If you had $1 million or so to spend on your dream house, what could you get with it around here?
Plenty of space and luxury, judging from the more than 20 homes now listed for sale with Washington area brokers at prices ranging from $1 million to $3 million. For instance, you could have:
* A French chateau 20 minutes from Washington. Asking price: $1.495 million.
* A lavishly equipped Potomac home of 14,000 square feet, 10 times larger than many three-bedroom houses being built today. $1.35 million.
* A luxurious country villa (translation: town house) overlooking the Potomac River in McLean. $1.2 million.
* A country estate on two acres of land, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis court and billiards room, generously sized rooms like the 28-foot-long dining room with skylight and fireplaces. $1.650 million.
* A Florentine villa overlooking the city from a rustic Northwest D.C. hill. It is the old Archbold mansion in Georgetown, priced at $3 million.
The sale of a McLean home on two acres of gently hilly land was completed this week. Builder Frederick Lilly, who specializes in luxury homes and who said he likes to have a $1 million house in the works all the time, would not divulge the exact price.
Among the McLean home's attractions are a 2,400-square-foot master bedroom suite, including an 800-square-foot bathroom equipped with Jacuzzi, sauna and exercise equipment, including a punching bag. Outdoors, there is a swimming pool and a hot tub.
From the front door that opens into an atrium entrance way with a small waterfall and plantings, touches of the Orient are evident in paintings, ceramics and rosewood furnishings. The furniture was made in Hong Kong to Lilly's specifications and sold with the house. The spacious rooms of the house stretch through three levels and add up to about 14,000 square feet. There are five bedrooms, each with bath, kitchen, formal living room and formal dining room, large family room and bar, a finished lower level suitable for almost anything, and a deck stretching around most of the back of the house and overlooking woods.
The master bedroom suite has a large bedroom--with bed on raised platform and a mirror overhead--a sitting room, two baths and dressing rooms.
Lilly has become well-known for the opulent bathrooms he designs for the homes he builds, said McLean broker Nancy Williams. She added that a large, expensively equipped bath is often "a real measure of luxury" to buyers.
Homebuilder Samuel P. Pardoe started construction on four luxury town houses in the depths of the recent housing recession and has sold three of them at the asking price of $1.2 million, said a spokesman in his office.
Somewhat plain looking in front, the four town houses have views of the Potomac River and guest houses in back, as much floor space as five average suburban homes, and a third-floor terrace big enough for 50 dinner guests. Luxurious fittings and gadgets abound, and include a Jacuzzi and closed-circuit television and cable hookups in each room.
Another Potomac home with a price tag of $1 million even is in the finishing stages of landscaping by owner-builder James Meni, who is living in the house until it is sold. It has 8,000 square feet of living space and a 2,000-square-foot entrance atrium. There are four bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths with gold-plated fixtures, 10 mahogany doors and many custom-made fittings and equipment, Meni said.
Most of the million-dollar-and-more homes on the Washington area market are in McLean, Potomac, Bethesda and Northwest Washington. An added attraction for many properties, and one that brokers often stress are famous neighbors. Among those mentioned are Ethel Kennedy, Edward Kennedy and Virginia Gov. Charles Robb.
Shoppers in the $1 million-and-up market are usually the local wealthy folks who may move when a new place strikes their fancy, corporate executives, and the occasional foreign government looking for a properly plush home for its ambassador, according to builders and real estate brokers. While rich buyers usually have mortgages of some type, they nearly always have their own banking connections and have no problems with financing, said a builder.
The housing slump had some impact on wealthy shoppers, evidenced by a slowdown in turnover, said Lilly. He said he made it through the recession safely because of the big, luxury houses he builds. In general, though, most wealthy home buyers are not affected seriously by hard times in the industry.
An Arlington penthouse with a spectacular view of Washington, however, was apparently a victim of the recession. It was listed for sale last year at $1.4 million, furnished and equipped. The price has dropped to $850,000 this year on the instructions of an "extremely motivated seller" who "wants to move it quickly," said Jeffrey R. Stidham, a vice president of Previews inc. He said the owner is a corporation that he cannot name.
The Archbold mansion overlooking Glover Archbold Park and much of Washington is, at $3 million, the highest priced home listed by brokers. A fundamentalist religious group, the Christian Embassy, has signed a sales contract with the owners, Hillandale Development Corp. Michael Gulino, a vice president of the development company said the final sale price still is being negotiated and that the mansion will not be taken off the market until the sale is final.
The Christian Embassy, which wants to use the 34-room mansion for a conference center, describes its mission as offering spiritual guidance to members of Congress, their families and aides, Pentagon officers and diplomats who toil in the city spread out below the hilltop mansion. CAPTION: Pictures 1 through 3, Owner-builder James Meni's house, for which he is asking $1 million, has 8,000 square feet of living space, plus 2,000 more in an entrance atrium. Meni home features a waterfall and statue in its lower atrium. Modern living room of Meni house features fireplace, extensive glass and woodwork. Photos by Bill Snead--The Washington Post; Pictures 4 and 5, Entranceway of the Lilly's house passes through atrium. This Potomac home features a swimming pool, extensive decks, and skylights. Photos by M.C. Valada for The Washington Post