Touring Mountainside Property in Winter
Buyers shopping in Prince William and Fauquier Counties for a "deal" will often get frustrated with the price points. Our suburban Virginia real estate market is not cheap. So buyers looking for a super affordable single family home will often start searching in the next westward locale, which is Warren County. Homes in Linden and Front Royal are relative bargains. Buyers don't necessarily want to hear WHY they properties are so inexpensive. They just want us to gas up the car and go out to show them these amazing single family homes.
Sure, maybe we told them about the lack of paved roads. They say they can deal. We tell them how the roads are narrow and very curvy. One agent I spoke with said he tells his buyers interested in these mountain homes, "The guard rails have paint samples from every car in the neighborhood." Nothing sways a motivated buyer. They want to see these bargains.
Saturday, I hauled out to Warren County to show homes in High Knob, a Front Royal mountainside neighborhood. The temperature registering on my car's thermostat was bouncing between 17-18 degrees as we entered the gate at the base of the mountain. As we ascended, the temperature went lower and the roads narrower. And, wouldn't you know, the great deal we were going to see was about as high up as you could go on this mountain.
Despite being in a four wheel drive truck, I saw the driveway which went straight down to the home and declined any attempt to try it. There was snow on the ground. The thermostat on the car was now reading 13 degrees. I pulled as far over as I could to the side of the dirt/gravel road and turned on my hazard lights. Next, I exited the vehicle to approach my buyer, who was following in his own four wheel drive truck. My exact words, as I pointed to the steep decline was, "That's the driveway to the house. I'm not taking my truck down there, but you are more than welcome to." As I recall, his exact response was, "Holy slippery hell. No way!"
At that point, I thought the home tour was not happening and asked if we should go to the next one. My buyer was not having it. He wanted to see the home. He was rationalizing how he would deal with this driveway in snowy conditions. The time had come when I could use my Yak Trax, so I strapped them on and prayed I would not fall and land on my rear end. It took me about ten minutes to get down, but I did so without falling.
The house didn't work for the buyer. The floor plan was weird and there was going to be a ton of water damage as the owner had left the vacant home without heat. The water in the toilets and tank was frozen. You just knew the pipes were also toast.
Before we left, I did take a shot from the deck of the amazing view. Of course, it was just as harrowing to ascend that driveway. By the time we got to the top, the buyer was apologizing. There was no way, even if the floor plan worked, this home was going to work. We took some time to catch our breath, get in our trucks and descended the mountain to ever so slightly warmer temps.
If you are considering a mountainside home in Linden or Front Royal, I would encourage you to take a drive out before you get sold on the location. Of course, please don't attempt this during a snow or ice storm. However, while you are out there, consider what the roads will be like during winter weather. We definitely get snow and/or ice every winter and these are not state maintained roads. Trucks guzzle a lot more gas in four wheel drive, and you'll be using a lot of it. Just one of the hidden costs of the bargain priced mountain homes. You are also going to be living in about five degree colder temps. Heating bills are going to be higher. You also can't zip out to the corner store (there isn't one) to grab something you are craving. This is the type of place where you have your pantry fully stocked. Keep those things in mind when finding these bargains online. You may realize the cost to live in Fauquier or Prince William Counties isn't so high after all.