Linton Springs is nice and affordable

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

Prices rising, however, as homes don't remain on the market very long

December 28, 2003|By Rebecca Boreczky | Rebecca Boreczky,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In response to the demand for suburban communities during the late 1970s, Carroll County began expanding its development plans away from the town limits of Sykesville.

One of the first areas that county officials identified was undeveloped farmland west of Route 32 and north of Route 26, and the Linton Springs community was built. It was named for a small creek that runs through the area.

There have been three phases of development during the past 25 years in Linton Springs. The community has grown to include an area of 15 streets. Phase one was Irongate, which was built in 1978. It was followed by the neighborhood of Parkside, which was built in 1983, and Summer's Hollow in 1988.

The area houses a mix of workers who commute to jobs throughout the region. Linton Springs is about 45 minutes from downtown Baltimore, 30 minutes from Columbia and Westminster.

The recent real estate boom has helped fuel prices in the area while the community continues to attract young families with children. Home prices range from the low-$200,000s to the low-$300,000s. Many of the homes are of split- or bilevel construction and were built between 1978 and 1998. Nine homes sold during the past 12 months for $254,900 to $330,000, said Sue Sandosky of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. in Eldersburg. Competition often is brisk when for-sale signs go up, she said.

"The market is tight," Sandosky said. "You really have to look to find a house in there."

Concerns about development have prompted Carroll County officials to put curbs on building in the county. Real estate experts said those limits, coupled with low lending rates and a high demand for housing, have increased competition for the few homes that go onto the market. And because land costs keep rising, new construction has priced many buyers out of that market.

Elizabeth and Jason McMahan were worried a year and a half ago when Jason McMahan's job relocated them from Virginia. Seeing prices rise so much there made the McMahans concerned about the costs in Maryland as they embarked on their home search. They found Linton Springs to be more affordable than other areas in the region.

"We were worried about the price difference in housing and whether we could afford to find a good neighborhood in Maryland," Elizabeth McMahan said. "We have two children and we wanted to find them good schools."

The McMahans found the original phase of Irongate to nicely fit their needs. A 1970s split-level contained just enough space for the four of them. They bought the house for $290,000 last year.

"We liked the look of the neighborhood - older homes, well kept and a lot of children," McMahan said.

One of the things the family liked was the school system. Linton Springs Elementary School, for example, was built five years ago. It is one of 15 green schools recognized by Maryland for its environmental work. More than 28,000 students are enrolled in Carroll County schools, ranking the district the ninth-largest in the state.

Deborah Bunker, Linton Springs principal, has witnessed the community's ability to come together more than once during her four years at the school.

"Not only are parents involved in the school but the community is," Bunker said. "I have people in the community volunteering to walk children to and from school, and they don't even have children attending here. "

In addition to liking the neighborhood and the schools, the McMahans enjoy being close to Piney Run Reservoir, a 2 billion-gallon lake in Sykesville. It serves as a popular recreation spot, offering 300 acres of fishing, hiking, nature programs and seasonal festivals. Various programs are offered to toddlers, senior citizens and most everyone in between.

That's why Elizabeth McMahan feels settled in her new home.

"Everyone here is so friendly," she said. "Neighbors look out for each other and really get involved to help at school."

Linton Springs

ZIP code: 21784

Public schools: Linton Springs Elementary, Sykesville Middle, Century High School

Drive time to downtown Baltimore: 45 minutes

Homes on the market: nine

Average list price: $265,900 *

Average sales price: $254,900 *

Days on market: 54 *

Sales price as a percentage of the list price: 96 percent *

* Based on nine properties sold during the past 12 months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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