- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

The Washington housing market has expanded to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia where buyers can enjoy scenic mountain vistas. Berkeley and Jefferson counties are adjacent to the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan area, making both ideal locations for commuters looking for a less harried lifestyle and lower cost of living.

Whether it’s whitewater rafting, horse racing or historic towns to stroll through, the Eastern Panhandle area seems to have a little something everyone can take delight in.

Berkeley is the second oldest county in West Virginia and is fast becoming the second most populated in the state. In 2007, according to the Census Bureau, there were close to 100,000 people living in Berkeley, up from 75,000 in 2000.

While there are many unincorporated communities in the county, the city of Martinsburg and town of Hedgesville are the only incorporated areas. Martinsburg, the county seat, is located along the old Cumberland Trail, which was a major route to points west during the 1700s and 1800s.

Berkeley County has more than 3,000 properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the Sleepy Creek hunting and fishing preserve in Martinsburg year-round. The 28,000-acre facility features miles of scenic trails for hiking and mounting biking.

The county and state began an aggressive campaign in recent years to attract new businesses to the area and support existing firms, according to the Berkeley County Development Authority, which touts the county’s strategic location and easy access to major transportation facilities.

National and international companies such as General Motors Corp., Quebecor Printing Inc., Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corp. and Ecolab Inc. have operations in the county.

David Hartley, executive director of the Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association Inc., says buyers are attracted to the area for a variety of reasons, including quality-of-life issues such as low crime, recreational opportunities and good schools.

“Affordability is also a big factor in housing purchases in our market. You can get more house for your dollar in West Virginia,” Mr. Hartley says.

New-home communities with amenities that include recreational facilities, open space and a proximity to major highways for commuters are all popular with buyers, Mr. Hartley says. While the size of homes purchased is down somewhat, he says the fastest-selling market segment in the area is homes priced at less than $300,000.

The Gallery is one of the newer communities in Berkeley County that is offering buyers a variety of town homes and single-family homes from which to choose. This pastoral setting is also the first planned community in the county, and residents can take advantage of a community center, tennis courts and swimming pool.

K. Hovnanian Homes is constructing one-car garage town homes at the Gallery Towns that come with three different floor plans. Buyers can choose to personalize their three-level town home by adding to the recreation room, opting for the two- or three-story morning room or adding a deck. Prices start at $161,900, and the homes come with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and are about 1,500 square feet.

Single-family homes by K. Hovnanian at the Gallery Towns are priced from $219,990 to $259,990. The three-bedroom Statesman model has 2,009 square feet and features a combined living and dining room. A morning room can be added to the back of the kitchen. The Revere has the largest floor plan with four bedrooms and 3,090 square feet. In addition to the formal living and dining rooms, the home has a center-island gourmet kitchen and second-level loft. For information, call 304/260-0201 for the town homes or 304/262-0150 for the single-family homes or visit www.khov.com.

Richmond American Homes Inc. is also building single-family homes in this community, priced from the high $200s. Its seven models feature four or five bedrooms. The four-bedroom Madison has 2,324 square feet and starts at $269,990, while the five-bedroom Princeton II model has 2,610 square feet and a base price of $278,990. The Princeton II also comes with a library and an open staircase to the lower level. For information, call 304/263-1258 or visit www.richmondamerican.com.

Toll Bros. Inc. has town homes, carriage-style attached homes and single-family homes in the community of Martinsburg Station. The neighborhood recently opened a new community center with a swimming pool, tennis courts, tot lot and fishing lake with a pier and gazebo. There are several home designs featuring first-floor master suites.

The spacious 20-foot-wide town homes start at $169,995 and come with three bedrooms and one-car garages. Two models are offered. Three floor plans of carriage-style homes are offered, starting at $194,995. These attached homes have between 2,799 and 2,968 square feet. The Clyburne model has a first-floor master suite, two-story family room open to the kitchen and a loft overlook from upstairs. The single-family homes have three or four bedrooms with base prices ranging from $299,995 to $339,995.

Martinsburg Station also features executive-style homes by Toll Bros. priced from $344,995 to $396,995. The Bromley floor plan is the most spacious with 3,600 square feet, a first-floor study and an open two-story family room. For information, call 304/262-9034 for the town homes or 304/262-9051 for the single-family homes or visit www.tollbrothers.com.

Ryan Homes is building luxury town homes at Brookfield Towns in Falling Waters. These three-level homes offer high-speed wiring, 9-foot ceilings on the main level and recessed lighting. Options include an eat-in kitchen, a morning room and a master suite sitting area. Prices start in the $ 130,000s. For information, call 304/274-5096 or visit www.ryanhomes.com.

Gemcraft Homes is building homes at Apple Knolls Estates in Martinsburg. Starting in the low $200s, there are eight floor plans from which to choose. The Danville model is in the mid-range with a base price in the $260,000s. This four-bedroom plan has two-zone heating and air conditioning, a library and first-floor laundry room. Each of the homes includes a two-car garage, 9-foot first-floor ceilings and a deluxe master bath with a garden tub. For information, call 304/267-8382 or visit www.gemcrafthomes.com.

Drees Homes Co. is giving buyers a choice by building homes with three to five bedrooms at the Village at Washington Trail in Kearneysville. There are 10 floor plans from which to choose, with pricing from $219,990 to $309,200. The Somerset II, priced from $304,900, has a first-floor study, huge walk-in closet and four bedrooms. Options include a 2-foot extension to the back of the home, a fireplace and bay windows on three sides. For information, call 304/885-4248 or visit www.dreeshomes.com.

Dan Ryan Builders Inc. is offering town homes from the low $100,000s at Manor Park. The two floor plans both have 1,695 square feet of living space with three bedrooms. The Cornell is priced from $131,000 and features a living room, separate dining room with columns and kitchen, while the York starts at $125,900 and comes with a spacious living room and country kitchen on the main level.

The builder also has 3,000-square-foot homes in Greensburg Estates. The Harvard model is priced from $309,900 and has five elevations, including one with a full, covered front porch. The floor plan features a luxury master suite and a large main-level laundry room. For information, call 304/262-4160 for the Manor Park homes, 304/219-3353 for the Greensburg Estates homes or visit www.danryanbuilders.com.

Jefferson County

Jefferson County was formed from Berkeley County in 1801 and was named after Thomas Jefferson. Both counties are situated on the Potomac River east of the mountains.

Visitors frequent Charles Town, the historic county seat and home of Charles Town Races and Slots. The Inn at Charles Town opened this year.

The county is also popular for Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where visitors can step into the past. Located where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, folks can stroll the scenic streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike the trails and battlefields.

Jefferson County is also home to Shepherdstown, which has the distinction of being the oldest town in West Virginia. The town boasts arts, dining, shopping and annual festivals. Shepherd University, a liberal arts institution, is in the town.

“Our cost of living is lower than the surrounding area, and we are an hour away from Washington, D.C. and Virginia, where people can live here and drive to work,” says Heather Morgan, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

She says new businesses are primarily coming into shopping centers in the Charles Town and Ranson areas. Potomac Towne Center opened in 2006 in Ranson, and phase two of the project, now under construction, will include a 12-screen Frank Theatres movie complex, according to the county’s economic development authority.

Ryan Homes is building single-family homes in Huntfield in historic Charles Town. This master-planned community features amenities centered around the Huntfield Club and Pool complex. Paying homage to a bygone era, the charming neighborhood is filled with homes that have front porches and white picket fences. Four models are available, with prices ranging from the upper $230,000s to nearly $300,000.

The Melville, priced from the $230,000s, is a neotraditional two-story Colonial with a center-hall floor plan. Options include a covered front porch, a first-floor study in lieu of the living room and a rear morning room.

The Michener, the largest model, is priced from the $290,000s. As guests enter the foyer, they are treated to an unobstructed view of the bright family room and slightly curved, light-filled staircase. An upgraded kitchen and a morning room can be added. For information, call 304/724-2363 or visit www.ryanhomes.com.

Drees Homes has single-family houses priced from $258,300 to $304,300 at Shenandoah Springs in Ranson. The Bradford, the largest floor plan with about 2,287 square feet, has a main-level owner’s suite that occupies one wing of the home. The home has an open dining room, family room and kitchen for easy socializing with family and friends. There are three more bedrooms on the second floor, or buyers can add a large bonus room in lieu of open space that overlooks the main level. For information, call 304/596-0593 or visit www.dreeshomes.com.

Beazer Homes Corp. is building town homes and single-family homes in the neighborhood of Colonial Hills, a cozy enclave of houses just minutes from historic Shepherdstown. Surrounded by trees and mountain views, the 2,100-square-foot town homes start at $199,990 and feature three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, a one-car garage and an open floor plan.

Beazer’s Medallion Series of single-family home plans starts in the upper $200,000s. Six one-third-acre sites remain. The Calvert model features a dramatic two-story foyer and master suite with a sitting room. Optional features include a family room bump-out and rear sunroom. This community is across from Morgan’s Grove Park. For information, call 304/876-1866 for the Medallion Series or visit www.beazerhomes.com.

Arcadia Homes Inc. is building at Craighill Estates, a new community of 44 single-family houses adjacent to Happy Retreat, the home of George Washington’s brother, Charles Washington, the founder of Charles Town. The homes start in the $370,000s and are on half-acre to 1-acre sites.

In addition to front porches and tree-lined walking trails, the homes come with hardwood foyers, gas fireplaces in the family room and 9-foot ceilings. The Windham model features multiple staircases, an oversized family room and two-tiered master suite with a private sitting room. For information, call 703/851-2961 or visit www.arcadiabuilding.com.

D.R. Horton Inc. is building town homes in Berkeley Ridge priced from $134,990 and $137,990. Both floor plans have 1,400 square feet of living space with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. The only difference between the two is that one model has a garage. For information, call 304/274-2638 or visit www.drhorton.com.

Richmond American Homes has single-family homes at Demory Farm in Charles Town. These homes have three to five bedrooms and start in the high $200,000s. The Dayton II model, with 2,473 square feet, has four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. The spacious grand foyer is standard, but buyers can choose to add features such as stately columns to separate the formal rooms and can add a media room on the lower level. For information, call 304/264-0591 or visit www.richmondamerican.com.

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