Neighborhoods that benefited the most from school district changes

I get a lot of questions about school districts and property values.  Most of the time there is nothing to worry about unless your neighborhood goes from having average/above average schools to getting ones that are worse.    A lateral move doesn’t really matter.  The best situation is when you have poorer performing schools and get better ones….which is the topic of today’s blog post.

Here are the top 3 winners in my opinion.  The biggest changes in the district boundaries were in the Hamburg/40509 area, so these are all out that way:

3.  The Home Place/Gleneagles.  The cat got out of the bag early on this one.  The school district bought land in this area and everybody knew that these 2 neighborhoods would go to the new school.  Suddenly it became a more desirable place to buy and prices went up.

2.  Greenbrier.  Several years ago I would get the same feedback from my buyers after showing houses in this neighborhood.  They would say “I love the neighborhood and all the space out here, but I don’t have $100k to renovate this house AND pay for private school.”  So, they wouldn’t buy it.  Now that “The Brier” is getting the new elementary and new high school, houses are selling and being renovated.

1.  Chilesburg.  Use to be only the first phase of that neighborhood went to Athens-Chilesburg Elementary (A.C.E.).  It never really made any sense since the school was right in the middle of the neighborhood.  The neighborhood got the school and prices have really gone up.  Use to be if you were in the mid $200k range and wanted that school, Andover Hills was your only option.  There use to be a big gap between similar sized houses in these two neighborhoods.  Not any more.  Chilesburg can pull the same money per sqaure foot as Andover Hills can now.  A 2500 square foot 4 bedroom house in Chilesburg use to be about $190-225k several years ago.  Practically the same floor plan in Andover Hills was getting $225-245k.  Now both are in the $245-255k range.

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.




Neighborhoods with good design

Some people just want a house.  Some people want a house and a neighborhood.  I don’t mean location when I say neighborhood.  That has more to do with proximity to features.  Neighborhood is a vibe thing.  A feeling.  Has to do with trees, the layout of the streets, etc.  Think curvy streets and roads with landscaped medians.  Some good examples are Hartland Parkway in Hartland, or Slashes in Ashland Park.

It is no surprise that neighborhoods with a good vibe are more desirable than neighborhoods that don’t.  That is one reason the exact same house is worth more in a neighborhood like Chilesburg than it is in Willow Bend or Masterson.

I am more of vibe person.  I really like neighborhoods that have some pretty features to see as you walk or drive through them.  An element of design.  So, here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head and why I like them:

  1.  Hartland is probably the best thought out neighborhood in Lexington since Chevy Chase and Ashland Park.  It has a landscaped median running through the whole neighborhood.  All of the cul-de-sacs have landscaped islands in the middle.
  2. Chilesburg-Since it has so many creeks running into the reservoirs in Jacobson Park, the developer didn’t have much of a choice but to work around them.  There are several ponds in the neighborhood, a walking trail with plank farm fencing around it, and some wooded greenspace areas such as the best one on Willman Way.
  3. Greenbrier-There is just something about seeing so much green as you drive through it.  Then you pass the clubhouse and see the golf course.
  4. The Woods-I really like the elevation changes and meandering road that runs through the whole neighborhood.  It is now old enough to have some amazing trees.  You feel like you have left the heart of the city and are in a secret, private place.  Lakewood is a lot like that too because Lakewood use to be on the edge of town.
  5. Chevy Chase and Ashland Park-no explanation needed.

Those are my favorites.  I don’t think we will see anything like these neighborhoods in Lexington again.  There just isn’t the space left.  Other than a few areas in town, we are down to infill projects.  Those often don’t have the space to do much more than clear the land and lay out the neighborhood in a way that maximizes the number of lots.

LEXpert first time buyer advice

The most important house you buy will be your first one.

It will be the one that sets you up for the next house and the next one and so on.  You want to carry as much equity into your next house as possible.

Buy a good one and it should be easy to sell when you want to move up or take that dream job out of town.

Buy the wrong one and it can be like having an iron ball shacked around your leg.

The hardest thing for most buyers, especially first time buyers, is to think about the exit plan.  One day, you will want to sell your house as much as you wanted to buy it.

Here are some unchangeable features that are often deal killers:

1.  Steep driveways.  Kids can’t play.  Nobody wants to slide down it in the winter.

2.  A bunch of small rooms.

3.  A busy road, either in front or back.

4.  A sloping backyard.  Slopping downhill from the house is a little better than sloping uphill.

5.  Noise.  Could be a bus stop, traffic, a train.

6.  Lack of privacy.  People do not want to be in their backyard and feel like they can’t scratch their butt without a neighbor seeing them.

Keep in mind that in a fast market, ANY house will sell.  We are in a market like we were in 2005 where there are not a lot of choices.  Buyers are feeling happy to get any house.   Many people who bought 2nd tier houses back then realized their mistake in the bad market of 2007-2012.  Just because the market is hot now does not mean it always will be.

If you are a home owner who has a 2nd tier house, then now is your time to sell it!

The LEXpert tours Timber Creek

It was a beautiful day yesterday.  Had to put the top down and talk about one of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Lexington in the $120-160k range……Timber Creek.

If you want to be near Hamburg in this price range, your choices are pretty much the neighborhoods off of Liberty Road or Timber Creek.  I’ve always recommended Timber Creek.  It just has a lot of things going for it.  It’s got a park close by, a walking trail, banks, restaurants, gas stations, a veterinarian and other businesses, it is just across Man O War from Hamburg, and it is in an area with much higher priced houses.

I tend to think of Timber Creek as two neighborhoods really.  The earlier section has bigger lots.  It feels a lot like Eastwood, which is another neighborhood I like.  The newer section has smaller lots and more of a Masterson Station vibe.  My favorite section is the older one just because it has more space, but the location is so good that I can recommend both.

Here is a video I did of the park that is within walking distance from Timber Creek: