Reduced by $2.5 Million!

Moeen Qureshi's Massachusetts Heights residence was actually two houses purchased for a combined $2.6 million in 2000.
Moeen Qureshi's Massachusetts Heights residence was actually two houses purchased for a combined $2.6 million in 2000. (Homevisit.com)
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By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2008

For many neighbors, there is nothing more fascinating than the most expensive house on the block. Does it have a movie theater? Do servants pop out of closets to take your coat? Is your own house cuter after all?

In the District, a white stucco home listed for $18.5 million holds the title of most expensive on the market, but during a recent tour, there were no servants and not even a movie theater. Instead, the house compensates with a four-car garage, an elevator and a pool.

The two crystal chandeliers in the foyer are motorized and can descend when you -- or the help -- want to clean them. The S-shaped staircase in the foyer that the interior designer calls a "flowing serpentine" was custom-made. Oh, and a strategic location in Nothwest's Massachusetts Heights neighborhood puts you in place to wander over to Vernon Jordan's house for coffee.

The owner, Moeen Qureshi, spent more than 20 years at the World Bank, rising to senior vice president and spending a three-month stint as the prime minister of Pakistan. In 2000, Qureshi bought two houses, about half the block, for $2.6 million, then began extensive remodeling and rebuilding.

The houses were rebuilt over 18 months into a 22,320-square-foot compound, including a 3,000-square-foot "connector" to bridge the two properties. It has 10 bedrooms, 10 full baths and three half-baths.

One complication was that one of the homes was at a slightly higher elevation than the other, said Rod Escobar, the builder. The five-foot height difference was disguised with steps in the connecting portion that went down to some rooms and up to others, he said.

"You are stepping down from one house to the other," Escobar said. "That was probably the biggest architectural challenge."

The home is decorated with Persian carpets and antiques from local shops and flea markets. (They are not included in the sales price but can be purchased.) The exterior is reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa, with white stucco and terra cotta tile roofs.

Finding a buyer at that price level can be tough. Qureshi originally listed the house for $21 million in late 2006 but pulled it off the market last year.

There are only seven other homes on the market in the District that are listed at more than $7 million. Since 2001, 16 D.C. homes have sold for more than $7 million, and only four of those were for more than $10 million, according to data from Metropolitan Regional Information Systems.

The owner's son and his real estate agent, Samu Qureshi, is advertising in upscale real estate magazines including Christie's Great Estates, Luxury Home Magazine and Long & Foster's Extraordinary Properties. He's also trying to attract international buyers through listings in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Samu Qureshi, an agent with W.C. & A.N. Miller, said he has already shown the property to three potential buyers. He said it could be enticing to foreign governments looking for an ambassador's residence. "It could be an embassy, but it is set up as a home," he said.

But don't bother to stop by for a nosy-neighbor visit. There will be no open houses, and interested buyers must provide a pre-qualification letter proving that they can afford the home before a showing.

House.gossip is an occasional look at interesting places owned by interesting people. To let us know about houses worth covering, e-mail us at realestate@washpost.com.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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