Low Maintenance. Age in Place. First Floor Masters. Less to Heat and Cool. Lock and Leave. Condos. Age Restricted. A Place with a View.
All of these options can be lumped into the overall category of ‘Downsizing’.
As the population ages (or just decides to live differently than the generation before), many are electing to live in smaller spaces designed for more specific purposes. While it is premature to announce the demise of the 3,000 SF colonial on a cul-de-sac, it is time to acknowledge that the market is demanding more and more diversity in the housing supply to better address specific needs in the housing life cycle.
The First Floor Master Bedroom
As we age, we begin to view stairs differently.
In our 20’s, stairs made little difference. Sometimes we even bounded up them two at time.
In our 30’s, we maybe think about the stairs more when lugging the exhausted 5 year old up to bed or struggle with the sprained ankle from the rec league basketball game.
By our 40’s, we find the words ‘knee’ and ‘hip’ and ‘replacement’ becoming a part of the conversation more and more.
By our 50’s, it can feel as if the 10 steps it used to take to go from the first floor to the second has become 20…
The problem of stairs can be solved by having either a first floor master or a first floor bedroom which can function as a master bedroom for a period of time. While ranch (or rambler) styled homes inherently have everything on the first floor, some multi-story offer the ability to live on the first level as well.
Purchasing a new home with a first floor master is typically more expensive as building costs for a home with more space on the first floor is more expensive. The larger the home’s footprint (foundation), the more it costs to build. Having a first floor master suite means a larger foundation and thus greater expense during construction. Generally speaking, this greater expense will hold up during resale, but often it is slightly less expensive to purchase a resale home with a first floor master than to build one.
Here is a list of homes with first floor master bedrooms:
New Homes with First Floor Master Bedrooms
Resale Homes with First Floor Master Bedrooms
For many, spending an hour every Saturday morning pushing a mower around the 1/2 acre of grass was part exercise, part escape and part pride. Even the semi-annual trip up and down the ladder to clean the gutters or paint the soffit reminded us the value of a hard days work. But at some point, the thought of lounging on the deck overlooking the Chesapeake Bay or James River trumped the feeling of accomplishment of a beautiful self-maintained home on a self-groomed yard. Enter the ‘low maintenance’ home.
Beginning in the early 1980’s, the trend towards large planned suburban communities in Richmond first emerged and with it, developers introducing sections within their communities targeting different segments of the market. Today, almost all new planned communities dedicate some sections to the ‘Low Maintenance’ segment and offer homes with a dues structure that included maintaining all of the exterior (both of the structure and the yard) so its owners are free to spend their time NOT doing maintenance.
Low Maintenance Homes Around Richmond, VA
Low Maintenance Homes In and Around Richmond, VA
(For a complete breakdown of Richmond’s Condo market, check out our Ultimate Guide to Richmond VA Condos)
In 2000, Richmond’s landscape was largely without condos.
With a few notable exceptions, the housing market was comprised almost exclusively of single family homes, town homes and the row homes of the older urban neighborhoods. Even within the urban neighborhoods, condos were few and far between. Properties such as The Tuckahoe, 5100 Monument, Hathaway Towers, The Warsaw, Tuscan Villas and the Prestwould formed Richmond’s condo market. These properties, often times a century old with a high degree of variance in renovation between individual units, were the only choices for buyers looking at condo living. By the mid-2000’s, this marketplace was in the midst of fundamental change.
By the time the crash of 2008 ended all development (both suburban and urban), Richmond’s inventory of condos increased from less than 50 on the market at any given time to well over 500. New projects were being developed at an astonishing clip in shapes, sizes and aesthetics previously unseen in what had always been an architecturally conservative marketplace. Additionally, new condo projects were being developed in neighborhoods ignored by the Richmond buyers for decades. The impact of the urban renewal was powerful and it breathed life back into the neighborhoods of Jackson Ward, Manchester, Carver and Church Hill.
Along with a prevalence of new condo product in the Richmond marketplace came a learning curve, especially as it relates to both condo mortgage finance and condo association management. Since Richmond is still in the process of learning how condos differ (as compared to markets where condos are more prevalent such as Washington DC or other larger urban markets), broad knowledge of the issues surrounding condo lending and management are concentrated in a small set of lenders and brokers. Choose your team wisely.
Here’s a list of our most popular condo searches:
Searches for Condos By # of Bedrooms
Searches for Condos By Price
Searches for Larger Condo Projects
- Vistas on the James (High Rise along the River in Shockoe)
- Riverside on the James (Mid Rise along the River Downtown)
- Rocketts Landing (4 different Mid Rise buildings + several town home projects)
- Ginter Place (historic conversion to large luxury units in Ginter Park)
- Lock Lane (apartment conversion in the classic Libbie/Grove corridor)
And if you’d like to do more research on individual condo projects, check out our condo page here.
A Place with a View
In somewhat of a bit if irony, despite having the nickname of the ‘River City,’ Richmond offers homeowners few views of the James River from its residential homes…and even less direct access. With some notable exceptions (Riverside Drive, Rocketts Landing, The Vistas on the James, Riverside on the James and some of the neighborhoods along Cherokee Road and Old Gun Road), Richmond’s stock of housing is largely disconnected from the River.
Richmond was founded as a port along the James River at a point where the waterway became unnavigable. The warehouses of Shockoe, Tobacco Row and Manchester were largely built to accommodate storage for the off-loaded goods by the ships of the era. From the warehouses, the goods were moved inland via rail which ran along the river’s pathway. It is these railways (and the canal system) which still separate much of Richmond’s most prime real estate from direct access to the River.
To further deprive Richmonders of the right to live on water, the Metro area is essentially without any large lake upon which residents are able to live a ‘water life.’ Lake Chesdin (on the Chesterfield County/Dinwiddie County border) and Lake Anna (Louisa County) are probably the closest to Metro Richmond but still anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes in travel time. Some smaller rivers, mostly to the north and east of town provide some options, but in reality, even these Rivers are small and do not afford many of the benefit of larger bodies of water.
That said, the opportunity for a Richmonder to enjoy some of the best waterfront lifestyles on the entire East Coast is nearby. The Chesapeake Bay and the rivers which feed it (York, Rappahannock, Piankatank and Potomack) can be accessed easily within less than a 90 minute drive. Many Richmonders have found that a weekend getaway at the River (or Bay) is a great way to live.
However, within Richmond, here is a list of properties which allow you to touch, see or engage the waterways of Richmond in some way:
Waterfront Homes In and Around Richmond, VA
- City of Richmond
- Chesterfield County
- Goochland County
- Hanover County
- Henrico County
- New Kent County
- Powhatan County
Age Restricted (55+ Communities)
For some, living in a like-minded neighborhood (as it relates to age and services) is important. For those, an age-restricted community could be the answer.
‘Age Restricted’ really means two things. On one hand, an ‘age restricted’ community is a legal entity with a very specific set of rules. One the other hand, the term ‘age restricted’ implies more of a marketing concept. Both are accurate.
Legally (and as one would assume), an age restricted community is one where ownership of any property within the community is restricted to people who have reached a certain minimum age. Most of the age restricted communities begin at the age of 55. Often, additional legal restrictions exist which limit the ability for someone who is less than the minimum age reside in the property, even if the cohabitant in a sibling or child.
From a marketing perspective, age restricted communities offer designs and amenities which one would expect to find in a community targeting the 55+ crowd. First floor bedrooms, wider hallways and handicap friendly designs, no maintenance exteriors and other features appealing to someone of more advanced age can almost always be found communities with an age minimum.
It should be noted that some communities also begin to introduce elements of assisted living by offering medical services as a part of the monthly fee. Please note that if the community is structured with condominium ownership, elements of assisted living as a part of the condo bylaws can impact the mortgage finance side.
Here is a list of properties in age restricted communities: