Looking at Land in the Winter

Anyone who has tried to walk their way through hay fields or woodland during high summer knows what a blessing the dormancy of winter can be, especially when it’s below freezing. It’s easy going in the winter without the threat of poison ivy, blackberry brambles or snakes and you can see all there is to see once the leaves are off the trees.

Pond on 165 acres of fenced farmland near Scottsville Virginia

Ever wonder what the view might be like if you cleared off a couple of trees? Ever wonder if you’ll see that neighbor’s house that seems so nicely screened with trees in the summer?

Camp Buckingham forest

Winter is the best time to look at land especially when it’s nice and frozen and mud is not an issue. Make sure you are aware of hunting seasons and enjoy walking the land without sweating the summer stuff.

Creek at Camp Buckingham

Speaking of land, there’s no better offering on the market right now than Camp Buckingham near Scottsville, 168 acres of fenced pasture and mature hardwood forest with significant timber value, two ponds, gorgeous building sites and lots of division rights. It’s a great value too at just $471,000. MLS# 512843.

Camp Buckingham land for sale near Scottsville VA

John Ince installed as 2014 President of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors

I was honored on Thursday, January 9th by our Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors by being installed as their 2014 President. Thanks to decades of dynamic leadership by our dedicated members and tireless staff, CAAR is one of the most respected Realtor Association in the country. I will do my best to guide our Board of Directors and represent our Association during 2014.

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South River Vineyard

1677 Octonia Road, Stanardsville, Virginia 22973
MLS 514589

South River Vineyard is listed for sale with Nest Realty.

South River Vineyard, Stanardsville VA

Here’s your chance to be a stop on The Monticello Wine Trail. There are now over 200 wineries in Virginia and Virginia wines are impressing more and more critics in international blind tastings. South River Vineyard just north of Charlottesville is a small (seven acres) vineyard with mature vines growing in a near perfect Terroir (the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with the plant’s genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee and chocolate). South River Vineyard produces Chardonnay, Petit Mensang and Viognier grapes for several nearby wineries that have won significant awards with their exceptional fruit.

The vineyard is just a small part of this spectacular property of 92 choice acres overlooking the pristine South River Valley, nestled into the Blue Ridge mountains just south of Charlottesville, Virginia in Greene County. The current owners built a custom home on the property at the highest point overlooking the vineyards and the spectacle of this pristine valley where time seems to stand still. The home, with four bedrooms and three and a half baths, has been meticulously maintained and upgraded since it was built in 1992. Its timeless design and iconic Deck House quality assure it will stand for the ages. There is also a two bedroom manager’s residence above the equipment garage situated below the main residence.

Like most of the surrounding farms, South River Vineyard is protected with a conservation easement which precludes subdivision but allows for the construction of another residence and a winery that could be open to the public. All options are viable, from leasing the vineyard to a nearby winery for cash and wine, managing the vineyard and selling the fruit or expanding the vineyard and creating your own winery in one of the most spectacular settings in the Piedmont.

South River Vineyard - Kitchen and Dining Area South River Vineyard - Master Bedroom with a view

Please call or email John Ince for more details or to set up a tour of South River Vineyard.

South River Vineyard aerial map

Charlottesville Real Estate, Creating a Family compound

Madison County with view of Old Rag

Creating a family compound

My father’s mother’s family emigrated from Germany and settled in Wisconsin. Several related families formed something like a commune with farmers, a butcher, a storekeeper and enough talent and diversity to survive on their own. That’s how my grandmother was raised as a child, one hundred years ago. About fifteen years ago I sold a farm in Greene County to a retiring couple. The property had two homes in need of work and nearly 200 acres. Today, three generations live there separately but together with kids growing up thinking it’s normal to walk up the hill to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In those moments of quiet reflection when real priorities surface, utopia might feel like that to you. It does for me.

More and more often I’m hearing from clients who want to have the ability to provide a home site for each of their children should they ever want or need to be close again. It’s a beautiful idea as a plan or just a possibility but there are some important things to keep in mind as you browse through listings. In most counties, a division right is required in order to build more than one single family home on a property. Counties differ widely in how they allocate division rights. Even when division rights are available there are additional criteria imposed by VDOT concerning access and by the health department regarding septic suitability. Beyond that there may be covenants and restrictions prohibiting further division or easements upon the land that are more restrictive than county ordinances. Most counties are more lenient with family sub-divisions than with commercial projects but it’s important to know what rights convey if you are thinking of sharing your land with family or friends.

These are the kinds of questions we get from time to time where we really can help as you narrow down the properties to look at. We’re a lot more than a data portal. We really know this ground and can keep you from wasting your time. So, ask your country property expert about division rights, soil suitability and land planning. If you don’t have one, I’ll be happy to help.

Why would anyone want a farm in Virginia?

Ridgeview Farm, Orange County. Click picture for property brochure.

When your world consists of finished square feet and you’ve found a way to make that wonderful with beautiful decorating, climate control and all the comforts money can buy, why would you even think about a farm? When your outdoor grill turns your multi level deck into a gourmet smorgasbord and you toast your perfect neighbors with a chilled chardonnay, why would you ever imagine a silent, starry night without another home in sight? When your children excel on the soccer field, enjoy sleepovers with dozens of friends and prep for college with AP classes, why disrupt their happy lives with cows and horses, mowing and mucking?

When a challenging day in the office leaves you with a few more gray hairs and a perfect day in the suburbs begins to feel mundane, imagine a world where things grow because the sun shines and your day is governed by the weather and the sunset, where work makes your muscles sore and you can see what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, where your nosy neighbors are replaced by lowing cows and your outdoors speakers are crickets and tree frogs.

For many people there is a primal pull back to nature, back to the land. Perhaps it’s where true safety abides. All our carefully laid sticks and stones are so easily swept away yet the land remains with the ability to provide food and shelter for our basic survival. Perhaps it’s a subliminal contingency plan. Survivalists aside, there is a feeling that’s hard to describe as one stands upon the land and feels apart from the civilized world yet connected to a larger world that exists, even thrives without us. Perhaps that’s what “grounded” really means and why the Realtors Preamble begins, “Under all is the land”

Think about it. Fifty, a hundred acres, farm land, woodland, mountain land, a getaway where you and yours re-connect, work and play. You don’t have to go all in, few do. Most of these beautiful farms are run by farmers who have lived here forever and make a living by leasing farms, maintaining them for you while they reap what they sow. The woodlands take care of themselves too, growing more valuable each year and qualifying for low forestal use taxes. Now that land is appreciating once again, it may fit nicely into an investment plan, a gift for future generations that has no equal.

Take Ridgeview Farm in Barboursville for example. It consists of 185 acres of gently rolling, grazing land with majestic views of the Southwest and Blue Ridge mountains. It was recently a registered Angus farm and a training facility for the owner’s daughter’s show jumpers. The five bedroom home, guest cottage, stables and indoor arena are beautifully maintained. The fields and fencing are also in great shape and ready for you or a tenant farmer to put them back to work. A farm of this quality is always easy to lease with payments covering taxes as the land appreciates. There are several other farms like this, priced to sell as the market recovers. Call your country property specialist or call me if you don’t have one to find out how you can get back to the land.

Up in the hollow

Last evening was wonderful. I had been asked to prepare a listing presentation for a family, out in the county, out in one of the hollows. The hollows exist all up and down the Blue Ridge and generally follow a stream out of mountains. The streams create some nice workable bottom land and have attracted homesteaders over the centuries that have tended to be pretty self sufficient. They have a sense of community defined geographically at first which then evolves into the rich lore of the mountains as families grow generation by generation and interact story by story.

Five siblings had gathered to interview me. We stood in the bare kitchen of the 1920’s farmhouse. It’s a small farmhouse, four bedrooms and one bath in a little over 1600 square feet. I stood along one wall while all five of them stood along the opposite wall. This was the very kitchen where they all grew up and ate every meal. The youngest was now more than 50. The wood fired cook stove was still hooked up to the flue and there were stacks of short stove wood on the back porch even though mother had passed away more than a year ago.

“She made the best biscuits in that stove, biscuits every morning. She made gravy every day too, never had a meal without gravy. Guess nobody would want that old stove now, would they?”
The four brothers had shared one room upstairs. They all had their own jobs and projects caring for the 50 acres of mountain pasture and woodland. One took care of the chickens, one took care of the hogs and they all took care of the vegetable garden which was over an acre. They weren’t talking about it nostalgically but as if they had just been doing it all yesterday. I asked why the linoleum floor in the kitchen was rubbed black in a couple of places.
“That’s where Mama stood by the stove and that’s where Daddy’s chair always was. We always sat in the same place around the table you know” You could see where the kitchen table had stood. It wasn’t a big table for seven.

We talked about the hollow a little, how you could get anything you wanted. Moonshine? Smiles all around. The property had been in the same family for generations. I expected to see some regrets but found none on their faces. None had continued the farming life. All were on an acre or two but all had moved out of the hollow and become successful in different professions around Charlottesville. I gave them my spiel and they listened carefully, asked important questions then all five signed the listing agreement. It’s a beautiful property and some retiring couple will likely buy it and build a fine home on one of the high knolls with views all the way down the Piedmont Valley. They might chuckle as they describe the hollow to their friends in Alexandria but hopefully, over time, they’ll embrace the lifestyle as they learn it, as the trucks that drive by become familiar and the waves more sincere. It’s a chance to understand an important and rich part of Americana where self reliant folk know they can rely on each other, where you know you could survive off the land if you needed to. You might just find a part of yourself that remembers.

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Charlottesville has been obsessed with their water treatment lately. I’ve always been on a well so have never really thought much about what’s added to my water but as a Realtor, this issue caught my attention. Charlottesville was ordered by the EPA to enhance the biotic control of their drinking water and chose chloramines, (ammonia added to chlorine) as their control agent. A ground swell of public opinion opposed to chloramines rose quickly due to their reputation of being non-biodegradable and harmful to human health, the environment and plumbing systems.

I attended the first public meeting on chloramines at the Albemarle County office building and found a packed house assembled to hear a panel of experts discussing the pros and cons of chloramine treatment systems. I was impressed with the balanced panel representing both sides of the debate. Citizen input was adamant but well ordered and spoke resoundingly against chloramines and for a more environmentally friendly granular activated carbon system.

Last night, July 25, was the second public hearing and again it was a packed house and an endless line of impassioned citizens speaking against chloramines. Headlines in the paper this morning were that the RWSA (Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority) had taken the chloramine option off the table and would be pursuing the more expensive but more eco-sensitive carbon system.

So, three cheers for our active citizens who took a stand, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Charlottesville City Council, Albemarle County Service Authority and RWSA for listening, facilitating the discussion and ultimately overturning a decision they considered practical and responsible but found ultimately was not the right fit for our enlightened population. We are fortunate to live in a country where this kind of debate is possible and a city and county where it is fully embraced and utilized.

Charlottesville real estate market report, First half 2012

Charlottesville Country Properties’ merger with Nest Realty has made us stat experts, something we may have lacked in the past is now one of our new strengths. The Nest Report is an in depth look at the rich data that profiles our real estate market and will give you a valuable insight into to trends that may well effect your decisions to buy or sell real estate. The data is compiled from our multiple listing records and formatted and analyzed to give you an easy understanding of important changes in our various sub-markets. Overall, the news looks good, sales are up inventory is down.

While trends in the farm and estate market don’t appear as positive at first glance, (3 fewer sales than first half 2011, 23 vs. 26), pending sales are very impressive with 19 properties currently under contract, 12 of which are over one million and two over five million. I expect to see pent up demand show itself soon as our buyer’s real estate becomes more liquid and the assumption of declining values disappears.

I’m proud to offer this comprehensive report from Nest Realty, one of the many benefits to you and to me of being associated with Charlottesville’s most innovative real estate company

Q2 2012 Charlottesville Nest Report

Within the Blue Ridge

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a perfect backdrop to the gently rolling hills of the Piedmont. From Stony Point or Somerset they are a blue silhouette, from Free Union and White Hall they are an imposing frontier. Venture in on the narrow, switchback gravel roads like Bacon Hollow Road in Greene County and you’ll start to understand another lifestyle. These mountains have been populated for centuries by a hardy lot that raised kids, cows and crops on meager soil cleared by hand and mule of the endless rocks that grow prolifically in this high air. What drove those early Americans to choose such a challenging lifestyle? Yes, the land was cheap but I think it was more than that. None could consider this lifestyle if they were not completely self sufficient. They would have to raise their own food, heal their own wounds and fix whatever broke.  It was in their make up to do it, man and woman alike and in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia they could thrive in their own way. While Albemarle County’s fine estates enjoyed chamber music and French wine, the mountain folk had their moonshine and fiddles and their own sort of joy. While driving up into the mountains in a SUV today isn’t quite the same as driving a team and a buckboard, step out into a mountain meadow at 2000 feet elevation and you can feel just as they did 150 years ago with cool mountain air and views that go forever. It’s not for everyone but there have always been a few that consider the mountains..almost heaven.

A new listing of 155 acres on Wyatt Mountain in Greene County and a two hour exploration of the property with a forester inspired this post and gave me a renewed appreciation for mountain land and its marvelous diversity. For more information on this outstanding new offering  click the link below.


Riverfront farms in Virginia James River, Rivanna River, Moormans River, South River, Rapidan River, Conway River

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

There is nothing like a river.  To sit on its banks and watch the river pass through, always changing, its shape, its color, its mood.  A pond is lovely but it’s still. A river moves and can take you places, whether in your mind or your canoe. It brings life into a property, a haven for wildlife, a place for summer memories of splashing children and rope swings, a too strong trout or bass that broke your line.

Riverfront properties are rare but we happen to have several on the market to share with you just now.

Scotts Landing Farm

First, on the mighty James River near Scottsville is Scotts Landing Farm with 219 acres of beautiful rolling pasture and hay land sloping down to long frontage along the James River. The farm is well fenced and improved with two good houses. Here you’ll see remnants of the old canal system and the tow paths where mules pulled the barges laden with trade goods to ports like Scottsville along this vital river. Scottsville, once bustling is now a sleepy river town at the southern tip of Albemarle County offering a taste of history just 25 minutes from downtown Charlottesville. http://caarmls.com/CAARReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=0809074015

Old Rhodes Farm

Just north of Charlottesville in Greene County we have two exceptional offerings on the South River, a fast mountain stream stocked with Rainbow trout. The Old Rhodes Farm is comprised of 143 acres in a postcard perfect setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With long frontage along the South River, this superb cattle farm is surrounded by other outstanding estate properties protected by Open Space easements to preclude any development in the area. There are two homes including the old farm house and a more modern tenant house. http://caarmls.com/CAARReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=0809074023

34 Acre South River Farm

About a mile downstream of the Old Rhodes Farm is a lovely home on 34 acres set well back from the state maintained road without another home in sight. For those who enjoy privacy without isolation, this setting is ideal with open fields surrounded by woodland and a path through the woods leading one down to the river. The all brick home with four bedrooms including a superb first floor master suite is ideal for the retiring couple with children that visit now and then. http://caarmls.com/CAARReports/ListitLib/show_report.aspx?ID=0809074017

If you love the idea of a riverfront property, we know what’s out there, with our own listings or those in the mls. We love to talk about rivers so give us a call and we’ll see what floats your boat.


Blue Ridge Morning

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.
Wake to the sun creeping up the Blue Ridge while still under your covers or slip out of your west facing first floor master suite onto your private deck and let the morning greet you in all its glory. Each day will be different as the weather shifts and changes, bringing you misty sunrises and glorious sunsets over the mountains. In 2008 our client purchased the premium parcel on Geer Lane just south of Stanardsville. The four acre parcel was chosen not just for the extraordinary vistas but also for its position in front of any other homes with nothing but the mountains and wild wetlands for her view. Here she built her dream home capturing views from every room of the 3800 square foot home and allowing her to live all on one floor with two guest bedrooms and a full, three room apartment on the finished terrace level. With four bedrooms and four full baths in total, this remarkably low maintenance, highly efficient home is a testament to exquisite design and modern craftsmanship taking full advantage of one of the most inspiring settings in Virginia’s Piedmont. It’s a postcard perfect setting and it could be your for a fraction of what it would cost to reproduce. Please call or email with any questions about this property. We’ll be happy to help.

Charlottesville, Virginia: A smart choice

by John Ince, President Charlottesville Country Properties, LTD.

If you take a spin around “The Corner”, that’s the student centric quarter mile of University Avenue with the Rotunda and UVA grounds on one side and pizza, beer and bookstores on the other, you’ll see a pretty normal looking bunch of kids walking about, enjoying everything a four year tour in Charlottesville has to offer. What is hard to grasp is that these kids were all in the top 1% of their high school classes and had to have a GPA over 4.0 to even make the first cut. These are brainy kids. Charlottesville is a pretty brainy town.

The University of Virginia along with its hospital and health services is by far our largest employer and its research arm has fostered tremendous growth among Biotech companies that thrive in this intellectual community. Charlottesville is considered the Biotech hub of Virginia with major expansion occurring in 2011 when MicroAire took over the 72,000 square foot US Postal service building and Biotechnologies took over the 38,000 square foot Coca Cola plant. There is big time science going on here, cancer research, Alzheimer’s research, things that change lives.

The US Military consolidated and moved its three primary intelligence gathering agencies to Rivanna Station in northern Albemarle County beginning in 2009. When the move is complete there will be 2600 military and civilian employees charged with monitoring our security interests throughout the world. If you think those kids on the UVA campus might be hiding some smarts under those hoodies you might also want to think twice about that sharp looking guy or gal in the Army camo standing in line at the Walmart in front of you. He or she probably has top secret security clearances and has a desk job that could have international consequences. These are the people keeping our whole country safe.

When one considers UVA luminaries like Rita Dove, Larry Sabato and Julian Bond, the remarkable doctors, surgeons and researchers in our hospitals and research centers, the highest of high tech military intelligence and the amazing collection of retired captains of industry that call Charlottesville home, one can only hope that it might rub off a little. I think it does, in ways that lift our consciousness at least a little in all facets of our day to day lives and cause us to expect a little more of ourselves. It’s one of those little things that’s impossible to quantify but makes living here a richer experience.