Some real estate agents feel they should get workmen's compensation for the constant temptation of houses they can't resist buying.

Dorothy Newman, the Embassy Row dealer, said that when she found her house, "I didn't try to negotiate, though the price was more than I thought I should pay. Heavens," she said with obvious horror, "I didn't even ask for a termite clause." That's the one that says the house is free of termites. Not to ask for one is roughly equivalent to not asking if the house has a roof.

Sotheby's Charles Seilheimer has a magnificent home, Leeton Forest, which belonged to Waddy Wood, the early 20th-century Washington architect who designed much of Kalorama.

Jerry Wilson, who is with Millicent Chatel Associates, and her husband bought four houses on the Hill during their marriage and their real estate investments. They split them equally when they separated, she says. Now he lives in a condominium and she still lives in one of their houses.

Toni Hatfield, one of the bigger dealers, admits that buying houses was the way she started in the real estate business. "My profits from my five cookbooks provided my stake for real estate."

Georgetown broker Michael Sullivan's house once belonged to former ambassador, governor and senator Henry Cabot Lodge. But the ancient wisteria on the terrace never bloomed until Sullivan moved in.

Longtime Washington brokers Jeanne and John Murray Begg bought Roedown, a 1765 estate near Annapolis, complete with its ghosts then restored the house and established a racehorse farm.

Samuel Pardoe is a real estate broker/developer known for his million-dollar houses, several of which he has lived in himself. He says, "In tight markets like these, it's the expensive houses that sell well. The rich don't have to worry about interest rates. They pay cash."

Trudie Musson, a relative newcomer to the business, agrees. "Million-dollar houses sell best. There are fewer of them. The hot competition is in $200,000 houses."