York County VA
The allure of an acre, the convenient location and the freedom to build a house that suited their needs drew Sean and Leslie Callender to Taylor Farms in York County.
The Callenders, who lived in Kiln Creek, were looking for a home that would accommodate them, their two children and Leslie’s parents.
They considered buying a quarter-acre in another nearby development, then stumbled upon Taylor Farms.
“Here, it’s basically the same amount of money for an acre,” Sean Callender said. “It was kind of a no-brainer.”
The large lot size is probably the biggest selling point for Taylor Farms.
The region’s residential construction market has slowed considerably since the boom a few years ago. The number of building permits issued in Hampton Roads is down 31.8 percent from last year and down 58.6 percent from the 2003 peak, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The housing market has also cooled, with sales down 17.9 percent between 2007 and 2008.
But on a recent afternoon, construction and landscaping companies worked on properties throughout the Taylor Farms neighborhood.
The new community, which was the site of the 2008 Parade of Homes, is “not totally insulated” from the economic slowdown that taken root, but prospective buyers do come by for every open house held in Taylor Farms.
Taylor Farms started selling lots in 2005 on what used to be 72 acres of farmland. Homes started going up in 2007.
Thirty-five of the 54 lots had been sold by the time the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association approached Taylor Farms’ owners about using it as a Parade of Homes site, and more than 13,000 people turned out for the showcase
of upscale homes.
Now, there are only 10 home sites left, building lots start at $195,000.
In addition to the spacious lots, the site also has a great location, Whittaker said. It’s close to three Peninsula hospitals — which is helpful for doctors who must get to a hospital in a hurry for emergencies, he said.
Another benefit is that the houses are custom built. Buyers tell the builders what they’re looking for, and the builders draw up plans to meet their needs, Whittaker said.
And unlike other new homes, there’s no requirement to build right away. The lots are mostly sold to the buyer, not to builders, and the buyers are given a window to start building, Whittaker said.
Doctors, a fireman-pharmacist couple, a real estate agent, school employees and NASA employees all call Taylor Farms home, he said.
“It’s a pretty eclectic community,” he said. “We have toddlers in there, and we have empty nesters.”
Phyllis Fleming and her husband moved into their house in July. As a military family, the Flemings moved all over until settling down in the Hampton Roads area in 1997.
Now they’re empty nesters. But instead of scaling back, they’re moving up.
“Being a military wife, you travel around and you live in all these different kinds of houses. You pick from all of them. You have your mental dream house from all of them,” Fleming said. “That’s what this house is like. This is, I guess, our dream house.”
She said it was a “phenomenal find” to get a 1-acre lot.
“If we were going to move up a house, we wanted some space around it. We didn’t want to live right up next to our neighbors where you can hear your neighbors through your wall.”
The Flemings’ house is 3,600 square feet — more than 4,500 square feet if you count the unfinished attic — and features a formal foyer, a “man cave” over the garage, an office for Fleming, a walk-through closet that opens into the laundry room and a walk-through pantry.
Fleming said they were able to build because they saved up for this house and have weathered economic downturns before.
For the Callenders, Taylor Farms was a chance to get the kind of house the family needed. They looked around at existing homes but couldn’t find a house to fit their needs.
Sean Callender’s father uses an electric cart. When he visited, he stayed in a hotel room because their old house wasn’t accessible. If they built, they could make the house accessible for Sean’s parents and allow Leslie’s parents to move in.
So they sold their Kiln Creek home and bought here, trading up from a 2,100-square-foot home to 3,700 square feet.
“We plan to stay here for a really long time,” said Sean Callender, who works as the secondary science supervisor for Newport News public schools. “You look at the Parade of Homes, and you sell all the bells and whistles. We made a functional house. Since I’m in public schools, we’re not very wealthy.”
But they did plan ahead, working as teachers and coaches when they first got married, living off only one salary and saving the rest, they said.
“It’s not over the top,” he said. “This is what we want, and this is what we need.”
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