Want to Live Where Virginia’s Presidents Lived? Check Out Market Trends Where Our Commanders in Chief Called “Home.”
February 17, 2022
Did you know that eight U.S. Presidents were from Virginia? Virginia is the birthplace of more Presidents than any other state, and many of their homes and estates across the commonwealth are open to the public. Of course, you can’t buy one of these properties, but you can shop for a home in one of these presidential neighborhoods! Here are the market conditions you can expect to find:
George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, is located along the Potomac River in Fairfax County. In 2021, there were more than 19,000 homes sold across Fairfax County. The median home price was about $616,000 last year, an increase of 6% over 2020 and nearly $150,000 higher than five years ago. Fun fact: George Washington owned and operated a commercial distillery on his Mount Vernon estate, producing almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799. (Current zoning likely wouldn’t allow such a large commercial operation on a residential lot…)
We all know that Thomas Jefferson was the founder of the University of Virginia, but did you know he was also an archaeologist, architect, wine aficionado and somewhat of a founding foodie? His home, Monticello, is located in Albemarle County. Homes in the county have been in demand, with a median sales price of $425,000 in 2021. At the end of the year, there was less than a month’s supply available in Albemarle County, making it one of the most competitive markets in the state.
James Monroe was Thomas Jefferson’s neighbor, with his Highland home located adjacent to Monticello in Albemarle County. But Monroe was born on the Northern Neck of Virginia, in Westmoreland County. Westmoreland County saw prices rise by more than 20% in 2021. The median sales price in the county was $270,000 last year. There were just 68 active listings in Westmoreland County at the end of 2021, which is down 41% from a year earlier.
Montpelier in Orange County was James Madison’s Virginia home, which he inherited from his father. Madison expanded the estate by adding a wing onto either side of the property. (He likely didn’t need to raise the ceilings; Madison was the shortest of all the presidents, standing only 5’4”.) Home prices have been rising very quickly in Orange County. The median home price in 2021 was $333,325, up more than 18% over 2020. Despite the fast-rising prices, homes are snatched up very quickly in Orange County, with properties selling in under a month, on average, in 2021.
Zachary Taylor’s childhood home, Montebello, is also located in Orange County. Perhaps among the most frugal presidents, the Whig Party nominated him to be president without his knowledge, sending him notification without paying for postage. He refused to pay the postage and did not find out about the nomination for weeks. (I wonder where this frugal president would look for a home in today’s market?)
Two former U.S. presidents had homes in Charles City County. Berkeley Plantation is the birthplace of William Henry Harrison (and is also the ancestral home of his grandson Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president, who was born in Ohio). Harrison had the longest presidential inauguration speech in history—and the shortest presidential term. John Tyler was born in Charles City County and lived at Sherwood Forest Planation between 1842 until his death in 1862. Tyler has a strong connection to the region. He was a friend and college roommate of Thomas Jefferson at the College of William and Mary and later served as its Chancellor. There were just 44 home sales in Charles City County in 2021. The median sales price was $243,000, up 13% from a year earlier. Looking to buy a home in Charles City County? There is just 1.4 months of supply, which is down dramatically from a year ago.
The most recent Virginia-born president was Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president, who was born in Staunton at a home that is now the site of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD, which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. If you want to live in the same community as the president who wanted to “make the world safe for democracy,” you will need about $214,000 to purchase the typical home. Home prices in Staunton were up 13% between 2020 and 2021. There were more than 530 home sales in the city in 2021 and, on average, homes sold for above list price over the past year.
If you’re looking for more information about local housing markets across Virginia, be sure to check out our monthly home sales reports and local housing market data.
Click here to send any comments or questions about this piece to Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD.
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