Many of you may remember my post from a little over a year ago in which I introduced you to Birchwood at Brambleton, an “active adult” community for the 55+ set, nestled into the southeast corner of the award-winning master planned community of Brambleton in Loudoun County.

I’ve been a big fan of this neighborhood, in addition to the range of home styles, ever since I’ve visited. While there were initially three builders offering different home styles and floor plans, one (Miller and Smith) quickly sold out of their small number of lots. Both Van Metre and Winchester continue to build, but lots for new homes have been selling faster than anticipated throughout the pandemic. And prices continue to go up, so if you’re interested in this community, you really owe it to yourself to take a look. (Give us a call, and we will set up an appointment and confirm current incentives.)

Van-Metre-home-Birchwood-at-Brambleton

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Birchwood at Brambleton Offers a Community Feel with Plenty to Do

I started working with a client right at the beginning of the pandemic last March, and after one weekend of looking at homes, she was sold on Birchwood, with all its amenities, great location, and close-knit community feel. It’s easy to meet people here, as everyone I’ve met is very friendly and looking to interact with neighbors (although, like other places, that’s limited now during the pandemic!). When things are able to get back to a more “normal” routine, you can expect to find things like cooking demos, wine tastings, live music, and other events available to residents each week. Plus, the gorgeous multi-level Clubhouse (shown at the top of this post) with soaring ceilings and walls of windows offers plenty of lounging space, work space, billiards, an indoor pool, workout rooms, a theater area for movies, an art studio, and a golf simulation area. Outside you’ll find pickle ball courts, an outdoor pool, fire pits, and decking overlooking the lake. There are plenty of walking trails, too.

Plans for Future Development of this Popular Community

Birchwood at Brambleton has plans to continue development on the eastern side of Loudoun County Parkway as well (right now there are just apartments). However, the developer has not yet released the lots to specific builders, and Van Metre was unsure of the exact timetable for that. There will be another Clubhouse on this easter side (albeit smaller).

Single-family-interior-Van-Metre-Views

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Current Inventory of Lots is Going Fast

Let me give you an update on what is still available in the way of new construction on the western side. (Of course, I can also help you with resales, although those are pretty limited in this new community at this time.) As I said, property values here continue to appreciate. For example, the base price of the 2-level Van Metre Towne home my client put a contract on back in late March of 2020 has already gone up $40,000. With limited supply of new construction in active adult communities, the demand for homes in Birchwood will continue to outpace supply, making it a good long-term investment.

Two Builders Give You a Huge Range of Home Styles and Floor Plans

Van Metre offers the widest range of home styles, from one-level condos to various 2- and 4-story townhomes (some with elevators) to 3-level single family homes. A new series of condos, called “The Rise,” with parking spaces more accessible to owners’ individual units, will be released for sale soon. Winchester Homes offers two styles of attached homes, the Bungalows with three levels of living and the Carriages with two levels (no basement). As you would expect in a 55+ community, there are floor plans from each builder offering main level Primary Bedrooms and Baths, and there are multiple options for customization for each style of home. Both of these builders very much let you make your home your own, based on how you live. There are some really cool outdoor living features offered as well, including covered decks, 3-season rooms, and rooftop terraces like the one below.

Rooftop-terrace-Van-Metre-Birchwood-at-Brambleton

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

Options Fit a Range of Size Preferences and Budgets

Square footage can range all the way up to about 4,000 square feet of living space in the single family Van Metre homes, and base prices run the gamut as well, depending on the style of home (condos start in the mid-$300s). Currently, the model home of the gorgeous Van Metre Towne “Bernstein” floor plan (the same floor plan my client purchased) with a Primary Bedroom on the Main Level, is for sale at $839,990 (Great Room shown below). Obviously, being the model, it has a ton of structural and design upgrades including an interior brick wall, a gourmet kitchen, and an expanded floor plan offering 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths.

Bernstein-model-Van-Metre

Photo courtesy of Van Metre

While I’m not at all surprised about the success of this neighborhood, there’s a new sense of urgency if you’re interested. Give Karen (703-585-3386) or Maggie (703-531-7363) a call if you’d like to preview the various home styles. Everything is by appointment only right now, and we can help you negotiate the best incentives from structural or design upgrades to closing costs.

Life in Willowsford may be quieter than usual right now, but you can certainly enjoy the beauty of spring in this neighborhood. Consisting of four separate “villages,” Willowsford was designed to preserve ample open space, trees, and also incorporates a working farm for residents. Ponds, boathouses, trails, community gardens, and dog parks dot the landscape.  Half of Willowsford’s 4,000 total acres, including the farm, is a conservancy.

Willowsford-pond

Courtesy of Willowsford

Limited New Home Sites From a Few Builders Remain

Numerous residential builders have been a part of the development of Willowsford, which began in 2011. At this point, due to its popularity, only about 200 of the 2,300 total home sites remain available, and the neighborhood is expected to be sold out by the end of this year.  NV Homes still offers many models to choose from, and Beazer Homes and Drees Homes have limited availability. These homes can be found in The Greens and The Grove sections of Willowsford, which straddle each side of Braddock Road west of Northstar Boulevard in Aldie (zip code 20105). The northern two sections of Willowsford, which are in Ashburn (zip code 20148), are The Grange and The Grant. They officially sold out as of about a month ago.

NV Home Willowsford

Whether you have your heart set on new construction or want to keep an eye out for resales in Willowsford, there are numerous styles of homes to choose from. One line of homes called Line K from K Hovnanian offers a contemporary look, soaring ceilings, and a European influence. They sold quickly, due to their unique styling. Other builders have sold out as well. But if you let us know your preferences for size, style, location, lot size, and square footage, we would be happy to keep an eye out for any “Coming Soon” resale listings. We can work with you on new construction, too, being your advocate through the selection, building, and settlement process. There are sometimes even quick-delivery homes available. As with most new construction in northern Virginia, floor plans offer customization with different layout choices, including beautiful outdoor spaces. New homes remaining range in price from $775,000-1,150,000 base price.

outdoor-living-home-in-Willowsford

Willowsford Is Unique Among Loudoun County Planned Communities

Willowsford will appeal to anyone who likes the idea of suburban neighborhoods and meeting one’s neighbors…but with less congestion of homes and more open space. Nature lovers will enjoy the 40 miles of the trail system for biking, walking, or running through the woods, as well as the camping area in The Greens. And, of course, there’s Willowsford Farm, with areas in The Grant, The Grange, and The Greens where produce is grown for the community. In fact, Willowsford Farm just received their organic certification last year. Residents can choose to buy customized shares in the farm or visit the seasonal farm stand for fresh produce and other things like bread. Home delivery is even available!

Willowsford-farmstand

Courtesy of Willowsford

Outdoor Activities and Year-Round Events for All Ages

Other unique and popular features of this sprawling community include tree houses, a community garden in which residents can pay for a plot of land to farm on their own, a kids bike track, a zip line, and an archery range. Of course, you’ll find numerous ponds stocked for fishing, pools, parks, dog parks, and recreation areas throughout. There’s a Community Center that includes a nice gym in both The Grange and The Greens. Adding to the sense of community are year-round events like cooking classes and chef dinners in the large demo kitchens, Autumn Fest, Santa Visits, a Valentine’s Dinner, and even “Superfood Bootcamp” in January!

Log-cabin-treehouse-Willowsford

Courtesy of Willowsford

Thirteen resident-run community clubs make it easy to meet other residents with similar hobbies. There’s the wine club, brew club, garden club, mountain bike club, and archery club, to name a few.

Residents of Willowsford can also host parties at either the elegant Sycamore House in The Grange or the more rustic and cozy Lodge in The Greens. These clubhouses, exclusively available to residents, are perfect for weddings, birthday celebrations, graduation parties, and other celebrations with their versatile indoor and outdoor spaces. There’s even a large kitchen, shown below, for parties and demonstrations inside Sycamore House.

demo-kitchen-Willowsford

Schools and Shopping for Willowsford Residents

Schools for The Grange and The Grant include Madison’s Trust Elementary, Brambleton Middle School, and Independence High School. Kids from The Grove go to Goshen Post Elementary, while Buffalo Trail Elementary serves The Greens. Both these sections feed into Willard Middle School and John Champe High School (but then moving to the brand new Lightridge High School, due to open in the Fall of 2020 right along Braddock Road).

The Boat House Willowsford

Willowsford Boat House

Unlike some other neighborhoods in the southern part of Loudoun County, the areas of Willowsford do not have their own shopping centers. The northern section of Willowsford off Evergreen Mill is in relatively close proximity to Brambleton Town Center, with a movie theater, large gym, doctor’s offices, a new library, Harris Teeter, and various shops and restaurants. The southern section of Willowsford on either side of Braddock gravitates toward Stone Ridge for basic shopping needs like Harris Teeter, along with a handful of restaurants and stores. Another beautiful two-story library is right across the street. Dulles Landing shopping center just north of Route 50 offers a Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, Michael’s, DSW, and more. There are plans for even more commercial development in this area of southern Loudoun County in the years to come.

pool-Willowsford

Courtesy of Willowsford

Contact Karen at [email protected] if you’d like to learn more about the homes available in Willowsford — both new construction and resale. For links to other neighborhood profiles in Loudoun County, see previous posts on our Get to NoVa Blog.

With resale inventory continuing to be historically low, it’s a great time to consider new construction. Fortunately, there are still some builders in Loudoun County with large build-outs of planned communities in progress. This is significant, because there is currently only land for 2,200 single family new builds east of Route 15 in Loudoun County with the current zoning limits.

One veteran area builder of planned communities is Toll Brothers, and they are seven years into developing the beautiful Lenah Mill community of single family homes. Located right off Route 50, west of the Stone Ridge community, you’ll find four different collections of homes. They range from the Parker Collection starting in the mid-$600s with about 2,500 square feet of living space to the Estates starting at $900,000 and delivering up to 8,000 square feet of living space and up to 4 garage spaces. Construction is expected for at least another two years.

Lenah Mill home Loudoun County

Lenah Mill offers floor plans for today’s lifestyles.

Toll Brothers has done a fantastic job of preserving what has made them “America’s Luxury Home Builder,” while offering updated floor plans and finishes for today’s lifestyles. Each Collection consists of four floor plans, also with a choice of 4 different exteriors like Farmhouse, Traditional, or Craftsman, to name a few. With options to further tailor each floor plan for your lifestyle, you can really make these homes your own, complete with luxury finishes that are often included in the base price. You should see some of the luxurious master bath suites with double showers and soaking tubs! Toll Brothers has many buyers re-locating from other Toll Brothers communities in Northern Virginia, in order to enjoy these fresh new floor plans in such a beautiful pastoral setting. (And, in fact, they offer a financial incentive for buyers moving from other Toll Brothers communities. Contact us for more information on that.)

master bathroom Toll Brothers Lenah Mill

The three largest collections have 10′ ceilings on the main floor and 9′ upstairs. This makes such a difference visually and contributes to a feeling of openness and space. Some interesting things Toll Brothers has done with these floor plans is to get rid of centrally located staircases, moving them to the side for a more open floor plan. In addition, they’ve steered away from two-story family rooms to reduce noise and echoing upstairs. This also allows for a major increase in square footage upstairs so that family room “lofts” are now the focal point of the upstairs, with the bedrooms fanning out from that central space (see the cozy spot below). Another increasingly popular feature — a main level Master Bedroom Suite — is available in each collection. This is perfect for all sorts of scenarios, including multi-generational living.

Lenah Mill upstairs loft

Other unique features that today’s sophisticated buyers request…

Some floor plans even offer two kitchens…the main open kitchen as well as a smaller kitchen behind closed doors (sometimes known as a “spice kitchen”) for prepping. Toll Brothers has taken feedback from their buyers seriously. Nice touches including large windows with fewer panes and extra recessed lighting as standard make you feel like you’re getting a high quality home without being nickled and dimed.

Lenah Mill Toll Brothers kitchen

Choices in the Design Center for flooring, cabinetry, and lighting are constantly changing to reflect current tastes. Areas off the garage on the main level can be tailored for a “drop zone” with simple cabinetry or even built out into a full “mud room.” There’s also an option to add a doggie shower to this space, as shown below! Laundry facilities are located upstairs.

Dog shower in Lenah Mill home Aldie, VA

I was floored by the gorgeous outdoor living spaces that are options on these homes. Spaces that transition from indoors to the outdoors include rooms with fireplaces, pocket doors that disappear, outdoor drywall, and integrated space heaters in the ceiling…making these spaces usable on all but the coldest days of the year (see below). Because Toll Brothers owns a landscaping company, landscaping packages can be built into the mortgage, cutting down on big financial outlays once you move in.

indoor outdoor living space Lenah Mill

Something I love that I haven’t seen from other builders is how Toll Brothers’ uses low-VOC paints, woodwork, and carpet in their homes at Lenah Mill. That’s important to me, as it reduces the “outgassing” of chemicals that you often have in new homes. There are a lot of useful high-tech features as well, including keyless Baldwin door locks, and Wi-Fi controls for the thermostat and garage door.

The community of Lenah Mill is as spectacular as its homes.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what really makes this community spectacular, and that’s the open spaces and smart planning that Toll incorporated into this large Loudoun County parcel. You’ll find a clubhouse that’s already being renovated to reflect a light, updated color palette; an outdoor amphitheater; a dog park; multiple sports fields and courts; a health and fitness studio;  a competition pool and family pool; playgrounds; a lake and boathouse; fishing ponds; a community garden; and miles of scenic trails for walking, running, and biking.  Events for both families and adults fill the annual calendar, giving you plenty to do right in your community. And you get all this for HOA fees of only $141/month.

Lenah Mill master planned community Aldie, VA

Beyond the community, you have vineyards, shopping, historic sites, and vibrant towns like Leesburg, Middleburg, Reston, Tysons, and Washington DC all nearby.

Lenah Mill has a total of 886 homesites, with about three-quarters already sold. If you’re in a hurry for a home, you’ll be thrilled to know there are always quick delivery homes available — giving you the convenient timeline of a resale but the luxury of having everything new!

Please contact us at 15 West for a tour of the models and so we can help walk you through the options. Right now, there are buyer incentives up to $45,000 available, depending on the floor plan you’re interested in. In some cases, that’s like getting one of their spectacular “outdoor living” areas for free.

We all know inventory of existing homes is historically low in the northern Virginia area — and in many parts of the country — right now. If you’re getting frustrated submitting offers on homes — only to find you’ve been outbid or someone else’s contract was accepted over yours for other reasons — you may want to consider new home construction.

While you may pay a slight premium over the price of resale homes, everything is, of course, brand new — without the wear and tear you can expect from homes that are even a few years old. Plus, you get to pick and choose the options, so your home is exactly that — yours. You select the site, the floor plan, the exterior, the flooring and carpet, the countertops, the cupboards, the bathroom fixtures, and more. Everything is based on your taste.

When you sit back and think about it, isn’t that what we’d all like?

I wish we’d used a Realtor buying our own new home years ago…

Some buyers mistakenly opt to work without an agent, thinking there’s no need to have representation when buying new construction. But that can be short-sighted. There are, in fact, numerous reasons to use a Realtor. I wish my husband and I had thought of this 17 years ago when we purchased our own home. It was a bit overwhelming, not having ever built before, and we could have really benefitted from the expert advice of a Realtor working on our behalf. Plus, an agent would have saved us dozens of hours of our own time looking over lists of upgrade options, making calls back and forth to the builder, and visiting the home site periodically to ensure things were correct and on track.

And, to clarify, you’re not saving money by choosing to work on your own, as buyers agents are typically paid by sellers or builders, not buyers. As it turns out, one local builder recently told our real estate team that 90% of their new home buyers work with Realtors. 

new-home-construction

Here are the Top 10 reasons to consider using a Realtor when buying new home construction from a builder. 

  • You’ll have an advocate representing your interests.
  • You’ll find out about things the builder may not be obligated to volunteer (news of a new highway being put in close to your home site, changing school zones, the fact that you can hire a home inspector to inspect your home before settlment, or noisy construction nearby that will continue for years).
  • You’ll have someone to help you compare and negotiate incentives offered by builders at various communities.
  • You’ll have an objective party to advise you on whether certain incentives are worth it (i.e. money toward closing costs is nice, but the requirement to use the builder’s preferred lender to get that incentive may not be worth it when you compare rates and costs among other lenders).
  • You’ll have someone who knows the right questions to ask, regarding new home construction (i.e. Is the deposit held in escrow, protecting you in case of bankruptcy by the builder, and how much time is allowed for the builder to complete the construction of the home?)
  • You’ll have help choosing a LOT based on things you might not think of (anticipated traffic patterns, wetlands, ingress/egress, property grading (walk up vs. walk out basement), privacy, and view. Your Realtor can help you keep on top of when new lots are being released, if you have your eye on a particular lot.

choosing-home-lot

  • You’ll benefit from an agent’s experience knowing which options have the best long-term ROI (return on your investment). For example, should you put your money towards adding another bathroom, adding a bump-out to increase square footage, or finishing your basement?
  • You’ll have an unbiased “second opinion” (if you want it!) when choosing design elements and upgrades (i.e. a real estate agent knows what choices are popular and will likely appeal to a future buyer of your home).
  • You’ll have a resource who can put you in touch with multiple competitive lenders to get a mortgage with the best terms.
  • You’ll get recommendations for good inspectors for the pre-drywall and final walk-throughs — and have your agent along at this critical meetings.

Would you like us to scour new properties for you, based on your location, size, and style preferences? Feel free to email us at [email protected]!