Why Loudoun County?
That's what I set out to learn after breaking the news Wednesday that Washington Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III paid $2.5 million for a five-bedroom home in Loudoun's Creighton Farms golf course community.
Turns out, there are plenty of reasons, at least 900 of them. That's the size, in acres, of the luxury, gated complex with a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. The community, acquired by Southworth Development in 2009 is about 30 miles from downtown D.C. and about as secluded as you can get, free from prying eyes, picture-taking paparazzi and adoring fans.
Griffin is "so recognizable and such a popular person that I don't think he can even go to a mall or a restaurant without getting recognized," said W. Scott Prendergast, CEO of Apex Custom Homes, which is one of the preferred homebuilders at Creighton Farms and built RGIII's new home. "We just want to give him his privacy and his space."
Prendergast said he met Griffin and his fiance, Rebecca Liddicoat, during the sale process.
"He's a very, very nice young man, and they're nice people," Prendergast said.
Prendergast declined to talk specifically about the deal or Griffin out of respect for his privacy but was willing to talk more about the custom homebuilding market. Turns out, it's on the rise.
Griffin's new home is one of 14 that have been completed at Creighton Farms since Southworth bought the site, all of them uniquely customized and elaborately furnished. Another four were built prior to the company's acquisition of the community.
Activity is increasing at the community, and not just because of its newest homeowner, Prendergast said. He believes the luxury custom-home business is growing on the strength of the region's larger housing market.
"It's been a tough market, but it's definitely picking up," Prendergast said. "We're seeing customers that are really ready to make deals and are ready to commit and write contracts. In part, I think it's pent-up demand."
Southworth spokeswoman Cindy Lawrence said the company has sold more than half of Creighton Farms' 180 residential lots, including 10 purchased since the first of the year.
Prices range from $495,000 for a three-quarter-acre lot to $1.3 million for a 7-acre lot. And that's just the cost of the land. Lawrence said it's difficult to say how high the actual home prices are because that depends on how lavish a home the buyers want. Unlike in developed suburban community, buyers select home lots and contract with preferred builders like Apex to customize their own homes. Some of the homes built on larger lots are valued at about $10 million.
In addition to the existing 18 homes, eight more are under construction and eight others are scheduled to start later this year, Lawrence said. Southworth spent about $11 million to build a new golf course clubhouse and cart barn last year, is on track to finish a new tennis court in about two weeks and has begun construction on a new pool complex.
"We are seeing increased traffic and increased sales," Lawrence said.
© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.