Touring Mountainside Property in Winter

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

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 It doesn't look so steep in the picture, but believe me, it was straight down.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!"

View from the mountain house.  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.  

The steepest, snowiest, most dangerous driveway I have ever encountered.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.



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Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

If nothing else it is a beautiful part of your area Chris Ann Cleland painted white.

Jan 09, 2017 08:41 PM #1
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Chris Ann --- as I was reading your post, that ol' real estate mantra kept playing in my brain -- location - location - location.  Why is it cheaper out there? I think your photo along with your description of the property paints a pretty clear picture.   

Jan 09, 2017 09:22 PM #2
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire

Chris Ann

Granted it doesn't snow living where I do. Only one time in over 40 years that I have been here has it snowed and that was Christmas Eve about 30 years ago. All melted by noon and I was driving my 356 Porsche doing snow donuts until it was gone. One question, is Marios Pizza still there in Arlington? Way too many late night stories tucked among the ovens there. cheers cvc

Jan 09, 2017 11:50 PM #3
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

What a wonderful overview of both the "deals" and the higher priced but much more accessible Prince William and Fauquier counties. Now I have to go look up Yak Trax to see what that is.


Jan 10, 2017 03:29 AM #4
Marco Giancola
Beachfront Realty - Miami Beach, FL
Realtor (305)608-1922, Miami Beach Florida

Hi Chris-I am sure it must be beautiful in summer!  

Jan 10, 2017 05:20 AM #5
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker

Good morning Chris. While a summer visit may be on my list, this city boy does not do winter in the mountains! Enjoy your day!

Jan 10, 2017 05:51 AM #6
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I am glad I don't have to do what you do to show homes, you went way more than the extra mile. It was an extra mile uphill in both directions!

Jan 10, 2017 06:44 AM #7
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Chris Ann. This story is sooooo good. There is no free lunch and I'm glad you got out safely.

Jan 10, 2017 07:02 AM #8
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Chris Ann,

Loved the pictures, and mountainside living is not for everyone.  Like with everything else there are pros and cons.  Happy Tuesday,  A

Jan 10, 2017 07:54 AM #9
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Chris Ann - The motivations are a bit different - a lot of folks move out here and just have to live in the mountains (I was like that, way back when), but the conditions are similar. If you ever come out this way, I'll give you a tour of Whale Rock Rd - the most infamous of our mountain home journeys - the views are great, but getting to them - not so much.

Jan 10, 2017 02:46 PM #10
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Those are gorgeous views, Chris Ann!  While touring in areas that have a lot of snow can have challenges at times, there are the rewards.

Jan 10, 2017 06:52 PM #11
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint
Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Chris Ann while this home not a success I am sure you now have a loyal client for your gusto in showing the home.  Kudos.  m 

Jan 11, 2017 05:36 AM #12
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager are a better woman than I am because no way in Hell I would have gone down and back up that driveway!

Jan 11, 2017 11:10 AM #13
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

This reminds me of when I lived in Nederland, Colorado, about a half hour up the road from Boulder. I had an excuse for it, though, I was in my 20's, young and foolish and didn't care how long it took me to get home from work at night, or that when I opened my front door in the winter with coffee cup in hand, the wind would snatch that coffee outta that cup and deposit all down the front of my coat, or that driving through the narrows meant shifting into 2nd gear and hoping to God your car didn't stall. For some people, it's worth it to live in the mountains, somewhat isolated, but not just on a whim.

Jan 11, 2017 01:04 PM #14
Karen Hellier
Freelance Writer - Big Canoe, GA
Freelance Writer for Professionals, North Georgia

You have made some great points in this post Chris Ann. I love mountain homes but that one sounds like one I couldn't even handle in the winter.

Jan 11, 2017 08:41 PM #15
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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