proffit.