The JaLaur Corp. is getting ready to build 58 detached houses in Damascus, a town founded by Edward Hughes, the great-great-great grandfather of JaLaur partner Hal Magruder. Hughes was a country doctor who was appointed the first postmaster of that upper Montgomery County village by President James Madison. The site JaLaur is developing is on Woodfield Road next to the site of Damascus Motors and the Damascus Recreation Center. "We will offer three basic models," said Magruder, "with the most basic having three bedrooms and one bath and priced at $51,950."

Developer Oliver T. Carr and others recently acquired a property at 1341 12th St. NW for $313,650 from Rulon Enterprise, Inc.

What turns on a group of 25 Australians looking at Washington real estate as part of a long tour of the U.S. and other nations? Ice water coming out of the door of a refrigerator and the many women who sell real estate here, according to a staff member of the Washington Board of Realtors who showed the Aussies around town last weekend. Australian housing comparable to Washington' costs about two-thirds less, it was learned. And Australian real estate agents work on a salaries basis but the government sets the commission rate charged by brokers.

Mr. and Mrs. R. P. Burroughs recently sold a vacant lot at 3301 M St. NW next to the former William Chevrolet building for $324,000 to Florenz Ourisman and Donohoe Construction Co. A spokesman for Donohoe said no decision has been made about building on the site.

After being on the market for two years for about $550,000, a highly contemporary house in Bethesda with a central, conical fireplace has been sold for $463,000 to Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Clay. The firm of Poblak, Inc., handied the sale of the house, which was listed by the seller, Mr. and Mrs. Harold E. Giesinger, with Panorama Real Estate, Inc. The house at 7800 Congressional Country Club. The 12-year-old house was designed by Diegert-Yerkes for original owner Byron S. Roudabush, who now lives at the Watergate.

Philip L. Sheridan, formerly with Wills & Van Meter, has joined Dwight Schar, who used to be with Ryan Homes, to form a new firm, Concord Homes, Inc., which plans to build 52 town houses on Sutton Road, near Route I-66 in Vienna, Va.