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Old 04-16-2012, 07:57 AM
 
13 posts, read 35,791 times
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Hi all. Recently moved to Richmond (renting a home while we search for one to buy) and working in Lexington. This gives us the opportunity to visit different neighborhoods and try to get a good handle on what would be the best fit for us. However, you can only tell so much from driving around, so I was hoping for some good, honest opinions on various aspects of the neighborhoods we're interested in. We're looking for at least a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, with a two-car garage, a finished basement for a rec room/play area, something around 3000 sq ft would be excellent, price range between $275 - 375 (trying to keep the budget low, but tempted to stretch it), and the part that I would love to have but I'm starting to feel would be the hardest to find: a nice yard... maybe about 0.25 acres and not looking directly into someone else's backyard. I know the 40502 area is highly desirable and the school district sounds fantastic, but I'm afraid that we would have to give up too much (square footage and a yard, etc) in order to get ourselves in those neighborhoods for our price range. I'm sure many see the Hamburg area as too "commercial", but we love the convenience of anything you could want being at your fingertips, and for a few other reasons, this area has become the focus of our search. We found a neighborhood called Greenbrier that we LOVE (huge yards, houses vary in style, golf club with pool), BUT, it sounds like the school district leaves alot to be desired and we would have to send all the kiddos (a two year old, a bun in the oven, and possibly more to come) to private school, which I'm sure would be great, but is a pretty hefty expense when we know there are good public schools. We have also checked out Andover Hills, which is beautiful and really has a nice family feel, but my only complaint is that we would almost feel like we had to have a house that backed-up to the golf course, or it seems like we would walk out our backdoor and be in the neighbor's backyard (this may be inaccurate - we've only driven through a couple of times). We recently discovered (online - haven't been there in person yet) a neighborhood called Stuart Hall, which we're very optimistic about. Looks like it has the same schools as Andover, which the exception of A.C.E. - replaced by Breckinridge, which doesn't sound that impressive. Of course, it's a huge priority to send the kids to good schools, so my question is this: is it option to send them to a private elementary, then put them into the public system once they've reached middle school? I've noticed some of the Stuart Hall homes have slightly larger yards and back-up to a farm, which is very appealing to us to have that open view from our backyard. Didn't intend to write this much but there it is! Thanks to anyone with any insight for us - would really appreciate it!
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Todds Rd. area
969 posts, read 2,480,477 times
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I live in Andover Hills and do a lot of work in this area. I've been in many of the houses in all the neighborhoods you mentioned.

It is hard to get anything decent in Greenbrier in your price range. I know because I've been looking for myself for over a year out there and haven't found one!! The school district leaves a bit to be desired too....altough it is a great neighborhood.

Andover Hills does have some decent lots, but most will be on a cul-de-sac, which means you get a decent backyard, but a tiny front yard. Andover Hills is right in your budget. There is one on Chestnut Hill right now that may meet your needs. When a good one comes on the market out here, it doesn't last long because it is the only neighborhood in it's price range that is districted to A.C.E. Look on the elementary school map and you'll see that most of A.C.E is the rural areas just outside the urban service area. There aren't a whole lot of neighborhoods that go to A.C.E.

There are several lots on Broadmoor and Maple Ridge that back to an undeveloped neighborhood that has a tree lined walking trail around it. The ones on Broadmoor have more trees behind them than the ones on Maple Ridge. The yards would still be small, but they are much more private. There are TONS of kids on Broadmoor. They frequently play all over the street. Ridgeview is also full of kids and has a small park on top of some gas lines that couldn't be build over, but it is a main cut through for the neighborhood. Winter Hill between Ridgeview and Glen Abbey gets a lot of traffic.

Stuart Hall is nice too. Prices have come down a lot more than other areas out in 40509. I think it is stable now. Many of the lots are bigger. I personally would avoid ones that back to the old houses that are on Richmond Road. Resale may be an issue since you can hear Richmond Road INSIDE some of those houses. Also, those little houses on Richmond Road that were there long before it was a 4 lane road get tens of thousands of cars passing by every day. It would not shock me at all if one day there was a strip mall behind those houses with stores like a Subway, Great Clips, etc. The ones that back to the farm (I've been in the one that is on the market right now) are nice, but keep in mind too, that might not always be a farm. I would have hesitation recommending Hannah Todd, even tough I have friends on that street, just because of the townhouses built in the middle. They are nice now, but townhouses usually end up as investor owned at some point in time.....plus the added traffic due to the density.

If you are considering Stuart Hall, you may also take a look at Chilesburg. Same school district. There are some decent lots out there too. There are actually something like 83 houses in the initial phase of Chilesburg that do go to A.C.E. It is the section right across from the school that is bound by Todds Road, Hays, and the interstate. It is too loud over there for me with all those roads. Keep in mind though that once you get up to about $275k in Chilesburg, your competition when you go to sell will be Stuart Hall. I think the few houses in Chilesburg that are over that will become harder to sell because most buyers will go for Stuart Hall just because there are more houses in that price range and it is slightly nicer. $250-275k is about as much as I ever recommend people spend in Chilesburg.

For your budget, you could also look at Andover Forest, but you have the same issue with lot size as Andover Hills. That is Liberty Elementary, Hays, and Henry Clay.

Yeah, you could do private school for elementary and then switch to public. Look into the various magnet programs that the public schools offer. We have our kids in one of the top rated programs and we can live anywhere in Fayette County (We do have to provide our own trasnportation. There is often a bus that comes to a central location-but it is not guaranteed every year. Lots of people carpool.)

Like you said, it is so convenient to have 80% of everything you'll ever need so close. My wife and I had reservations at Bonefish and it took 7 minutes to get inside the restaurant from our driveway. Most people associate traffic with Hamburg, but it is because they live in other parts of town and think there is only one way in and out of Hamburg. I always get a kick out of seeing all the people waiting to turn left from Man O War onto Sir Barton while there are only a handful of cars coming in from Liberty on Star Shoot.......Ofcourse, those on the south end of town probably laugh at me when I go to Fayette Mall since I do the same thing :-)
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:41 AM
 
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LEXpert, thank you soooo much for your reply. My husband is in love with Greenbrier, and would be willing for us to blow the budget to get out there, but I really have reservations about doing private schools when I know there are good public ones. Could you explain a little more about what you mentioned with your children? They are in a magnet program, so you can live anywhere, but you have a say in where they go? Sorry, but I am just completely unfamiliar with how the magnet system works. Thank you for mentioning the road noise in Stuart Hall. That is a HUGE factor for me, as our rental home is near a major road, and the noise drives me crazy. Having a quiet home (the kiddos will make their own noise) is very important to me. My husband works near UK (a pharmacist), so a 20-25 minute drive is reasonable. Sounds like you would give Stuart Hall a tentative thumbs up, but would be concerned about resale? The neighborhood looks lovely online, but I feel like you're telling me it's mediocre compared to Andover? I know Andover is probably the perfect fit for us, I am just hung up on the small yards, because I am so used to wide open spaces that we enjoyed at our previous homes. Thank you so much for your input - it is extremely helpful.
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Old 04-16-2012, 03:04 PM
 
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Many of the magnet programs in the schools are by either talent or language and usually involve a lottery for placement. I would be leery of buying and then taking a chance on being chosen and being passed over. Then you would be stuck in a less than desirable school district. If you are in magnet program then the idea of a 20-25 minute commute could include a 15 minute wait in the drop-off lane or a 20 minute scenic side trip to the out of the way school site.

Over the years, I have seen many folks have to readjust their expectations of larger lots for $300k or so. The larger lots are becoming priced out of many budgets and what used to look onto an open field now looks at an apartment complex.
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Old 04-16-2012, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Todds Rd. area
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Yes, I give a thumb's up to Stuart Hall as long as you don't back up to townhouses, Richmond Road or are directly across from the middle school.....all of which covers about 1/3 of the neighborhood. A few years ago, Stuart Hall was selling for much more than similar exisiting neighborhoods in 40509. I remember asking myself why people are paying Andover Forest money for Stuart Hall. Seems other people must have had the same thought. Back then, it seemed like it was viewed as a scaled down Still Meadows, and now it comes across as upscale Chilesburg.

Now that Stuart Hall seems to have stabilized, I think it is safe to buy there. I have looked there too myself and have shown many houses to many buyers. Andover Hills is a little better just because of the school district (A.C.E.) I have had several buyers (both ones I have worked with and those that have bought my listings) move from a similar house in another neighborhood just to get into A.C.E.

Here is a link to the Fayette County Public Schools site about the magnet program: Education Options

I too wouldn't buy a house planning on getting into one of the programs, but it is worth looking into.....especially if you may do private school anyway. BTW, I take my son to Maxwell every morning and it takes me 35 minutes from the time I leave my driveway until I get back into it......and I'm married to a pharmacist too!
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:08 PM
 
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Default Price per square foot?

LEXpert,
Okay, I still like Stuart Hall, but, um, you've pretty much got me narrowed down to one street - the one that backs up to the farm. And now I'm looking back over at Andover Hills again. I love the house you mentioned on the golf course, but of course, it's at the top of the budget, whereas Stuart Hall is at the bottom. Anyway, I wanted to ask you what is average/reasonable for a price per square foot for a house in Andover Hills? It seems to vary considerably... anywhere from $98 to $125. I know a lot of things factor in, for example, we bought our house in North Carolina for $140/sq ft and are now selling it for $135/sq ft (ugh...). Just thought I would ask to see if you could give me a little insight on that aspect of the bargaining process. Thanks!
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Todds Rd. area
969 posts, read 2,480,477 times
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Well, we don't really use cost per square foot much around here because it can vary so much and it is a very broad way of looking at averages. Plus, with the areas you are looking in, some may have unfinished basements which add value but won't be included in the cost per square foot equation. It is more reliable to look at comps and cut and paste for differences in finishes, square footage, features. In Stuart Hall, there is a wide range because some streets, like Hays, sell for less and there have been some short sales that always go for less than a similar sized house. In Andover, the average will be really wide because some are on the golf course. Andover is really several mini-neighborhoods that we all group together as "Andover Hills". Andover Park and Andover Green are the cheapest houses in the area. Then, the ones on Broadmoor and Maple Ridge are a step up, mainly because there are more basement lots over there. Then Winter Hill/Ridgeview. Then the ones on Chestnut Hill (Technically Andover Club), Mint Hill, Andover Village and Gingermill (Technically Andover Lakes I and II). The cream of the crop are the ones in the Estate Section and the ones on Park Ridge and Lake Valley that back to Jacobson Park and/or the golf course. Andover is like that because it was developed by several different developers over about 15 years.

Maybe this will help you out since it sounds like your goal is to see what you can get for your money in either neighborhood:

In about the past 6-12 months I have been in several in Stuart Hall that have now sold. A 4000 square foot one on Emilie with a finished pit (non-walkout) basement went for $309k. It was move in ready, had hardwoods, tile, granite counter tops. Another one on Isabella that was similar went for $303k. A 2800 square foot one on Jane Briggs on an unfinished basement that had some hardwood, but wasn't upgraded much went for $280k. Personally, I wouldn't spend more than $310-320k in Stuart Hall and at that price I expect an awesome house. I've been in several of the pending sales and active listings too, but that doesn't help us any with determining value since they haven't sold yet.

In Andover Hills, one on Park Ridge that was around 3000 square feet with a basement that was half finished and was a walk-up went for $280k. It was pretty plain finish wise, but in good condition. We almost bought that one, but it backed up to some undeveloped land that would one day be houses......my wife really loved that one, but she'll thank me as soon as we see a bulldozer over there. One on Chestnut Ridge that I was in went for $317,500. It was 3750 square feet-finished basement with the garage in the basement. It wasn't updated. The windows and deck were rough. A 4000 square foot one on Winter Hill on the golf course side just went for $290k. It wasn't that updated. Did have granite, but everything else was original. Nice golf course view, but the basement was configured oddly. A 3000 square foot one with a partially finished basement went for $275k on Glen Abbey. It was pretty original. It had a huge unfinished space over the garage that you got to from the upstairs hall, so that added some value. A really boring one with granite countertops on an unfinshed basement went for $276k on Gingermill. It was 2500 square feet. There was a short sale on Maple Ridge that was 3100 square feet on a basement that went for $260k. The rooms in that one seemed really small. I sold one on Maple Ridge just over a year ago for $260k that was all original except for a roof and windows on an unfinished basement. In Andover Woods, a 3200 sq ft one on a finished basement went for $248k. Those are just the ones that have sold in the past year that I have been inside of. Same thing as Stuart Hall, I've been in many that are pending or are still active, but that doesn't help with determining a price.

A lot of my clients are thinking like you are with the whole Stuart Hall verses Andover Hills. I always tell them that you are more likely to get a bigger lot and a more updated house in Stuart Hall than you will in Andover Hills. Andover Hills has more charm and a better performing elementary school, but so many of them are really outdated (I still have a green counter top and pickled cabinets in the upstairs bathroom, but atleast I got rid of the berber carpet, green vinyl floors, and builder grade brass lighting and hardware!) For most people, it really comes down to picking either the yard size or the elementary school.

Sorry to write a book here :-)
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:58 PM
 
10,757 posts, read 8,822,379 times
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Much of what is described as "outdated" in the above posts has little to do with anything but decorating trendiness. Perhaps something to keep in mind when choosing a house...
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:30 PM
 
Location: Lexington Ky
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Personally I would go for a good elementary school. Private school tuition is steep! As usual Lexpert you are giving sound advice. Not my favorite part of town but lots of folks seem to like it.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:57 PM
 
Location: Todds Rd. area
969 posts, read 2,480,477 times
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Thanks Lexingtongal. It wasn't my favorite part of town until I moved out here. It's really the convenience that gets you. I can see how it would not be appealing at all to some.

CraigCreek, you are totally correct about "Outdated". I only mention it because it is a contributing factor in determining value. Many people are really into the trendy finishes. I personally try to go for something more timeless when I replace old stuff since I know it all has a short shelf life. You don't have to worry about that with an old house. You can redo them according to the period they were built. It can look like it is stuck in time and everybody repects that, while nobody is ready to relive the mauve toilets, gold faucets and pickled cabinets of 1991!!
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