A strong economy has fueled a vigorous luxury housing market in the Washington area. Sales, although not as brisk as they once were, remain steady. Sellers are pricing their homes at levels usually not seen in this area. AOL co-founder Steve Case recently sold his McLean, Va., estate for $43 million. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder put his Potomac, Md., house on the market for $49 million. Under Armour founder Kevin Plank is selling his Georgetown abode for $29.5 million. And then there’s AOL co-founder James Kimsey’s McLean manse, which is listed at $62.95 million.
Those jaw-dropping prices are more outliers than the standard, however. In general, Washington’s high-end market is defined as homes priced above $3 million.
“The upper-bracket market does not follow any particular trend in market, economy or season,” said Fouad Talout, a Long & Foster real estate agent who represents high-end buyers and sellers. “When the wealthy want to purchase, they do, regardless of other factors, [such as] economy, time of year, etc., that may impact lower price ranges.”
Within the Washington area, the luxury market varies significantly.
“The market in Bethesda is very different from the market in Potomac,” Talout said. “The market in the 22101 Zip code in McLean is very different from the 22102 Zip code in McLean. Also, there are even distinctions between the $5-million-plus buyers and the $3-million-plus buyers. The upper-bracket buyers tend to be less influenced by economic fluctuations. . . . We also see them capable to purchase at a much higher price than they may be looking at; for example, looking at a $5 million home but capable of purchasing up to $10 million.”
The District has the most homes priced above $3 million and therefore has more sales above $3 million than Maryland or Virginia. According to Talout, the District had 68 sales above $3 million within the past 12 months, 20 of which were above $5 million. There are 65 homes on the market priced at $3 million or higher, 20 of which are priced at $5 million or higher.
McLean had 36 sales above $3 million within the past 12 months, 11 of which were above $5 million. There are 45 homes on the market priced at $3 million or higher. Great Falls had one sale above $3 million and has 23 homes priced at $3 million or higher.
Bethesda and Potomac, Md., have a similar amount of high-end homes listed, but Potomac’s sales have started to pick up. Bethesda had 16 sales above $3 million within the past 12 months, while Potomac had 10 sales above $3 million.
“Potomac is definitely appearing more active than Great Falls,” Talout said. The District “continues to lead the region in the number of properties sold in the $3-million-plus price range. The McLean market is leading the region in record-high sales.”
Washington’s high-end buyers are a disparate group. Many own multiple properties, some locally, nationally or internationally. Some are old money; others have newly acquired wealth. They tend to gravitate toward new construction or recently renovated homes with modern updates and amenities. Location is often at or near the top of their priority list, even at the expense of privacy.
“It would be a mistake to have any particular expectations about luxury buyers,” Talout said. “Luxury buyers do not fit any particular mold.”
Clearly, it takes wealth to own a high-end home. To give you an idea of who can afford houses at this price range, we asked Realtor.com to calculate the minimum salary needed for a buyer to purchase a $3 million dwelling. Staying within the general guidelines of spending no more than 30 percent of gross income on housing, a buyer would have to earn at least $666,224.
Most buyers at this price range tend to pay cash for the house. But if you’d like to know what the monthly mortgage payment would be, Realtor.com figured that out, too. Based on a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.7 percent, the monthly payment would be about $16,656, including taxes and insurance. (This assumes average national tax and insurance rates.)
With Realtor.com’s help, we pulled together a random selection of properties across the region and across the country selling for $3 million, to give you a sense of what is out there at this price range.
To see what $3 million buys, take a look below.
5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms.
Square footage: 4,757.
Price per square foot: $631.
Lot size: 0.06 acre.
Features: The 1890 Victorian stone rowhouse overlooks Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School’s fields. The recently renovated four-level home has four gas fireplaces, two balconies and original hardwood floors. The rear courtyard connects to a two-level, two-car carriage house.
Agent: Constandinos Economides, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms.
Square footage: 5,746.
Price per square foot: $469.
Lot size: 0.16 acre.
Features: The 2003 Craftsman-style house in the Foxhall neighborhood backs onto parkland and has views of the Potomac River. The three-level home has two fireplaces, a library, exercise room, bike room and an elevator. The spacious master suite has a balcony. A two-car garage is attached. The fenced backyard has a swimming pool.
Agent: Eileen McGrath, Washington Fine Properties.
7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms.
Square footage: 5,578.
Price per square foot: $537.
Lot size: 0.19 acre.
Features: The 2003 Craftsman in the Palisades neighborhood has a large front porch, a two-story foyer, four fireplaces, a large rec room on the top level and a home gym. Outdoor spaces include a screened porch, master bedroom balcony and covered terrace. The backyard has a heated swimming pool with a spa. The two-car garage is attached.
Agent: Brad Rozansky, Long & Foster.
6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms.
Square footage: 7,802.
Price per square foot: $385.
Lot size: 0.83 acre.
Features: The newly constructed home on a double lot has an arched double-door entrance, hand-scraped, dark-stained oak floors, and folding glass walls that lead to a flagstone patio and a spacious backyard. The U-shaped house has an in-law suite with a kitchen.
Agents: Cody McBeth, McWilliams|Ballard.
5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms.
Square footage: 5,100.
Price per square foot: $578.
Lot size: 2.46 acres.
Features: Built in 1961, the shingle-style house on the Severn River was renovated last year. Large panes of glass offer river views throughout the home. The kitchen has a large island with a sink. Outdoor spaces include a balcony, wraparound deck, pool area and beach. The property has 340 feet of waterfront and a private pier with a covered slip.
Agents: Dee Dee McCracken and Lisa Barton, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.
7 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms.
Square footage: 15,800.
Price per square foot: $188.
Lot size: 3.09 acres.
Features: The 2007 Neoclassical house has a two-story foyer with marble floors and a pair of curved stairs. The home has six fireplaces and an elevator. The great room has a vaulted ceiling. The kitchen has two islands and a breakfast bar. The master suite has a walk-in closet, sitting room, a fireplace and a balcony. The lower level has a dance floor, kitchen, media room and exercise room. The five-car garage is attached.
Agents: Robert Lucido and Tracy Lucido, Keller Williams.
6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms.
Square footage: 9,349.
Price per square foot: $320.
Lot size: 0.55 acre.
Features: The 2013 house has Potomac River views, a two-story foyer and a great room with floor-to-ceiling windows. The master suite has a sitting room and his-and-her walk-in closets. A media room, game room, sauna and gym are on the lower level. The house is equipped with a wireless speaker sound system and an electric car charger.
Agent: Penny Yerks, Washington Fine Properties.
7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms.
Square footage: 6,115.
Price per square foot: $490.
Lot size: 5.01 acres.
Features: The 1986 brick house in the Finger Lakes Estates community is surrounded by mature trees and overlooks a pond. The house has hardwood floors, four fireplaces, a wood-paneled library and a main-level master bedroom. The lower level has a wet bar and a rec room. A breezeway connects the garage and a professional office suite to the home. The backyard has a pool with a spa.
Agent: Dianne Van Volkenburg, Long & Foster.
6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms.
Square footage: 7,981.
Price per square foot: $374.
Lot size: 2.04 acres.
Features: The 1989 Neoclassical house overlooks Great Falls Park and is tucked down a long gated driveway. The home was designed for entertaining on a grand scale. The ballroom has a two-story ceiling, wet bar and a viewing balcony. Outdoor spaces include verandas, balconies and a large pool deck with a kitchen. The pool has a swim-up bar.
Agents: Roz Drayer and Missy Perkins, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms.
Square footage: 6,742.
Price per square foot: $578.
Lot size: 2.7 acres.
Features: Once owned by a member of the Schlafly family, the 1923 Colonial Revival with cedar shake siding is in a St. Louis suburb within walking distance of the Saint Louis Country Club. The property includes a 718-square-foot carriage house, a 408-square-foot cottage, three-car garage, outdoor fireplace, heated saltwater pool and cabana.
Agents: J. Warner and Sam Hall, Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty.
4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms.
Square footage: 3,588.
Price per square foot: $836.
Lot size: 0.25 acre.
Features: The 2008 contemporary is part of Muirlands, a coastal community north of San Diego with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. The single-level home has Brazilian tiger floors, a marble fireplace with Paleolithic fossils, an expansive deck and elevator access to a four-car garage. The backyard has a tiered garden and a fire pit.
Agents: Maxine Gellen and Marti Gellens-Stubbs, Berkshire Hathaway HomeService.
3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms.
Square footage: 4,400.
Price per square foot: $682.
Lot size: n/a.
Features: Designed by John Oetgen and Reu Architects, the top-floor condo is in the gated Regents Park community, part of Buckhead’s historic Peachtree Battle neighborhood. It was featured in Southern Home magazine last year. A stone terrace offers views of Atlanta’s skyline. Amenities include a guardhouse, a private park and a three-car garage.
Agents: Dawn Mullins and Butch Whitfield, Harry Norman Realtors.