Lynette Middle has bought and sold homes in Washington in the $1 million price range and had very different experiences. She purchased her current home on Capitol Hill in 2008 after it had been on the market for seven months. She said that the market had slowed and that the sellers were desperate to move.
“Now it seems to have shifted back to a market much more similar to when we bought our first home on the Hill [in 2003] where there can be multiple bids on a desirable home and things go under contract in a matter of days,” she said.
Middle said that with home values on the upswing buyers are probably going to be getting less today in terms of location and size than they could several years ago. She’s currently in the market for another $1 million house on the Hill that is close to her sons’ elementary school.
“We are particularly interested in outdoor space, parking [she has none now], and additional storage,” she said. “We have two growing boys and would love a yard that we could send them outside to play in, but there are trade-offs to living in this corner of the city.”
Even with the trade-offs, one thing is certain in the Washington area: Luxury buyers have returned.
“The number of days on the market [for houses in the $1 million price range] is shrinking,” said Andrew Strauch, director of product innovation, marketing and education at the Rockville-based multiple-listing service MRIS.
Competition is intensifying. From September 2012 to September 2013, the number of homes selling in the $1 million to $2.5 million price range rose 46.1 percent, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence, a market research subsidiary of MRIS.
“As home price increases have taken place those that were under water are not under water anymore,” Strauch said. “The price appreciation has now moved some buyers [into] the $1 million price range.”
Several real estate agents said that even the uncertainty surrounding the shutdown of the federal government hasn’t dampened this market yet.
“Traffic is right on par with where it was last year,” said Lizzy Conroy, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in McLean. “The upper-bracket luxury market is not affected by the government shutdown.”
Louis Andors, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, is working with a couple that recently put a contract on a $1 million house. He said the couple had been circling around several homes until the right one emerged.
“A lot of people deferred their buying decisions for a long time after the recession. The sellers decided they didn’t want to sell their home in a down market and were just waiting until the market improved, which it has,” Andors said. “Also, the mortgage market sorted itself out for jumbo loans making them more readily available for credit worthy borrowers.”
Mortgage rates have been dropping lately. But the mere threat of an increase has spurred a larger influx of potential buyers than is typically seen in the fall, Strauch said.
From a luxurious top-floor apartment in the District to a 10,000-square-foot house with an elevator and theater in Prince George’s County to a 1920s Colonial on 35 acres in Warrenton — $1 million will buy a variety of housing types in the region:
In the city, many buyers are willing to pay a premium for being close to pretty much everything and having an easy commute.
Still, $985,000 can go a long way for people looking for an upscale lifestyle. For instance, there’s a three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment, No. 824, in the luxurious Colonnade building at 2801 New Mexico Ave. NW. This apartment, a rarely available top-floor unit, overlooks the front gardens with sweeping southern and western views.
In addition to features such as hardwood floors, granite counters and built-in entertainment centers and shelving, the building comes with an Olympic-size pool and a fitness center.
At 424 Seventh St. SE, on Capitol Hill, there’s a white brick three-story end-unit townhouse for $1.05 million. The Victorian-style house is a short walk from the Eastern Market Metro station. It has three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms.
The owners updated the more than 100-year-old townhouse, which has a sunny main level with an open floor plan, curved staircase, separate formal dining room with chair rail molding, built-in features and period lighting. A large eat-in kitchen was renovated in 2008, and double French doors open onto the patio.
“Built in 1887, the home features a great combination of the charm of old plus today’s modern open living standards,” says Megan Shapiro, a real estate agent at Re/Max. “The kitchen was renovated in 2009 and won one of the best small kitchen renovations in 2009 by Home & Design Magazine.”
A grand Colonial with a large back yard, at 1002 Irving St. NE, is listed at $950,000. The house is in historic Brookland, six blocks from the Catholic University Metro stop and within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
The 1,600-square-foot house has four bedrooms and 31 / 2 baths. The house, built in 1910, is under renovation. Once completed, it will have granite counters in the kitchen and new hardwood floors throughout.
The home, which has an all-white exterior, is directly across from the historic Round House, said Lonna Hooks, real estate agent with Keller Williams Properties. “It was also originally owned by the man who was the largest landholder in Brookland,” she said.
Luxury buyers who want to be close to but not in the city are often drawn to Bethesda. A 4,000-square-foot townhouse at 6423 Goldleaf Drive in the Goldsboro community is on the market for $1.025 million — well below the $1.2 million it sold for in 2008.
The end-unit townhouse has four bedrooms, three full baths, two half baths, and a two-car garage. It was built in 1985, renovated in 2007 and has many of the features — a full-home emergency generator, new HVAC and a sprinkler system — found in newer properties.
“This particular listing is attractive to buyers first and foremost for its location. It’s about as centrally located as you can get,” said Kara Sheehan, a realty agent with Washington Fine Properties. “It has a considerable amount of square footage and a real two-car garage.”
Farther out, in Howard County, is a custom-designed, 7,000-square-foot, single-family house on three acres at 6605 Corina Court in Columbia. The house has six bedrooms, four full bathrooms, a half bathroom and a dramatic three-story foyer with a marble floor. Natural light bathes the house through skylights and towering windows.
There is a two-story great room with a four-sided fireplace and kitchen overlooking a three-level deck. “This spectacular cedar-sided contemporary home is set on an open lot providing a park-like setting while only minutes to Columbia shopping, dining and Route 32 for commuting,” said Sandy Jaso, an agent with Long and Foster. “This move-in-ready home offers a suburban environment while not sacrificing the convenience of city living.”
Buyers looking for lots of high-end amenities may be drawn to a $1.07 million, 10,000-square-foot house in the Hamptons at Woodmoore subdivision in Prince George’s County. The three-story house — on 1.32 acres at 912 Jennings Mill Drive in Bowie — has an elevator, theater room, gym, morning room and sun room.
The house includes six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a 3,000-square-foot finished basement. The house, built in 2008, also has an intercom system, a dual staircase and two-tiered deck.
In Arlington, a three-bedroom, 21 / 2-bath residence, has a large front porch with two ceiling fans and plenty of room for outdoor furniture.
The house, on a corner lot and priced at $1.05 million, has been substantially renovated. Upgrades include a chef’s kitchen with Viking stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinetry, granite counters and slate floor. The house, at 1100 21st St., is just minutes from two Metro stops and many shopping and dining options.
In Fairfax, buyers can find a 1955 four-bedroom, 31 / 2-bath split-level house that was renovated in 2008. Upgrades in the $1.07 million house, at 8605 Hillside Pl., include cherry cabinetry, granite counters and an island in the kitchen, along with an adjoining sunroom. All of the bedrooms are carpeted, with wood floors underneath.
The spacious house sits on one acre and has a parklike setting in the front and rear yards. Features include multiple decks, a patio, waterfalls and stone retaining walls. There’s also a garage that can be put to several uses.
“A car enthusiast will love the versatile garage and workshop space” — enough to accommodate three or four car bays or a large workshop, said Fran Rudd, associate broker with ERA Elite Group. She added that the house is near two Metro stations.
In the Warrenton area of Fauquier County, there is a 1920s Colonial at 4275 Broad Run Church Rd. on 35 acres.
The house, listed at $1.17 million, has four bedrooms, including a main-floor master suite and three full bathrooms. There’s also a two-car garage.
The columned brick entryway leads to a large front porch where guests can take in the countryside. The house has two fireplaces, a wet bar, custom deck and shed. The real estate agent says the house is ideal for equestrians looking for space for their horses to roam.
Carisa Crawford-Chappell is a freelance writer.