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Trending to Townhouses

The condo bug bit builder Buzz Loyd about two decades too early. Loyd’s current development is selling like hotcakes, but 20 years ago sales weren’t so sweet. Loyd admits his Westmont Oaks development on Fort Bragg Road in Haymount may have been ahead of its time. Lloyd says now his Villas on Lockwood, off Morganton Road, are selling at a rate of one every 10 days.

“Fayetteville has become a much more metropolitan town since then (Westmont Oaks). We’ve had a huge influx of people from Texas and here and there and yonder and they’ve come to Fayetteville with cosmopolitan tastes. And I think that’s driving the condo market, too,” he says.

Bob Measamer, past president of the North Carolina Association of Realtors and a Fayetteville builder, agrees.

“We’re seeing a transition happen between people who are my age, in their 60s, who have been pushing a lawnmower all their married life.”

Measamer says the condo and town home market is booming in Raleigh, Greensboro and especially Atlanta. And this trend isn’t leaving Fayetteville behind. Measamer says buyers, both baby boomers and younger professional couples, want the ability to leave town simply by locking the door.

Susan Burke, the listing agent for Loyd’s new development, says the people who step into the Lockwood Villa model always react the same way.

“Two things they always say: they look so much larger than from the outside and it looks and feels like a home,” she says.

Before looking deeper into the condo craze it’s important to get one thing straight: These luxury town homes don’t resemble your college apartment. Nor even that “condo” you leased after landing your first paying job. The Villas at Lockwood come with 10-foot ceilings, wide hallways, floor-to-ceiling windows, and spacious rooms. The kitchens feature granite, tile, and stainless steel, the closets are walk-in and the bathrooms are larger than a typical Haymount guestroom.

Another manifestation of the condo trend, Churchill Manor town homes have 9-foot ceilings and more square footage than most starter homes. But it’s the touches you don’t see that ensure luxurious living. There are no common walls between neighboring units. Separate walls with air between them and acoustical material between the downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor capture and retain sound.

All the finish work as well as door and wall placement is customizable. just as in an executive, made to order home.

“In here, you’re able to sample a $700,000 dollar house for $200,000 to $250,000,” said Loyd.

Daniel Madden, a first-time military homebuyer, says buying a villa just made sense. Madden says he and his wife probably won’t be in the area long, but they wanted to buy anyway. He calls their luxury condo an investment.

“Right now is the time to buy in Fayetteville with the base relocation and everything,” he says.

Madden isn’t part of the BRAC relocation, but he said he and his wife feel more confident about rising home values because of the anticipated influx of people.

Loyd, however, says his sales haven’t been affected by BRAC, adding that Fayetteville hasn’t even felt the impact of BRAC yet. . He says they’ve only sold a few units to military buyers.

So what is driving the hype about high-class, low-maintenance living?

“I think that the dirt has gotten so expensive,” says Carolyn Fincher, the owner of Premier Properties, the real estate company listing the Lockwood Villas.

“People can have a quality place like what we’ve got here. You have all those amenities that you would have in a nice, nice home, an upscale home but because of the land being so expensive, people can’t afford those homes anymore. So they choose this,” she says.

Watson Caviness is president and co-owner of Caviness and Cates Building and Development. His company is building a condominium project near the Hoke County line, called The Enclave at Trayburn. Caviness says he’s seen more hype over town-homes and condos in the last few years.

“Nobody can build a single family dwelling for a price point under $150,000. The price of land and materials makes it impossible to do so,” he says.

Loyd says the number of “in-town” lots is shrinking, especially in desirable areas. (Think location, location, location.) He says fewer than 50 remain.

So has Fayetteville caught Loyd’s buzz for villas or just signed onto the low–maintenance life-style along with others around the country. Whatever the reason, sales are good. According to Loyd, Fayetteville’s brisk housing market is a trend only getting stronger.

“The whole town is just rolling out the streets,” he says.

Editor’s Note: Potential condo customers may wish the units came with the finishing touches seen in the model added by Lynn Leath of Lynn Leath Interiors. She decorated the condo in neutral tones, but added lots of red for the coming holidays. See the accompanying story for some suggestions from Lynn for your home, be it a condo, townhouse, apartment, or mansion.

At least 150, preferably 200-that’s the number of items Lynn Leath, decorator and owner of Lynn Leath Interiors, says she hangs on an average Christmas tree. So as you mentally count the boxes of ornaments in your attic, Lynn has some advice.

“Put everything you’ve got on the tree, even the things you aren’t fond of that may have lost some of their luster,” she says. “Tuck those farther into the tree and bring your newer larger things out.”

Lynn says it’s O.K. to buy lots of small, inexpensive baubles. She says to invest your money in a few oversized ornaments. But unless it’s a family treasure, buy between 3 and 6 of each style. “It will give your tree a little more glamorous look, a little more professional look,” she says.

Other tree tips

• Place dramatic items in diagonal lines.

• Flocked trees give a wintery feel in a warm climate.

• Buy ornaments in both shiny and matte finishes.

• Invest in wired ribbon that you can iron and re-use.

Trimming the house

“I think it is very important to buy a few pieces of very good garland for your house.” Lynn says thinner garland is fine for a staircase, but on mantles, mirrors and tables, use thicker pieces. She says you can add bulk to the greenery with ribbon, berries and colored balls.

• Display holiday cookbooks in the kitchen.

• Pull your main holiday color into other rooms

with pillows, flowers and ribbon.

• Mix fresh, dried, and silk flowers throughout your home.

And finally Lynn says decorate with friends and family. She leaves a box of special ornaments by the tree for out-of-town family members to place on the tree when they arrive. She says that way everyone has a part in dressing up the house.