What are People Looking for in a Neighborhood? Community


One of the most common things identified by my buyer clients that they are seeking is “a sense of community.” Over the years I’ve asked for Crozetians to describe their neighborhoods, once in 2011 and again in 2013; Western Ridge frequently comes up as a neighborhood with a tremendous community.

Disclosure: I’m a real estate agent; I represent buyers and sellers … in this instance, I’m representing sellers. And I’m holding an open house on Sunday, 19 October .

My clients in Western Ridge sent me one of their neighborhood emails for their neighborhood’s Fall Festival, including a costume parade, activities and games, and a magician to close out the event.

I’m not going to post the whole email here, as it has neighbors’ names, and is a decidedly neighborhood event. But … if you’d like to see it in its entirety, I’m holding an open house on Sunday from 1-3 on Lake Tree Lane in Western Ridge. A lot of people in Crozet know that Western Ridge is a great neighborhood with a slew of community events. I don’t live there, but I have several clients and friends in the neighborhood who echo that sentiment. I asked my clients to tell me a bit more about a couple of their neighborhood events:

It’s one of several family events we hold every year.

Early November brings our Oktoberfest meant for adults-complete with a band, local brews, and German fare!

In late November “Western Ridge Chili Cook Off” brings competitive foodies out with their best chili and table displays, while the rest of us bring sides and eat and drink beer, wine, sodas. Chili Fest is for kids and adults. Western Ridge put in a large stone fire pit two years ago and is a popular spot during these events to sit and enjoy the fire or make S’Mores.?

Last month in my monthly note, I wrote about Community:

And we proceeded to have a great conversation for the next hour. (I attribute part of this because I chose to stand rather than sit for the hour). Quite a few folks answered my question, “How do you define/assess community?” One of my favorites was this:

Not sure, but I think it has something to do with a feeling of welcomeness and inclusion to participate in the local goings-on, socially, politically, and philanthropically. Some days, that just boils down to seeing folks you know at the city market.

I think that’s awesome.

A lot of my buyer clients want to know how engaged a neighborhood is, how connected the neighbors are, in large part because they want to be part of something. One of the more common ways is to try to get a copy of the homeowners association meeting minutes and see what they’re discussing.

One of my favorite stories/results of this type of investigation was years ago when my buyers read through a certain neighborhood’s meeting minutes and discovered that a homeowner complained at a meeting that she had not been invited to a party at one of her neighbors’ houses when others had been. My clients didn’t buy in that neighborhood, in large part not because the lady had not been invited to a party, but because they spent time at an HOA meeting discussing it!

Neighborhood Facebook and Nextdoor groups are becoming the new records of neighborhoods. I think it’s entirely reasonable to request – maybe even as part of the offer – the previous three or six months of discussions. In addition to walking through the neighborhood with a kid or a dog, this could be the best way to learn in an unvarnished way about a neighborhood. What do you think? What if the moderator/administrator says no? Would allowing an outsider be a violation of the intrinsic privacy (there’s no privacy on the internet!) of the group/neighborhood?

If you’re even more curious about the Western Ridge neighborhood, there’s a video of the neighborhood after the break.

… I think I might do more of these such posts. Interested?

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