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On the Bright Side

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Cooling Market Translates Into Hot Area Bargains

The slow housing market has produced some great buys and magnified what’s considered valuable residential real estate in the Washington area.

One Web site, www.TheBestHomeSearchEver.com, lists at least 36 high-end properties—three in the District and 33 in Maryland and Virginia—that have dropped in price by 0,000 or more from their original listing price. The homes now range from between class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt million to million.

A 20-bedroom, eight-bath brick Colonial at 2900 Rhode Island Ave., NE, that once went for nearly class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt.5 million is now selling for just slightly above class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt million. The home, listed by Long & Foster Real Estate, has been on the market for more than a year and a half. Although impressive in design, the 1935 home is a slight fixer-upper, with dated bathrooms and flooring, natural gas and radiator heating. But it does have plenty of bright light, a large storage attic and great structural details.

Another beauty—a newly constructed, six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home at 7730 Lee Ave. in Alexandria, Va.—was originally priced at .45 million by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The price has now been dropped to class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt.995 million. Built by Washington Metropolitan Area Custom Builders, the Alexandria property sits on nearly half an acre and features amenities such as a formal living and dining room, a turret, library, tearoom, high ceilings, hardwood floors, and stone and marble baths. The kitchen is outfitted with Omega Cabinetry, marble and a wine-coffee bar.

Daniel Rubén Odio-Páez, owner of Alexandria-based DROdio Real Estate, said that if you were buying a home just two or three years ago, you had to escalate your offer by at least ,000 just to get the bid looked at by the seller. But times have clearly changed, said Odio-Páez, who’s been in real estate for five years and describes his company as technology-oriented, lending his clients tools such as free global-positioning satellite machines so buyers can drive themselves around.

“Most homebuyers want to kick the tires around a bit. It’s empowering,” he said. “Listing prices are pure fiction. A lot of buyers look at the price, but it doesn’t mean a thing. You don’t really know where a seller is willing to go until you actually make an offer.”

Despite this more empowering scenario for today’s buyers, there are still some areas where price is not negotiable. Take Georgetown. Nearly all realtors agree that Georgetown is the most insulated when it comes real estate in the D.C. area, and there’s little chance of receiving a discount on homes in the neighborhood because of its premium location. In other words: It’s best for sellers, worst for buyers.

However, there are some spectacularly exciting projects under way in Georgetown that cannot be ignored. Among them is Wormley Row, a group of condos being tucked into a school that was built in 1885.

Bethesda, Md.-based Encore Development is constructing the property. Encore is a second-generation builder and developer whose clients include the high-end residences at Alban Row in Northwest Washington and the high-rise development the Palisades of Bethesda.

In the late 1800s, Wormley School was named after James Wormley, a Washington entrepreneur who advocated for the education of the city’s African American children. The former school building features a stunning historic façade and is being completely rebuilt to house seven condominiums, which are expected to open by May. The project also includes six townhouses scheduled to be constructed on the property by year’s end.

The condos will range in price from around class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt.295 million for a one-bedroom patio unit to .45 million for a duplex on the third floor of the building. The first of the Wormley units—a duplex—has already been sold.

John Adler of the real estate firm Randall Hagner is co-marketing the Wormley Row condominium project with colleague Mary Grover Ehrgood. “The goal was to create unique living in Georgetown,” said Adler, who’s been in real estate for seven years. “The natural light just explodes inside the building. It has all the original windows.”

Last year, Ehrgood, also of Randall Hagner, sold the most expensive home in D.C. history: the 1810 Bowie-Sevier mansion, located in the 3100 block of Q Street in Georgetown, which sold for a whopping million.

Randall Hagner is known as the oldest, full-service real estate company in the District, having been in the business for 104 years. According to Yolanda Mamone, senior vice president of Randall Hagner, there are many great values in the region. In addition to Wormley Row, she pointed to Westwood Gardens—a 65-condominium property at 10855 Amherst Ave. in Silver Spring, Md.—where at least a dozen units have already been sold, ranging in price from 2,000 to 5,000.

Another Randall Hagner property that has seen a big boost in activity in recent weeks is a luxurious, two-bedroom condominium located at 3303 Wa ter Street near the Georgetown Waterfront. This .45 million property comes with a large, landscaped garden, open floor plan, two parking spaces, rooftop pool and fabulous views of the Potomac River. It’s been on the market just three months and is being shown only by appointment.

“We do everything, but we’re best known for our niche in the luxury market,” noted Mamone, who’s been in the real estate industry for 29 years. “We see the market picking up.”

Marc Fleisher, associate broker with the Long & Foster Friendship Heights office, agreed that there are bargains to be had in this market, although it depends on the property’s location.

“The closer you get into the city, the more expensive it gets,” said Fleisher, a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry. “We just sold seven lots, ranging from class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt.2 million to million. That was just the land for the custom homes to be built in Bethesda and Potomac [Md.]. Those are people looking at the long-term benefits of the land because there’s not much available.”

He added: “There are different attitudes out there. There is a lot of stubbornness, and a lot of willingness to make deals work.”

In the Washington metropolitan region, Long & Foster sold 104,178 properties in 2006. These transactions amounted to .2 billion in real estate sales that year.

Long & Foster is currently listing an eight-bedroom, three-bath Victorian home at 1842 Lamont St., NW, for class="import-text">2008March. On the Bright Side.txt.049 million. The four-level, 1910 property—an end-unit row house with more than 40 windows and modern amenities—is one of the largest properties in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.

Need a more gigantic slice of luxury real estate? Look no further than the Mediterranean villa-style gem being listed by agent Samu Qureshi with W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors, also a Long & Foster company.

Qureshi’s property, located at 2933-2943 Benton Place, NW, comes with 10 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and three half-baths. The three-level residential castle—built in 1927 and renovated in 2001—is situated near Rock Creek Park close to Embassy Row and features a pool, four-car garage and handcrafted architectural details. The price? A cool .5 million—which suggests that the “cooling” real estate market in the nation’s capital might just depend on your perspective, and your wallet.

About the Author

Christine Cub

Last Edited on November 29, 1999