While Great Falls’ main attraction is its scenic views, the affluent community was also ranked first in the country two years ago by CNN on its annual list of top-earning towns.
Single-family homes sit on large, neatly landscaped lots. Great Falls is about 20 miles outside of Washington but when Metro’s planned Silver Line comes to nearby Reston, commuting will be easier.
Dianne Van Volkenburg said she was drawn to the area 15 years ago because of its scenery and because it is home to some of the top-ranked schools in the Fairfax County, including Langley High School.
“The school district is terrific,” she said.
Homes on the market include a five-bedroom, 10-bath estate on five acres for $5.9 million and an older, 1970s-era home with four bedrooms and three baths for $735,000.
Van Volkenburg, also a real estate agent with Long and Foster, said Great Falls is feeling the turn of the market, and home values have increased slightly.
“We’ve had multiple offers on a handful of our properties; inventory is slow on high-end price points,” she said.
Still, high-end buyers are likely to find discounts in Great Falls. The ratio of sale price to original list price in 2012 was 93.1 percent, according to RBI. Moreover, the median sale price decreased to $961,250 in 2012 from $1.01 million in 2011.
While the school system is a big draw, buyers are also attracted to the oversized lots and sense of community.
“It’s a semi-rural community, so these are larger lots of two to five acres. The roads are also very rolling hills, so it’s beautiful photography from a terrain standpoint,” she said.
Van Volkenburg added that some of the more popular neighborhoods are in the newer subdivisions.
“The newer single-family subdivisions have a couple of different builders versus more of a planned neighborhood,” she said.
However, Jackie Taylor, president of the Great Falls Citizens Association, said that what attracted her family to the neighborhood in 1984 might not be what attracts newer residents today.
“For us, part of the attraction was a custom-designed, contemporary house set in the middle of the woods — there was nothing around it that one could see when we moved in,” she said.
She said that she and her husband purchased five acres on one side near them so that no house could be built on the property. Then they designed about a mile-long path to accommodate the 20 stone statues the couple purchased on a trip to Bali.
“The low density, great parks and unspoiled nature along the Potomac and proximity to downtown D.C., entertainment and three major airports make the area unique,” Taylor said.
Great Falls residents typically gather for community events, including holiday celebrations, potluck dinners and concerts on the green.
“There’s also a newcomers club and a trailblazers club for people that enjoy horses. As you get into the community and learn about all these different avenues to make friends, you don’t ever want to leave,” Van Volkenburg said.