While on my first airline trip since the start of the COVID pancemic, to visit my about to turn 21 son in June 2022, who was interning in Wichita, Kansas, I took a phone call from a researcher at the Fox Business Channel which had picked up our exquisite Llangollen listing. "We'd like to feature Llangollen in the next season of Mansion Global." he said. "Do you think your clients would be interested?".
That call resulted in a day long July film shoot in Upperville, Virginia, at the 1,100 acre property with its magnificent house, spanning two centuries of development from its original patent house, built in 1795 through additions in 1830, 1918, 1930 and finally 1990. Apart from a little accidental embellishment claiming that George Washington stayed there, which he did not, although he did survey the original land at and around Llangollen, the piece beautifully showcases this very special equestrian property called Llangollen. Enjoy! ⬇️
The Mille Miglia car race began in Brescia, Italy in 1927 and soon became one of the world's foremost iconic car events. In 1977, its format was modified from a race to a time trial, or regularity rally, and every year, owner drivers of classic cars have gathered in Italy to drive the 1,000 mile, or mille miglia event.
In 2019, the event came to the USA with its inaugural Warm Up USA edition based in our very own Town of Middleburg. That year, despite relatively little in the way of preparation, it was a resounding success both in town and around the area, with cars driving a total of 500 miles, ending up at the Italian Ambassador's residence in Washington DC.
Then came the global pandemic, with Italy suffering more than many countries, but they are a resilient people and today we welcome the Mille Miglia Warm Up USA back to Middleburg, for its 2022 edition, bigger and better than ever!
The five day event includes several send offs from the town's visitors center, the Pink Box, with kids from the Middleburg Community Charter School and the Hill School providing their energy and voices to spur on the competitors. In total, the cars will travel 500 miles over the course of the event, an excellent preparation for the full Mille Miglia next year in Italy.
Friday afternoon will see a time trial race on Madison Street followed by a good old fashioned street party for all the community, and on Saturday, the racers will start with Cars and Cappuccino at Creighton Farms, followed by a drive to the Italian Ambassador's official residence in Washington DC, and culminating in a cocktail party at the Salamander Resort & Spa here in Middleburg.
Middleburg has so much to offer year round; come and see us at our historic office on West Washington Street, formerly a tavern, dating back to the 1800's.
Local market update
There's no doubt about it, the real estate environment is in a different place today compared with a year ago, but is it a bad thing?
If we take a look back, the dreaded COVID years of 2020 and 2021 created an unexpected boom in our industry, to put it lightly. In early 2020, when masks and lockdowns and latex gloves and shoe covers were de rigueur, we all assumed that our businesses would come to a grinding halt, however, in Virginia, real estate brokers were deemed an essential service and we were allowed to continue to do business.
Gradually, but pretty quickly, we saw folks packing up and moving away from big cities in search of open space and fresh air. As a consequence, property prices began to escalate while mortgage rates tumbled to record lows in the 2.5% region.
It seemed that these increasing home prices did not deter buyers, in fact for two years, most properties listed at then realistic prices went under contract within days, and following multiple offers with increasingly escalating offer prices but with correspondingly fewer, if any, contingencies.
We have all witnessed the significant rise in inflation which has caused mortgage rates to more than double in just a few months, meaning that buyers' affordability has been dramatically reduced. So here we are, with a market which has corrected, yet prices are still far higher than they were two years ago, and inventory remains very low.
For buyers and their agents, respite is here because they are no longer fighting to win with their offers against multiple other offers, waiving important contingencies such as home inspections and well and septic.
The panel below, courtesy of the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®, provides a nice snapshot as to the market position in Loudoun County as compared to one year ago, however it's particularly helpful to look back three years, to 2019 (second panel below), to get a more realistic comparison. What we see here is a drastically lower inventory (660 listings -v- 935 in September 2019), and a median price today of $639,995 compared with $495,000 in September 2019.
This lack of inventory in a market where there is a high demand for property is fuelling a continued healthy market, but with rates at around the 7% mark, we are seeing more negotiation, longer time on market and, happily, we are back to a position where buyers are able to properly do their due diligence with home inspections, well and septic inspections and retaining financing and appraisal contingencies.
Latest real estate stats for Loudoun County are in for the second quarter of 2022, and reflect what we have been seeing in our local market, namely a slowdown in sales activity when compared to the frenetic situation a year ago, when buyers struggled to compete and sellers were receiving multiple offers with few or no contingencies.
Make no mistake, these figures do not suggest that we are in a down market, far from it; we are now seeing a more 'normal' situation where buyers are able once again to do their proper due diligence and ensure that they are getting what they're paying for.
In fact, the median selling price is UP by 11% YOY while average days on market are, albeit fractionally, lower YOY.
This week, I took an out of state client to view five properties which I had scheduled to show a week before, and all five were still actively for sale. Great news for buyers who need to plan ahead!
Mortgage rates have been on the rise, but in recent weeks we have seen those not only stabilizing, but falling back slightly. Depending on who you ask, a 30 year fixed rate jumbo loan over $642,200 is in the 5% region however various lenders can offer portfolio loans for less, usually with the borrower paying a point or so. Below that $642,200, rates are hovering around the 6.4% mark.
Click on the image above for the full report, and contact yours truly for more information.
From time to time, a truly iconic property, full of history and aura comes to the market, and our Llangollen estate is a case in point.
Located just outside the quaint village of Upperville, Virginia, Llangollen sits on 1,100 acres of beautiful countryside, in conservation easement, and dates to 1795 when the original patent house was built, in order to abide by the terms of the formal prescription of the lease to the first grantee which required that a dwelling be constructed.
Upperville was the scene of an American Civil War battle which preceded Gettysburg, and the fields surrounding Llangollen saw plenty of action. Locally infamous John Singleton Mosby, romantically referred to as the Gray Ghost, is purported to have spent time at Llangollen, meeting in the downstairs pub seen below.
The thousands of acres on and around Llangollen were originally surveyed by a young man by the name of George Washington, better known forever as the founding father and first President of the United States of America.
Guests at the property during the nineteenth century included the Marquis De Lafayette who made it his base on the east coast during his grand tour of the United States, as well as our third President, and drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, whose Monticello has been studied by the present owners of Llangollen in order to properly decorate this fabulous house.
The Civil War years and the reconstruction period immediately thereafter were not kind to southern estates like Llangollen, which had previously relied on the abhorrent practice of using the enslaved to farm the land and produce its crops. Decades passed before subsequent stewards took ownership, and began its slow rehabilitation. But it was not until 1930, when John Hay 'Jock' Whitney, publisher of the New York Herald Tribune, President of the Museum of Modern Art and, later, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom purchased Llangollen as a wedding present for his fiancée, Elizabeth Altemus and restored and significantly expanded the beautiful property, creating a new southern wing off the manor house, and building the impressive and quite unique horseshoe barn pictured below.
Whitney and his wife divorced after ten years of marriage, during which time they developed a formidable racehorse breeding operation, and introduced polo to the property, a sport which Jock excelled at, and which remains to this day, by way of a world class facility with three polo fields and an arena.
Liz Whitney remained at Llangollen until her death in 1988, marrying several more times and in 1989 the property was acquired by businessman and former Nixon Whitehouse official, Roy L. Ash, who founded Litton Industries and was the 21st Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and his wife Lila. The Ash's took on the huge task of restoring Llangollen to its original glory and extending the house on both ends, creating a modern kitchen off the original patent house to the north and the library/guest room wing to the south.
Llangollen is ready now for its next’s 'custodians', and represents an exciting opportunity to own a rare piece of history and real estate, just an hour from Washington Dulles International Airport, and DC just beyond.
The Dulles Area Association of Realtors® monthly market indicators report for April 2022 is now available, providing both a snapshot and further in depth detail in to our local real estate market.
Active listings are up significantly year over year (YoY) at 370 listings, or 33.6% more YoY, nevertheless new listings are 8% lower than the same time last year. The median list price continues to increase, 16.6% for the year to a new level of $682,496, however the median sold price is now at $720,000 compared to $610,000 in April 2021, based on 27.6% fewer sales YoY.
The latest Home Demand Index for the Washington DC region, researched and prepared by Bright MLS, can also be reviewed here.
This delightful Middleburg estate, about to hit the market, beautifully encapsulates why one would want to live in this idyllic part of the world. Hidden well away from the beaten track, off a traditional gravel road, the house and barn are sited on ten partially wooded acres and totally insulated from the noise of every day life, except for the sounds of wildlife.
The house was designed by well respected architect, William E. Poole and built by a local custom builder in 2000. Finishings are to a very high standard and touches such as an eighteenth and a nineteenth century manel, Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors and 10-foot ceilings on the main level make this a home where memories will be created for a lifetime.
Visit 21014Beaverdam.com to pour over the photo album, interactive floor plans and much more.
Assisting my broker, Janeen Marconi, in creating an alluring video presentation of her latest listing was more than a delight. It allowed me up close insight into a pre-American Civil War property which has undergone a wonderful and sympathetic restoration by its current owner. It really is inspirational.
I'm so pleased to announce the re-listing of our gorgeous 27.61 acre lot on Calumet Lane in Bluemont, co-listed with my broker/owner, Janeen Marconi. Check out the video 👇
Calumet Lane is a private gravel road stretching from historic Snickersville Turnpike to Route 7. There is no homeowners association but there is a road maintenance agreement with each lot owner contributing around $400 a year for snow removal, adding gravel and the like.
Lot 10, as it was platted, has been perced for a 6-bedroom home meaning that a new owner will be able to build a house with as many as 6-bedrooms, the maximum allowable bedroom count for the (to be built) approved septic absorption system. Perced refers to how well the soil percolates waste matter.
Take a look at the photo gallery below, or go to the listing information page for more detail!
Land in Great Falls, Virginia is scarce, making our latest listing on Edmonston Road even more desirable. The 5-acre lot was recently 'perc' approved by Fairfax County for a 6-bedroom home, and is a short walk to the Potomac River - check out the video...
The term 'perc' refers to how well the soil percolates and therefore how well it will absorb waste water from a house in to the septic drain field. The better it percs, the more bedrooms are allowed to be included in a new build - it is assumed that each bedroom will accommodate two people using the waste water system.
It's not always easy to properly show raw land in a video, but we were fortunate timing-wise in that spring greenery was coming in, but not yet fully in leaf. Also, with the Potomac so close by, drone video nicely demonstrates the proximity of the river. And literally down the road, 2.7 miles away, is one of my favorite restaurants, the famed L'Auberge Chez François, the perfect place for haute cuisine anytime!
Take a look at the listing information page and give me a call if it might be of interest. But be quick - properties such as this one, which is priced at $1,800,000, don't last very long.
This wonderful new listing on very quiet Ada Road, is just three and a half miles from Interstate 66 and the town of Marshall, Virginia.
Listed at just $595,000, the all brick ranch rambler was built in 1995, and sits on 5 tranquil acres, with a large fenced backyard and freeform in ground pool.
Incredibly, there are almost 4,000 finished square feet on two levels, with the three bedrooms, including the primary bedroom with attached primary bath, on the main, entry level. The main level also includes the open plan kitchen overlooking the family room, a formal living room and formal dining room and second full bath.
The lower level is truly an entertainer's dream, with its full wet bar and wine room, games area, media area, sitting area, dining area, bonus room, office and laundry room.
Take a look at the listing information page for more detail and the video below!
Belmar farm, Middleburg sale
My listing of the beautiful Belmar Farm on Saint Louis Road, Middleburg just closed, with happy listing clients and delighted new owners.
The home was built by local custom builder, University Group, in 2005 and consists of almost 8,000 finished square feet on three levels. The land upon which the house sits is quite simply spectacular, with incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the 25 acre site.
I must mention the buyers agent with whom I worked on this transaction, Mary Illes, who was absolutely fantastic to work with, and whom I am very grateful for bringing such lovely clients.
Real estate facts and figures
The local, and in fact national real estate market has seen record upward movement in sales prices and volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our market here in Loudoun County and Northern Virginia is no exception as recently released quarter 4 2021 versus the same period in 2020 reveal.
As we have all seen, inflation is at a 40 year high at 7.5% which is expected to decrease later in the year, but it's certainly a concern.
Interest rates are on the rise and indicators are that mortgage rates could be 1% higher than they are today by summer. That's relatively significant but would still be in the 4's, well well below what we were used to not so many years ago.
For the full report, click or press HERE and as always, don't hesitate to give me a call, text or email for more information.
n.b. thanks to the Dulles Area Association of Realtors, of which I am a board member, for these well researched figures
Christmas in Middleburg
The first Saturday in December has marked what has become the famous Christmas in Middleburg event, stymied only last year by the pandemic, but back in full force this year.
To help safeguard against transmission of the latest Omicron variant, the Middleburg Town Council decided to limit paid parking, and therefore visitor numbers, to 1,000 cars in the three main lots, two outside of town and one at the Salamander Resort & Spa.
Incredible weather and a desire to get out into the open air meant that Middleburg enjoyed one of the best ever events, with improved visitor dining options and excellent signage all through town.
From our wonderful elevated Washington Street location, we were able to enjoy both the early morning horse and hounds review followed by the parade just after lunch.
The evening before Christmas in Middleburg witnessed the annual town Christmas tree lighting at the Pink Box visitor center, another much anticipated, although far more local, annual tradition.
September 2021 market indicators
The market is showing signs of returning to something like a more balanced one. While September sales in Loudoun County were down 10.5% YOY, when compared to 2019, it is stronger. What does this all suggest? Perhaps that buyers who were shut out will now return to the market, while sellers will still experience strong returns in short timeframes. Win-win.
Key is still price, condition and location. There’s no getting around that maxim. Yet prices have been moving up continually, and the report demonstrates that, showing overall median prices up almost 10% as compared to September 2020.
Mortgage rates have been inching up, primarily thanks to inflation concerns, but are still at extremely low levels. To paraphrase my friend and loan officer, Tan Tunador with ACM (Atlantic Coast Mortgage), "They [rates] are still near historic lows (remember the 6,7,8 or even over 10% rates?). Once the consumer gets the sub-3% rates our of their minds the low 3s will be the new normal again."
Check out the the full report by clicking/pressing on the image above, and have a great day!
As a Realtor, I experience some profound highs in this, my chosen career, mainly when I witness a client’s joy at closing on a new home or successfully passing one on to its new stewards.
In 2018, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Hannes and Sarah Endhardt in their quest for a vineyard or, if the right existing property could not be found, the ideal parcel of raw land on which to plant a vineyard and build a tasting room.
Following several disappointments, including a going concern vineyard/winery and a parcel of raw land, which was discovered to be unsuitable for the growing of quality grapevines, we located a 46 acre rolling lot, already in conservation easement, on a serene Virginia Byway, Lincoln Road, Purcellville, and went to work on our due diligence, including soil testing to ensure there were no hidden impediments to making great wine.
The real hard work began following closing of the purchase. Hannes and Sarah set about ordering new vines, not a simple matter and one which requires many many months of lead time. Once these arrived, they were meticulously planted while the property was fenced and beautified, with the eventual addition of a meandering gravel drive and adorable rustic modern tasting room, with winery below.
The naming process was easy and Endhardt Vineyards was born. During September 2021, the tasting room opened quietly with Hannes and Sarah working the tasting bar. Without any fanfare or advertising, it quickly filled with passing oenophiles who spotted the Endhardt Vineyards sign off the main road.
Take a look at my Country Zest & Style article here, and pay a visit on any Saturday or Sunday, 12 noon to 5pm.
I'm thrilled to be listing shortly this lovely property on Calumet Lane, in beautiful Bluemont Virginia. With over 16 acres of land, including both woodland and level grassland, and a new 2-stall Amish barn, this property is a nature lovers dream.
The house was modeled on a waterfront design, in which the main rear facing windows capture the splendor of this stunning countryside setting.
Expected date on market is August 10th, with interior photos and full video tour coming between now and then, so stay tuned!!
A day in the life of a Realtor®
The past year has seen an incredible increase in residential property prices, with a corresponding decrease in inventory in our DAAR (Dulles Area Association of Realtors) region. It's becoming more and more of a challenge to secure the purchase of property when representing clients, due to fierce competition and significant waiving of contingencies by other prospective buyers.
When it comes to land sales, however, it's a little bit of a different story. There's nowhere near the instant gratification phenomenon one gets with a raw piece of land, as compared to an existing home. That said, land prices have increased significantly with a corresponding increase in volume, however the level of frenzy is lower which allows more patient buyers, who may be willing to plan for the long-term, to acquire their dream location, and build their dream home.
Below is a quick video I took while showing two land properties in beautiful Northern Virginia this weekend. The clients in question are indeed planning for the longer-term, following a return to the US after a foreign posting. They were able to spend the day walking these delightful parcels, envisioning how the house they want to build could be sited.
One of my more recent marketing taglines for some of these land properties has been "Land - they're not making any more of it!". Moral of the tale is if you don't need to move immediately, and other parameters work for you, consider searching for a lot and enjoying the design and build process. I know someone who can help…
Earth Day may only happen once a year, but the hope is that its impact will last far longer.
Middleburg, home to Hunt Country Sotheby’s International Realty, has its very own Go Green Committee which advises the town council on sustainability matters, and this past weekend not only spearheaded the spring town cleanup, but held its annual dead household battery collection day at the town office.
This program ensures that batteries which would otherwise have been tossed in the trash, ending up in the landfill, are collected and sent away for environmentally friendly recycling.
Go Green joined the town's police department which was holding its annual prescription drug take back day, a national event sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). They collected bags of expired and no longer needed medicines which are immediately sent to a secure incineration facility.
So hang on to old batteries and drop them off at the town office any time, and bring old Rx drugs next time we hold the take back day.
Middleburgers clean up their town
Middleburg, Virginia is a wonderful town, for many reasons. It is historic, often described as quaint, walkable and full of interesting, eclectic shops and great restaurants.
It is also a town which is called home to residents and businesses who care about the town enough to venture out a couple of times a year to help spruce up Middleburg. This spring, clean up day was also an opportunity for folks to get out after a year and more of COVID, safely walking the streets with orange buckets and trash bags, picking up discarded trash items and recyclables.
Yours truly was the weed killer guy, dressed like one of the ghostbusters with backpack sprayer filled to the brim with a white vinegar based organic weed killer.
Notably, the streets were in fact not particularly bad, garbage-wise, partly because people have not been out and about as much as usual but also because there are members of the public who do this themselves every now and then, not for payment, not for any kind of recognition, but because they love their town.
Despite the fact that the town adopted a cigarette butt recycling campaign a couple of years ago, including special butt receptacles attached to all town trash cans, the cleanup volunteers did fill a small bag with butts which will be sent to Terracycle for complete safe recycling.
The town's Salamander Resort & Spa contributed not only with several members of staff who kindly pitched in to help, but supplied a delicious breakfast of coffees and pastries. Other businesses like Northwest Federal Credit Union were well represented with wonderful staff members who pitch in every cleanup day.
The next cleanup is tentatively scheduled for early fall, and there are many regulars ready to step up again - thank you!
Peter writes for his local magazine, Country Zest & Style, as its Wine Editor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!