LEXpert’s top picks for around $350k

At the bottom of the market just a few years ago, it seemed like $350k was a HUGE budget.  It still gets you a very nice house, but most of the popular choices like Firebrook, Palomar, Hartland, Andover Forest and Chevy Chase are now well over $400k for a fairly updated home.

Here are a few neighborhoods that I always like to make sure my $350k buyers are aware of:

Dogwood Hills-This is an 80’s neighborhood with large traditional houses located out Harrodsburg Road across from Firebrook.  I’ve always described Dogwood Hills as upscale but not pretentious.  It just has a comfortable, cozy vibe to it that I have always found appealing.   You’ve got a great southwest Lexington location, there is a shopping center with a Kroger right next door, and you have a great city park in the back of the neighborhood.

Rabbit Run-This is a late 80s/early 90s neighborhood.  I am taking about Wellington Lane, part of Wellington Way, Meadowbrook Drive, Meadowbrook Court, Comanche Trail, Comanche Court, Blenheim Way and Blenheim Court.  Rabbit Run does have a section of medium sized houses on small lots.  There is also an adjoining neighborhood whose real name is Saint Stephen’s Green at Rabbit Run….but most people call it all Rabbit Run these days.  Now that I have cleared up all that, what do I like about it?  Like Dogwood Hills, it does have that cozy, comfortable upscale vibe to it.  I think it’s best feature is the location.  It is right in the middle of everything you want on the southwest end of Lexington.  Both Man O War and New Circle Road are minutes away.  You can sneak in the back way to get to Fayette Mall without ever being on Nicholasville Road.  You have all the great things that Harrodsburg Road offers very close, such as the YMCA, library, restaurants, gym, grocery stores…even a hardware store.

Lansdowne-This neighborhood has become very trendy.  $350k doesn’t go as far as it use to here.  What makes it special is that you get a mid-century neighborhood with large lots inside New Circle Road and close to UK, downtown and Chevy Chase.  You can also get to about anything on Nicholasville Road by taking one of the side streets like Zandale, Malabu or Reynolds Road.  A popular spot for many residents is the Signature Club.  It has a great swimming pool.  You can enjoy the club even if you are not a member and dine in “The Cellar.”  As if this location was not ideal enough, you are very close to The Lansdowne Shoppes which has several amazing businesses such as The Fresh Market (One of my favorite grocery stores-great sushi!)

Stonewall-This is my default suggestion when people tell me they want a safe neighborhood with good performing schools and they want a huge yard in south Lexington.  I guess it is my default because it is about the only neighborhood that meets all that criteria.  Stonewall is a 1960s neighborhood that use to be just outside of Lexington.  Just beyond Stonewall is a 70s neighborhood called Grasmere.  Some people think Grasmere is part of Stonewall, but it isn’t.  Grasmere has a similar feel to it, although the lots are a little smaller and the houses are about 10 years newer.  It is a little cheaper too.  When Stonewall won’t fit in your budget, look in Grasmere.  Stonewall is right off Clays Mill Road just outside of New Circle.  It is just a few minutes away from Rabbit Run, so you get all the same location perks.

LEXpert’s top picks for around $250k

Okay.  You want a 4 bedroom house in Lexington.  Nothing too old.  Maybe you have kids.  Maybe you don’t.  Either way you realize a house in this price range and size should be in a good performing school district to keep the resale potential up.

Here are a few neighborhoods I always suggest and why:

Andover Hills-I know, I know.  I am always talking about Andover Hills.  I lived there for several years and it has been my absolute favorite place I’ve ever lived.  You are close to Hamburg, but since you are on the southeast side of it, you do not have to pass through Hamburg EVERY time you go any place else in town.  Since I now live on the northeast side of Hamburg and must get past Hamburg to get anywhere, I am always aware of this.  Andover Hills has a nice vibe.  Upscale without being pretentious.  $250k is the low end for this neighborhood.  An added plus is having Andover Golf and Country Club so close for golfing and the pool if you wanted to join.  There are a lot of businesses that you use regularly that are very close too.

Chilesburg-This neighborhood would not have been on my list many years ago.  It has always been nice, but the school district change finally put all of Chilesburg in the elementary school that sits in the middle of it.  It is just a few minutes past Andover Hills, so it shares many of the same perks.  One cool thing Chilesburg has is a bunch of walking trails through the neighborhood.

Willow Oak-This is one neighborhood few people know exists.  It is tucked away behind Millpond Shopping Center on Boston Road.  If you’ve been out there and seen a park with a pool and a big pond, that belongs to this neighborhood.  There is only one way in and out, and it is across a picturesque bridge.  Anything you want in South Lexington is close, and you could walk to Starbucks.  The streets are lined with huge pin oaks.  This neighborhood has one of my highest “Good vibes per dollar” ratings ever.  You could spend twice as much elsewhere and not get as much neighborhood character.

Copperfield-This is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in this price range.  It is upscale in a classic sense like Andover Hills and has all the character that you find in Willow Oak.  It is also on the edge of the Dunbar High School district, which is one reason it is so popular.  The neighborhood has it’s own pool and clubhouse too.




Best Performing LEXington Schools & Their Neighborhoods: Rosa Parks Elementary

Rosa Parks.  The #2 top performing elementary according to Fayette County Public schools website.  Right behind Veteran’s Park Elementary in test scores.  Wonder why Rosa Parks is considered the MOST desirable elementary school then?  It’s because you get that rare combination of getting ALL good performing schools in this part of town…..which is southwest Lexington.

Here are the neighborhoods that have Rosa Parks Elementary as their district:

  • Beaumont-There are lots of suffixes for the whole Beaumont area…..Beaumont Reserve, Beaumont Enclave, Beaumont Crossing, etc.  The whole Beaumont area is generally a mix of large homes from brand new up to about 15 years old.  Most have basements and most are in the $400-600k range.  Some are well over that, with the new UK football coach dropping $1.45 million for his new digs in the Reserve section.  The cheapest you can get into this area is to either rent an apartment at Beaumont Farms or a little section called Beaumont Enclave.  Expect to pay in the low $200’s for an 1800-2500 square foot house in this part of the neighborhood.  Beaumont is loved for its convenient location, extensive walking trail, and having things like restaurants, banks, offices and the YMCA inside it’s parameters.
  • Palomar-One of my favorite neighborhoods in LEXington.  The houses are between about 15-25 years old.  Values range from the low $200’s up to $500k.   There are 3 streets with sub $200k houses on Valencia, Maura and Glade.  Palomar has a really nice clubhouse with a park and pool.  Lots of mature trees give it that classic vibe.  It is right across Man O War from many useful business at Palomar Centre.  A gym, Panera Bread, Malone’s, Orange Leaf, other restaurants, banks, a gas station mean you seldom have to go far for anything.
  • Harrod Hills-The first neighborhood out Harrodsburg Road.  It was the Beaumont/Palomar of the 70’s and early 80’s.  Nice houses on big lots.  A few houses of interesting design.  Not too many are that updated, but that has not slowed the sales or effected the values.  The location is great since it is between Palomar and Beaumont, so it offers the same conveniences.  Values are all over the place depending on condition/updating.  Wide range of sizes too.  I usually see $175k as being the looooooower end and close to $400k at the top.  There really is no other neighborhood like it in SW LEXington.  Maybe it is just me, but it still feels a little bit like the neighborhood out in the country that it was until the late 1980’s.
  • Harrods View-Think Palomar era houses, but on a narrow strip of land between Harrod Hills and Palomar Centre.  There are only a handful of streets that make this neighborhood.  One way in and one way out make it one of the best kept secrets in town.  It kind of has a feel that is a mix of Harrod Hills and Palomar.  I have been in many in this neighborhood.  Like most 15-20 year old areas, not many are really updated, but that has not reduced demand.  Many have basements.  On the low end, expect to pay $275k.  About $350k is the most I have seen any sell for recently.
  • Wellesley Heights-Right off of Versailles Road.  One of those neighborhoods that was developed to be in the country with all acre plus lots.  Most are 30-40 years old now.  These were true executive homes when new. I have only been in a few out here since there aren’t many and they don’t come on the market often.  Just looking back at sales over the years, $300-400k seems to be a good number to give you.  There have only been like 2 sales in the past year or so!  If you want an older, large house on a HUGE lot with a horse farmish feel, look no further.
  • Cave Hill-This is the cheapest way to get into this expensive part of town and school district.  You’ve got all the same location features that Palomar and Harrods View have since it is kind of between both those neighborhoods.  These are mostly 10-15 year old smaller homes that run between $145k and $170k usually.  These are the same houses that sell for $130-150k in inferior locations, so the calling card here is location, location, location.
  • Pine Needles-I am mainly including this just so nobody can say I missed one.  Pine Needles is an upscale neighborhood of clustered/attached homes with first floor master bedrooms, so I don’t think having an awesome school district is that big of a bonus to Pine Needles.
  • The Rural SW part of Fayette County-all the property out in the country go to Rosa Parks.  No real neighborhoods out that way, but wanted to cover the whole district.

That wraps up Rosa Parks district.  We’ll hit Picadome next time since it is the 3rd highest ranking elementary school.  There are a ton of neighborhoods for that district!!

Best performing LEXington schools & their Neighborhoods Part 1: Veteran’s Park Elementary

One of the things I get asked the most when working with a client is “What school district is that in?”  Thought it was about time to list the highest performing schools and talk a bit about the neighborhoods that feed into them.   I got my list of top schools straight from Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) themself…..here is the link http://www.fcps.net/scores.

THE top performing elementary school for 2011-2012, which is the most current test scores out there since the 2012-2013 school year isn’t over, is Veteran’s Park Elementary.

The neighborhoods that feed into Veteran’s Park Elementary are:  Fairhaven, Cumberland Hills, Woodfield, Ashmoor, and PARTS of Pinnacle and PARTS of Waterford.  I always caution people to go to the site  I’ll post in a sentence or two to confirm the school district for any street in LEXington.  Realtors have been known to intentionally/unintentionally put the wrong school on the MLS.  I have seen where agents have listed Maxwell Elementary as the school for their listing.  BTW, Maxwell is a Spanish Immersion School that you can only get into by lottery-it HAS no school district.  http://webapps.fcps.net/framedapps/streetdirectory/2.4/

All the neighborhoods in this area are close to Veteran’s Park (Yeah, the park and the school share a name.)  The park has 235 acres and is really cool.  You should check it out.  One thing most of my clients like about this area is that you aren’t too far away from anything.  Hamburg, Fayette Mall and UK are fairly close, even though there may be a lot of traffic.

So, here are the neighborhoods:

1.  Fairhaven-This is about as cheap as you can get into this school district.  Most of these houses were build in the mid to late 1980’s.  They tend to be moderate in size, like 1200-2000 sq feet and run from $125-175k.  You can walk to the school from this neighborhood.  The streets between Saron and the park are the best in my opinion just since it is nice to be closer to a park than it is to hearing Tates Creek Road.

2. Cumberland-This was one of the prime spots to be in during the late 1980’s.  A good mix of traditional and a few wild contemporaries on large lots give this neighborhood a peaceful, relaxed vibe.  Cumberland has it’s own pool and clubhouse.  It also has it’s own entrance to Veteran’s Park (The Park-not school) at the end of Rockbridge.  Some old school LEXingtonians still refer to that section as Ribbon Park.  It is one of my favorite parks in town!  Houses are mostly 2000-2500 sq ft.  Some have basements.  Prices are in the $200’s.  I occasionally see a rough one sell for less, and the best ones may be something like $275k.

3.  Ashmoor-I call this neighborhood Cumberland Lite.  It has much of the same charm and character, but the houses are and lots are smaller.  Plenty of ranches too.  Most of the streets are lined with huge pin oaks.  Sizes are mainly 1400-2000 and prices are usually in the $150-200k range.

4.  Woodfield-Early 1990’s to 2000’s homes.  Kind of like Cumberland, but with a bit more flair and modern features like vaulted ceilings and open floor plans.  Most houses are in that same 2000-2500 sq ft range and I have only seen one house go for over $300k out there.

5.  Pinacle-this neighborhood is mostly a mid to late 1990’s area.  It kind of filled in the space between Cumberland, Waterford and Southpoint if you look on a map.  Lots of rolling hills out here.  You can get some big lots in this neighborhood, but like Waterford, odds are you won’t get a flat one.  Houses are 2200-2500 sq ft.  Many have basements.  Prices are mostly in the $220-320k range.  You get a big updated house with a finished basement for the higher end of the range.  Has it’s own pool too and easy access to a mini-Hamburg like shopping area called Brannon Crossing.

6.  Waterford-poor Waterford.  The past several years have been cruel to you 😦  First, half of you gets redistricted out of Veteran’s Park, then the housing crisis….and all at a time when most of your houses were hitting that first cycle of decline.  If I were to give an award for taking it on the chin and perseverance, you would get it.  Wow….that was weird, I’ve never spoken directly to a neighborhood before, but that gives you the background.  Waterford is a very nice area.  It has a nice pool and clubhouse.  It has matured well since the early 1990’s when it was a wooded area on the edge of town.  The pair of ponds at the entrance are a good spot to feed the ducks.  Many lots are big, but can be hilly.  Most of the houses are 2200-2500 sq ft.  Many have basements, which can add to those numbers.  Prices are in the lower $200’s up to about $300k.  I think Waterford is going to be a future classic, so I look for values to increase….especially the houses on the streets that go to Veteran’s Park Elementary!



LEXpert Neighborhood Tour: Gleneagles

I did a review of this neighborhood several years ago when I first started blogging.  I wasn’t as high on it as I am now.  Reason was that prices were falling faster than other neighborhoods and I thought there were better choices for the buyers back then.  Things have stabilized and now I give the neighborhood a thumb’s up.  See, back then, prices for Gleneagles were about the same as Andover Hills.  Andover Hills has a better performing school district and golf course running though it to help keep values up.  Back then my logic was why pay the same when you can get more?  Now that there is enough of a price difference, I think this area is a bargain.  In all reality, the two areas are so similar that I bet you couldn’t tell the difference between being on Huntersgreen in Andover and Caversham Park in Gleneagles.

Before you check out the video, let me clarify that I am mainly talking about the nicest part of Gleneagles in this video, which is between Barrington, Sunningdale and Polo Club.  This area has some nice houses and many of the lots back to greenspace…..some of the best greenspace in town in my opinion.

Schools are Yates, Crawford and Bryan Station.  All are far from the top scoring schools in town.  Fayette County Public Schools has bought land close by on Deer Haven and saaaaaaays they will be building a new elementary school……which should give this area a big boost if it lands in the new district.