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! ⬇️
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
State of the market
The past year has seen so much upheaval globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An unexpected effect of this in the local countryside real estate market has been a significant uptick in sales, and corresponding reduction in available inventory. The net result has been property value increases and bidding wars being the norm, rather than the exception.
Recently, the respected Loudoun County, Virginia magazine, Leesburg Lifestyle magazine arranged an interview at the Hunt Country Sotheby’s International Realty Leesburg main office with my industry friend and colleague, Debbie Meighan of Washington Fine Properties and myself.
The historic Abraham Beydler House
Just 90 minutes drive west of the nation’s capital, within the shadow of Massanutten Mountain in the George Washington National Forest sits the historic Abraham Beydler House [pron bye-dler], built circa 1790, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The original manor house is of the Federal architectural style, constructed of stone and brick made on the property, incorporating foundations built from stacked fieldstones of limestone and slate.
The manor house, and related structures, have become known as Valhalla Farm, consisting of the original house plus ‘ell’addition dating to the mid 1800’s, a smokehouse and artists studio . The interior of the main house retains original horsehair plaster walls, while the floors are heart-of-pine planks with sawdust caulking between the planks. All of the doors are of six-panel design, consisting of two-inch thick planks, with many of the doors still with their original hardware. A boxed staircase connects the first-floor dining room with the upstairs.
The parlor includes a number of important ornamental features including cupboards with carvings reputedly crafted by Hessian soldiers who had remained in Virginia following the Revolutionary War.
Further rooms include four bedrooms; a formal dining room; an entry hall/library; an additional summer kitchen in the smokehouse; an enclosed porch; a sleeping porch; three basement rooms including an original egg room which retains wall markings depicting egg count.
The property lies on 9.3 acres with open fields stretching south from the house to the banks of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. There is an in-ground pool with fencing.
Valhalla Farm represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an historic manor house, with copious fascinating features in an area of great beauty and tranquility - a tranquil yet easy to reach getaway from city life.
No reserve, online auction starts today - 40310 Hurley Lane, Paeonian Springs, VA 20129
Starting today, Wednesday August 19th and culminating on Friday August 21st, our listing of Villa Serenity is open for bidding in a no reserve, online, highest bidder wins auction by Concierge Auctions.
The winning bidder pays a 12% buyer’s premium to Concierge Auctions, and the broker who brings and registers the winning bidder receives its co-broker commission from the seller, in the same way as a conventionally listed property sale.
The on site Project Sales Manager, Ivana Stevanovic, can be contacted at
We are delighted to bring Monte Subasio to the luxury real estate market, a sophisticated estate on 23 lush acres in beautiful Bluemont, Virginia. This quite exceptional property was built to exacting standards in 2008, for an owner with an extreme eye for detail and engineering excellence.
Designed in the Georgian Revival architectural style, and built using steel I-beams and support trusses throughout, the 11,700 finished square feet main house features five bedrooms, including an expansive master bedroom wing on the main level; five full bathrooms and four half bathrooms; a formal dining room and living room; a family room and an adjoining library, each overlooking the back garden and pond; a large chefs entertaining kitchen with professional grade appliances and breakfast area; a large laundry room; a fully finished lower level with a stone surround fireplace, bar, wine cellar, custom ice cream parlor and meditation room; a 14’ x 40’ indoor salt water lap pool with French doors overlooking the back garden...continued below
A four-car attached garage with 9’ wide doors and a full length unfinished second floor is accessed via a short covered breezeway, while a second, three-car detached garage with finished second level is a short walk away. The three-stall barn with heated tack room is finished to the same high standards of quality as are seen in the main house, and includes a finished second level. The grounds feature a ‘secret garden’ as well as manicured topiaries and hedges, all culminating with views of a serene pond - $2,995,000
Peter has written for his local magazines, Country Zest & Style and Middleburg Life as their Wine contributor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!