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.
Here are some things that have been on The LEXpert’s mind lately:
- I am seeing more and more interest in the houses around Liberty Road and Henry Clay Blvd. About 25 years ago I saw that once Kenwick got expensive, interest would move to the Courtney/Clayton area. And once those prices shot up, it would keep going further down Henry Clay Blvd. What I didn’t see back then was that Delaware would become a hip spot for businesses and restaurants. Back then, we all thought it would remain the scuzzy industrial area it had always been. You watch, once the National Avenue area gets filled and rents go up, you’ll see more businesses you want to frequent along Delaware and Winchester Road. The great thing about the Henry Clay/Liberty Road area is that you are minutes to downtown, minutes to NoLi, and minutes to Hamburg. It really is an ideal location.
- Greenbrier is seeing a lot of sales. I have seen several that sold by word of mouth lately. A couple others sold extremely fast. I think it mostly has to do with the new school districts. It is no longer a nice neighborhood on the wrong part of town thanks to Hamburg. It is also no longer a nice neighborhood with a poor performing school district. It will attract people who want to have their kids in public school now. That makes for a broader market. That means more buyers for fewer houses. That means prices go up.
- The $350-500k market is strong in Lexington still, even as we get late in the year. Sales seem to come in waves. There might be a few slow weeks for certain parts of town and then, all the sudden, that area will have lots of sales in one week.
- Century Hills is blowing my mind. I have seen several 3 bedroom/1 bath houses without a garage sell for over $100k, some close to $110k. It wasn’t too long ago that the nicest ones out there were $95k! Percentage wise, that is a huge increase. Looks like we are back to the days where under $100k doesn’t get much.
- I think that the new Citation Blvd is going to be a big gain for the west side of town. That road really ties together all the neighborhoods between Georgetown and Leestown Road so well. It is easier to get in and out of that area too. It nolonger feels like a bunch of random neighborhoods scattered across the west side of town. Businesses are what the area needs. I think values will really go up if the residents of those neighborhoods do not have to go to Hamburg or south Lexington for shopping/dinning/entertainment. A nice big road like this might attract them.
This is an exciting time to be in real estate. Things are changing so fast. Prices are increasing in some areas, stable in others. Tastes are shifting too. It is a lot to keep up with…….every new business, every new road that opens changes how people feel about a location.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This neighborhood use to be on the edge of Lexington. It was a rural setting with high end houses on acre lots. There is a section of land that later became available. Those houses are still on larger than normal lots, but less than an acre. It is close to upscale dining and shopping. It has other equally desirable neighborhoods around it. When you are in this neighborhood, you still can feel a little bit of how it use to be in the country.
Know what two neighborhoods I am talking about? I bet some long term Lexingtonians who know 40502 will say Lakewood. Everybody else may think Greenbrier. Both are right.
Back in the 50s when Lakewood was being developed, it was on the edge of town. There were no curbs on the streets. The lots were big. It was a rural setting. Things like New Circle Road and The Lansdowne Shoppes did not exist. There was no Alumni Drive. Just a country road called Mount Tabor. It eventually became surrounded by other nice neighborhoods. Then in the mid 80s to mid 90s various bits of a large chunk of land became available and were developed.
In the 70s and 80s, Greenbrier was in the country too. There was no Man O War nor Hamburg. You took Winchester Road or Bryant Road to get there. Greenbrier is now surrounded on 3 sides by neighborhoods like Walnut Grove Estates, Bryant Oak Place, Ashford Oaks and The Reserve at Greenbrier (which has absolutely nothing to do with Greenbrier….guess you can’t trademark neighborhood names?)
Greenbrier is in for some changing. It has already begun. It really isn’t a rural neighborhood any more. It is turning into the classic upscale 40509 neighborhood much like Lakewood, or Ashland Park are to 40502. What makes both unique are not only the larger lots, but the feel of the neighborhood that just can’t be matched elsewhere. Those newer streets in Lakewood were full of much nicer houses than the others when they were new. Right now, the Jimmy Nash houses are much nicer than anything in Greenbrier proper. But what can’t be duplicated is the mature landscaping and the peaceful easy feeling you get in the older parts of Lakewood and Greenbrier……those features were part of developing the neighborhood. Developers just don’t do that any more.
So, I think we will see more buyers viewing Greenbrier as a unique neighborhood surrounded by other upscale neighborhoods in a convenient location. When I moved here in 1985, Greenbrier was way out of town. It is hard to believe there is a Costco less than 5 minutes away now. Lakewood 2.0, here we come!