REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Nice, but... Value for money in Free Union?


Address: 3830 Blufton Mill Road

Neighborhood: Free Union

Asking: $499,900

Assessment: $295,900 (under Land Use program)

Year Built: 1972

Size: 2,448 fin. sq. ft./600 unfin.

Land: 12.83 acres

Agent: Mary Leavell, 434-989-5860

Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10

In this market, buyers need to consider value. While it's simple to look at price and calculate cost per square foot, they need to consider what they personally value in life and how a house reflects that. In real estate, the true value of a property is really only as much (or as little) as the highest bidder wants to pay, and it can be helpful to think of cost in more flexible terms. This Free Union property, dubbed Poplar Hill, needs some work, but it has space inside and out and offers possibilities for the right buyer.

The original owner was handicapped. As a result, the entire house is on one level without a basement. While there is no separate storage aside from the usual closets and cabinets, the rooms are large. An attached three-car garage is handy for the riding lawnmower needed to maintain the lawn.

The windows (and views) are among the best features. In fact, most of the rooms have windows on two sides, allowing for a surprising amount of light (or a large creepy factor if you're squeamish about wide open spaces and windows after dark).

The house lies off a gravel road a couple of turns from Garth Road, about a 15- to 20-minute drive from town. The property overlooks Buck Mountain, lush swaths of clover, and a picturesque pond complete with a bridge: we could hear birds chirping and not much else, which will also be true for new owners, since much of the surrounding property is in conservation easements.

A paved driveway surrounds the entire house and several outdoor living spaces, from a patio off the kitchen complete with built-in grill, to a terrace and detached deck-like structure at ground level with a fireplace. The deck wood needs to be replaced, but these areas are prime spots for outdoor entertaining. 

The agent suggests the proximity to two stables makes the place perfect for a family of equestrians. Neighbors coordinate hikes and share riding trails. 

A room marked "studio" on the floor plan adjoins the kitchen, outdoor living, and garage. Rather than a studio, the linoleum-floored space– with washer/dryer, some cabinets, and a half bath– would work well as a transition space with plenty of room for riding gear. 

The details of the house are dated. Wood paneling in the den (or office) off the dining and living areas is of the same period as built-in cabinets with mirrored backing, and the chandeliers scream 1970. Continuity is lacking: flooring shifts from soapstone to laminate parquet to carpet, and linoleum and cabinets in the "studio" and kitchen are mismatched.

Bedroom areas are also a little awkward, and the floor plan notes two masters: one, with double closets, immediately off the foyer. The other, with a single roomy closet, is accessed by a sitting room. This cluster of rooms does not seem to offer much privacy but could work well for a family with young children.

On the other hand, the space is sprawling, and windows contribute to the effect of huge space. The kitchen could accommodate a large island or breakfast table. One of the master baths is big enough to renovate to a his-and-hers retreat.

The agent says the land alone is worth the asking price. And that may be true, depending on the value potential buyers see.



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