Celebrate the Holidays In Charlottesville

In my mind the holiday season in Charlottesville hits full steam as a hush comes over the town as students take final exams and return home for a well-deserved winter break. Meanwhile magical events are unfolding all over town.

Here are a few ways to celebrate the season this December.

Tree home

Pick Your Own Tree
For many this is a family tradition. Luckily we have several fantastic options for you to select the perfect tree for your holiday celebration.

You will find Pre Cut and Living Christmas Trees at AM Fog.
9264 Critzer Shop Road, Afton, VA 22920. Phone: (540) 456-7100.

Green Meadows Farm is so idyllic that I actually know someone who proposed here! You’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, hot cocoa, and plenty of Christmas cheer. More info at www.greenemeadowsfarm.com

Xmas 5Enjoy a Christmas Light Tour
The Gingerbread Express Light Show is a great way to see the best neighborhood light displays throughout Charlottesville. Tours are the 12th, 13th, 19th, and 30th at 6, 7, and 8 p.m.  Guests will meet with Mrs. Claus prior to the tour at the Virginia Discovery Museum and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies.  Tickets are $5 on sale now at the DBAC office located at 108 5th St. NE or by phone at (434) 295-9073. Children 2 and under sitting in the lap of a ticket holder are free. This is too fun!

NutcrackerSee a Show!
Black Friars Playhouse is putting on A Christmas Carol. It doesn’t get much more classic than this Charles Dickens tale. More information here.

Charlottesville Ballet is performing The Nutcracker Suite for your enjoyment on the 20th and 21st. Get ticket information for this timeless ballet here.


Enjoy a Holiday Tour of an Historic Landmark
Montpelier offers many holiday events including a candlelight tour. This event is just filled with Christmasey goodness. The schedule of events for the 13th includes a visit with Santa Claus, Candlelight tour with James and Dolley Madison, and several performances including harp, a capella, and vocal ensemble. Get your tickets here.

See how Jefferson celebrated the holidays with Monticello’s holiday evening tours. This tour offers a rare glimpse at the historic home after dark and includes a tour of the dome room. Get your tickets before it sells out!

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.46.32 AMAttend a Holiday Concert
Charlottesville Municipal Band will play December 14th 3:30-5:00 at Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center. Admission is free with a donation of non perishable food item.

The Virginia Glee Club’s Annual Christmas Concert is the 13th at First Presbyterian Church. More information here.


This is just a small collection of all of the fun happening in Charlottesville this season. Continue to explore other events through local publications such as Charlottesville Family, Cville Weekly, and DBAC.

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Sydney Tenhundfeld



A Charlottesville Thanksgiving

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun in our house and I simply can’t wait to gather around a table filled with delicious local food and drink. We are so lucky to live in an area with plentiful options to fill your thanksgiving table. Here are a few spots I’ll be visiting soon to stock up.

Tgiving 1

The Turkey
There are several options for finding the perfect centerpiece for your meal. I just called to reserve mine from The Organic Butcher for pick up on Tuesday. They are getting them in fresh so you don’t have to worry about thawing. At about 3.50/lb for the all natural and 4.50/lb for the certified organic I decided to spring for the organic but I don’t think you could go wrong either way.

Tgiving 2

The dish with the most variability from table to table has got to be dressing/stuffing. In my family, it is only stuffing if cooked in the bird and dressing is the same mix baked separately in a dish. So far I’ve managed to make dressing from scratch each year but if you are looking for a helping hand with the biscuits, cornbread, or breadcrumbs you couldn’t find a better place than BreadWorks Bakery and Deli. If you aren’t familiar with their mission here’s a quote from the website, “owned and operated by WorkSource Enterprises which has provided job training and employment to persons with disabilities since 1967.” Can’t beat good food for a good cause.

Tgiving 3

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the downtown farmers market. I’ll be stocking up on kale, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, squash and all of my other produce needs this Saturday.

Tgiving 5

I know some families with as many pies as there are people at their thanksgiving table. While not a fanatic, I have to say it would not be thanksgiving without at least one pie. This year Family Ties and Pies’ apple crumb will be on our table. You can pre order or pick up one of their pies while you are at the farmer’s market.

Tgiving 6

You can find me in either the downtown or uptown location of Market Street Wine Shop at least once a week between all of their incredible free tastings. On Saturday I chatted with Thad and came up with a full wine list for the evening. Their staff is always so helpful and knowledgeable they will be able to help you pick out the perfect cider, wine, or beer for your holiday get together.

Tgiving 4

Among many other things, I am truly thankful for living in a town with a bounty of local farmers and smaller specialty shops that provide such high quality goods. This holiday season I will choose to show my gratitude for what this lovely town has given me by giving back one shopping trip at a time. Happy Thanksgiving!

 All kitchen photos shown are in homes currently available for sale. Visit www.loringwoodriff.com for more information.

sydney for blogSydney Tenhundfeld

6 Places to Enjoy the View in Charlottesville

Central Virginia is famous for its beautiful leaf change in the fall. Combine that with gorgeous panoramic mountain views and the scenery is simply stunning. Autumn will be over before you know it so now is the time to get out and enjoy the view at any of these great Charlottesville locations.


Carter’s Mountain
Open daily from 9-5 Carter’s Mountain is the perfect place for some family fun. There is no better place to enjoy some hot apple cider, go apple picking, find the perfect pumpkin, or even taste some wine all while enjoying the view. This is where my family goes every year for our annual photos as it has great backdrops and afterwards we get to enjoy all of the tasty treats.

BM LogoBlue Mountain Brewery
Blue Mountain is much more than a brewery with its beautiful restaurant and great menu. If beer is your thing they certainly won’t disappoint with several solid flagship brews and an ever-changing seasonal menu mixing it up. The food is always great as well. I still dream about the pulled pork, peach, and goat cheese pizza they had a few summers ago. My gluten free friends love coming here too with their accommodating menu and knowledgeable staff.


Thomas Jefferson chose a plum spot for his personal estate. Go for a tour, check out one of their many events, or enjoy the view as a volunteer. They will even host private events for your guests to enjoy the breath taking scenery.

Pippin Hill
pippin-hill-logoOne of central Virginia’s premier vineyards offers some of the most beautiful views in Charlottesville. The lovely setting makes it one of the top wedding venues on the east coast and a must see for any wine enthusiast. Runner up vineyards with great views include King Family, Grace Estate, and Afton Mountain.


Humpback Rock
One of my personal favorites, this hiking trail offers the best views of the area. It may be quite steep but the climb to the top is worth it. Pack a picnic and perch somewhere sunny on the rock outcrop to rest before heading back down.

Your Own Front Porch
While each of these venues are lovely, there really is nothing like enjoying the view out your own front door. Check out these properties that offer magnificent views.

View Photo Frays Ridge

This is a front porch where anyone could spend a Sunday afternoon taking in the view.

View Photo Villa D

This Mediterranean inspired home offers the quintessential mountain view of your dreams.

View Photo Moriah

River and creek view from the master of Moriah.

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Sydney Tenhundfeld

Coming Home

LAWn at uva

Anyone who knows me at all can tell you that I loved my time at UVa more than any person should. I jumped at as many opportunities as I could joining a sorority, internships, being an Orientation Leader, working in labs, studying abroad, volunteering with Madison House, you name it. Though I moved to Charlottesville in high school, it was in my time at UVa that my love for this town really grew and I have appreciated it even more since I graduated.

Since it was just Homecomings Weekend I thought it only appropriate to have some of my fellow ‘Hoos at our firm share how they came to love Charlottesville. Here is what they had to say.

Sally Neill ’85
When I was at UVA I had a VW convertible.  No matter the weather, my friends and I always had the top down, even if we had to have the heat on.  I remember some of the most spectacular views on our “country drives”, and that is really what made me fall in love with Charlottesville.  I got to know every inch of Albemarle County all the way up to Skyline Drive, and to this day, one of my favorite things to do is take a “country drive” and enjoy the beauty of the area.  My husband, Peter and I, feel blessed to have had the opportunity to move back here and raise our children.


Loring Woodriff ’93
My father and brother preceded me as hometown Wahoos and I really had thought I was going to break the mold but after being away from the area and homesick during boarding school, no other college or University really had a chance. I REALLY fell for  the UVA/Charlottesville dynamic 2nd year, when I lived in a house on Lewis Mountain Road with 8 friends that I made 1st year. What could be better than walking to class, walking to football games, walking to boyfriend’s houses down the street… and making lifelong girlfriends all the while?


Helen Ascoli ’00
Having grown up in the Charlottesville area, going to UVA was a dream that many children around here do not get to enjoy as reality. As a student of UVA, I learned a whole new facet of Charlottesville. Meeting people from all walks of life, making lifelong friendships, and learning at a top notch school made the UVA experience one that I will be eternally grateful for. Since graduating, life has presented multiple opportunities to leave but my heart and soul are in this town. My hopes are that one day my children may also be able to call themselves UVA graduates, enjoying the dynamic this university offers to the great City of Charlottesville.


Elizabeth Matthews ’03
It is easy to fall in love with Charlottesville as a student- beautiful grounds, life long friends, and world-class professors.  My roots of seven generations in cville make it easy to call home. This beautiful part of Virginia enriched my love of all things outdoors, but in particular my love of skiing, which took me all over the world. Upon my return to Cville, I never imagined that I would be working side by side with one of the top Realtors in the community for over thirty years Punkie Feil, my Mom (who happens to be a double Hoo). We enjoy the rare privilege of being mother daughter business team.

My husband, also an alum, is thrilled that our daughter, 2 years old, has mastered ‘The Good Ole Song’ just in time for football season…Wahoo Wa!

Lindsay Milby ’85
Originally from Baltimore, my father fell in love with Charlottesville while playing lacrosse and studying at UVA in the early 60’s.  He was determined to make Charlottesville his home.  I was lucky enough to grow up here, attend UVA and raise my children in such a wonderful community.

1800 jefferson park

Tommy Brannock ’79
I remained in Charlottesville after graduating from UVA due to its incredible sense of community and philanthropy – folks like to give back here.  This is truly a wonderful locality in which to raise a family, and we are blessed to be grounded by The University and its offerings.  Central Virginia enables us to enjoy four seasons, natural beauty and history, sporting events, cultural diversity, and we are within three hours of just about everything.  Friends return to visit, and often comment about how fortunate I am to be a native and to be able to call Charlottesville home. I agree – I would not consider living anywhere else.

Bunny French ’89
My love of riding horses began at a very early age in Long Island New York. It was riding that brought me to the more open spaces of Virginia more than 30 years ago.  The University of Virginia was the perfect environment for me to pursue my studies while successfully competing on the A show circuit between Florida and New York. The ability to go between a culturally rich city and beautiful open countryside, make Charlottesville and “The University” a unbeatable combination!


Lisa Lyons ’00
I came from Colorado to play basketball for and attend school at UVA.  I had spent very little time on the east coast and was very excited for a new adventure.  I was touched by the welcoming sense of community both at the university and in Charlottesville.  I met so many fantastic professors and life-long friends as a student athlete, including my now husband.  After we had children we decided that Charlottesville would be a great place to call home and raise our family.  We moved back several years ago and have fallen in love with Charlottesville all over again.  While we remain avid UVA sports fans, we have also enjoyed branching outside the university and experiencing all things Charlottesville from the great wineries and breweries, the many great restaurants, the beauty of the outdoors, and of course the wonderful people.

Each person’s story is different but what we all have in common is a love of everything Charlottesville has to offer and an inability to find anywhere better to live. If you want your own piece of Charlottesville, you know who to contact.

Go Hoo’s!

sydney for blogSydney Tenhundfeld ’12

How to Be a Good Neighbor

These days it is much too easy to disconnect and disengage. We’ve all heard the adage that good fences make good neighbors but what if a tree falls on your property while you are out of town or your dog gets out while you are at work? There are many reasons why it is helpful to have a good relationship with your neighbors but cultivating those relationships is a dying art form.

Here are a few suggestions on how to be a good neighbor.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 1

1. Be Observant of Your Neighbors’ Lifestyles
Are they up all night with friends over on weekends or do they wake early every morning and go for a jog? Being cognizant of the routine of those around you can help you keep from infringing on the rhythm of their everyday.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 2

2. Minimize and Inform
If you know your neighbor values their quiet Sundays maybe consider having that garage sale on Saturday or at least let them know when you’ll be having it so they can plan to be out of the house if they choose.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 3

3. Include your Neighbors When Appropriate
Speaking of a garage sale, why not ask if they want to combine efforts and garner more interest?! You could split the cost of shared improvements like a fence or a fire hydrant. If you want to have your yard sprayed to prevent insects it would be good to see if your neighbors want to get in on it too because you might get a cheaper rate and it means more bug free enjoyment of your yard too.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 4

4. Look Out for Each Other
If you give your neighbor a call to let them know they left the light on in their car they will be much more willing to return the favor. Similarly if they ask you to bring the mail in or cat sit while they are out of town then you have a convenient backup for when you plan your next trip. Neighbors are the first to know when something happens in your neighborhood so it is good to keep in touch so you stay in the loop.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 5

5. Don’t Be THAT Neighbor
Pick up after your pet, bring your trashcans in off the road, and keep your yard mowed. No one wants to be the eye sore in the community.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 6

6. Bring Back Letter Writing
Dropping off a nice card around the holidays or an introduction letter when you are new to the area can be a great ice breaker.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 7

7. Enhance your Community the Old Fashioned Way
Neighborhood events used to be common place but now it takes greater effort to coordinate schedules and make things happen. If you are feeling ambitious get some neighbors together and organize a block party. In a college town like Charlottesville a tailgate is the perfect way to get to know neighbors. Get creative and think of what works for your community.

Blog Photos - Neighbor 8

While it can be easy to quietly keep to yourself it may be worth while to get to know the people living next door. You never know when it might come in handy.


sydney for blogBy Sydney Tenhundfeld, REALTOR ®

Looking for a Home with some Virginia History?

One of the oldest historic homes in Albemarle County is now available for purchase.

Opening CaptionIn 1840 the home was sold to Richard Terrell by the widow of Martin Key. Terrell traded Windie Knowe with his son-in-law William W. Minor for the property Glen Echo. Minor made additions to the home and established a vineyard on the property.
LR Caption
Library Caption
Acres Caption
 KItchen Caption
To view this gorgeous property please have your agent contact Hunter Palmer.

Hunter Bio PhotoHunter Palmer
(434) 981-0533

Online Marketing of Your Home

Computer Plank

The National Association of Realtors and Google joined forces in a study that found 90% of homebuyers are searching for homes online.

With the overwhelming majority of buyers using the internet to find their next home it is crucial that you maintain a strong online presence when selling. Here are a few tips to get your home maximum exposure.


Get your home listed in the local MLS by hiring a Real Estate Agent
This is by far the most crucial part of getting your home in front of buyers and their agents. Nearly all of the online search engines buyers are using are being fed data from the local MLS. Without that exposure you are limiting your reach dramatically. You can use the property search on our website or visit http://www.mycaar.com to search local listings in Charlottesville and central Virginia.


Check search results
If you search your address on Google right now Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com are most likely to be your top three hits. Make sure all of the information is correct on these sites. You would be surprised how often basic facts like square footage, listing price, and whether or not the home is even for sale are wrong. If you do see something off, tell your real estate agent. An agent can actually claim a listing to request changes to the information and even offer comps to change the zestimate! Every buyer should know not to take listings on these sites at face value but often this is the most convenient app on their phone while they are out looking at homes.


Use social media to stay current
Part of your agent’s job is cultivating relationships to expand their network so you might as well let them use their connections through social media to market your home. There are several ways to keep your home in the forefront of the minds of buyers and their agents. Blog posts like this one can be used to feature your home and already have an established following. We use our Facebook page to highlight a new listing, promote an open house, or advertise a new improvement. Tweeting out open house reminders can double your traffic. Pinterest and Instagram provide platforms for you to showcase the best feature of your home or Youtube can be used to post virtual tours. These are just a start and there is always something new coming.

Whether you use one or all of these tactics it is clear that having an online presence is crucial getting your home sold.


sydney for blogBy Sydney Tenhundfeld, REALTOR ®



The Importance of Staging Your Home For Sale

While you may absolutely love every item in your home from your kids’ artwork on the fridge to your grandmother’s antique bed that dominates the guest bedroom, they may not help you sell your house. This is where effective staging can make all of the difference.

In a study by the Real Estate Staging Association it was found that staging a home reduced the days on market by 72%. The association arrived at this number after evaluating 63 homes that had been on the market for an average of 143 days. These homes were then staged and received offers within 40 days on average.

Compare that to 481 homes that were staged before listing which received offers in 23 days on average. That is huge! Each mortgage payment you don’t have to pay is money in your pocket.

Nearly every buyer views properties online before ever setting foot in a home. Thus the photographs in your listing are crucial in making a great first impression is so vital. Good staging and great photography can take a home from being one a buyer passes over online to a home the buyer has to see now!

The talented home stager Gail Hoerr at Redesign and photographer Abby Inman with VA Home Pics brought this listing to the next level.

Here are some before and after pictures to highlight a few of the main principles of staging and the importance of great photography.


While many talk about the three L’s of real estate (Location, location, location!) the three D’s of staging are definitely Declutter, Declutter, Declutter! This strategy is utilized at every step of this staging project.



It is important to every room feel spacious, airy, and well lit to allow the potential home buyers to see themselves living in the space. Dark cramped areas are overlooked, forgettable, and viewed as unusable space.




Depersonalization and decluttering go hand in hand. While decreasing the number of items is important so is decreasing the distractions. Buyers are there to view the house and its potential to fulfill their needs. Photos of a family vacation can make a viewer think about how they should take their kids to Paris rather than how this office is a great asset to the family member that works from home.




Part of envisioning your life in a house is thinking of how you go about your day to day activities. The ability to seamlessly go from cooking in the kitchen to eating at the table to reading a book with a cup of tea in your favorite chair before bed should be easily envisioned.


When choosing your real estate agent make sure they have the resources for staging and photography in order to garner your home with the most interest possible.

See more from Gail by visiting her website or blog!

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By Sydney Tenhundfeld, REALTOR ®



Thinking About a Renovation? There’s a Loan for That!

Renovation $$$Local Mortgage insider Tammy Wilt explains how you can quit putting off that renovation and get started with a loan.

The City of Charlottesville is comprised of eclectic neighborhoods in/near the Downtown Mall. If you want to purchase in this area, you may have noticed that the neighborhoods range from brand new subdivisions to some historic areas. What if you like the neighborhood, however, the home needs updating/repairs/energy efficient upgrades?

If you want to buy one of these homes and don’t have the money to make changes, there are loans that can help. For the majority of buyers the FHA renovation loan works well. This loan allows a down payment of as little as 3.5% of the purchase price + cost of renovation. For example, purchase price is $200,000 and the cost of renovations is $20,000, the down payment would be $220,000 x 3.5% = $7,700.


There are two types of FHA renovation loans (also known as 203K), the streamline and full consultant. The type and cost of renovations will determine which loan 203K product will work best. The drawback with FHA 203K is that it only allows financing for primary residences (either purchase or refinance). If you have more money to put down, or are purchasing a second home or investment property to renovate, you will need to use the HomeStyle program. The HomeStyle renovation program requires as little as 5% down payment for a primary residence purchase.

Since these products are lending on future value, the interest rate is going to be slightly higher than a regular conventional loan. Also, the closing costs will be higher as there may be needs for consultants, updated title work and inspections. Overall these loans will help you make the improvements you want sooner versus later.

Make sure you work with a lender who has experience with these types of loans as there are more nuances to these than traditional purchases.

Tammy WiltTammy Wilt
NMLS# 195702

Homebridge logo

The Neighborhood Series: Locust Grove and Woolen Mills

IMG_4916We return to the neighborhood series this week discussing neighborhoods east of downtown.

Location: Woolen Mills is just east of the downtown mall bordered by Meade Avenue to the west, Belmont to the south, and Locust Grove to the north.

History: In the mid to late 1800’s a community started to develop around the Woolen Mill which employed many of the nearby residents. Though the mill closed in the 1960’s the neighborhood remains, providing homes with a rural feel yet great proximity to downtown. The Locust Grove subdivision was developed in the 1890’s with another wave of homes built between 1940 and 1970.

ext_1Elementary School District: Burnley – Moran

Landmarks: The Rivanna River runs throughout this area near the old Woolen Mill and Woolen Mills Chapel which still stand today. East High Street provides commercial establishments such as Riverside Lunch and other old favorites on your way to Pantops.

Parks: McIntire Park is a main gathering place for the people of Charlottesville hosting such events as the Dogwood festival and 4th of July Fireworks. To stay up to date on how the 250 Bypass construction will be affecting the park and skate park visit http://www.charlottesville.org/index.aspx?page=3089.

Meade Park PoolMeade Park provides an excellent water park and is often buzzing on hot summer days. The park also hosts a growers-only Farmer’s Market every Wednesday 3:00 to 7:00 pm.

Pen Park is a 280 acre complex consisting of 8 tennis courts, little league baseball diamond, volleyball court, outdoor physical fitness course, trails, and the 18 hole Meadowcreek Golf Course.

Northeast Park also provides a convenient play area in Locust Grove.

front_view_head_onWho Lives Here: Locust Grove and Woolen Mills primarily consist of single family detached homes. Both areas are popular with families big and small as they provide good value homes with a diverse group of homeowners and renters, families, young professionals, and original owners. The Woolen Mills even offers a number of new contemporary homes tucked away on wooded lots overlooking the Rivanna River. Locust Grove has many character rich early 20th century homes as well as 1960-1970s ranches.

Stay Engaged: Check out the Woolen Mills blog here www.historicwoolenmills.org/fabric.html.

sydney for blogBy Sydney Tenhundfeld, REALTOR ®