Instead, they found what they were looking for just a couple of miles north in Sugarland Run, a compact community of 2,062 homes in eastern Loudoun County. More than 26 miles of walking trails wind under tall trees, behind homes and around Willow Lake, stretching to Algonkian Regional Park and the stream for which the community is named.
“That’s what really attracted us to this neighborhood — the trails and the trees,” O’Connor said. “We found that we didn’t have to go farther west to have that connection with nature that we were looking for.”
Another consideration was that they were also able to get “more value for the dollar” in Sugarland Run compared with neighboring communities, he said.
Karl Acorda, a real estate professional affiliated with Olympic Realty, said that most homes in Sugarland Run are priced below $525,000, “whereas the houses around us are $600,000-plus.”
A 26-year Sugarland Run resident who has been selling homes in the area since 2009, Acorda described the community as “a pocket in Sterling” with affordable homes, California-style architecture and only a few points of entry. Boise Cascade built the community on farmland in the early 1970s, more than a decade before it was surrounded by the development of Cascades and other, smaller neighborhoods.
Close to everything: The four basic home models have Southern California-themed names: Balboa, Laguna, Malibu and Redondo. Many feature open floor plans, high ceilings, spacious rooms and main-level master bedrooms — all of which, Acorda said, are attractive to home buyers. The location is also appealing, he added.
“There is so much right here that is either just a short drive or a short bike ride away — whether it’s restaurants or retail — that it allows you to have everything you would need close at hand.”
“We love the location,” said Hella Dragoi, who has lived in Sugarland Run since 2007. “It doesn’t matter which direction I want to go — toward D.C., toward Leesburg — it’s right in the center. It is close to everything.”
Dragoi, whose townhouse is near a large playground and the community’s Olympic-size pool, likes being able to send her children out the door to play or go to swim team practice.
“We don’t need to have a big yard because this whole street is our big yard,” she said.
O’Connor said that Sugarland Run has “a good community vibe.”
“There are two elementary schools nestled within the community itself,” he said. “So, particularly if you have school-age children, you’re amongst your neighbors and the parents of your children’s friends.”
Raising a family in a diverse community has also been a plus, O’Connor said.
“We highly value and really appreciate that our kids have grown up with their friends of all different skin colors — all different ethnicities and nationalities — and that they have a greater appreciation for being human first,” he said.
Living there: Sugarland Run is between Potomac View Road on the west and, on the east, the stream after which the community is named. It is bordered by the communities of Seneca Chase and Seneca Ridge to the south and Cascades to the west and north.
According to Acorda, 80 homes in Sugarland Run have sold this year: 39 single-family homes at an average price of $467,000, 40 townhouses at an average price of $330,000, and one condo for $315,000. Prices ranged from $200,000 for a townhouse with two bedrooms and two bathrooms to $535,000 for a single-family house with five bedrooms and four baths.
There are two homes on the market: a townhouse with three bedrooms and two bathrooms priced at $299,000 and a townhouse with two bedrooms and two baths priced at $310,000.
The community has 1,027 single-family homes, 785 townhouses and 250 condos. Owners of single-family homes pay $74.71 in fees to the HOA, which maintains the swimming pool, community center, playgrounds, trails and other amenities. Owners of townhouses and condos also pay monthly fees to sub-associations to cover additional services and maintenance costs.
Residents of single-family homes contract directly with haulers for trash removal. VDOT maintains the public streets and Loudoun Water provides water and sewer.
Schools: Meadowland and Sugarland Elementary, Seneca Ridge Middle and Dominion High School.
Shopping: Supermarkets, shops and restaurants are within a mile or two in shopping centers such as Great Falls Plaza, Cascades Marketplace and Cascades Overlook.
Transit: Sugarland Run is about a mile north of Route 7, the main commuting corridor. Loudoun County Transit’s Metro Connection buses stop about a mile away, in Cascades and at Great Falls Plaza. The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station is about nine miles away.