- The Washington Times - Friday, January 2, 2009

While most Washington-area residents struggle to figure out how to buy a median-price single-family home, which was $332,700 in the third quarter of 2008, others toy with purchasing a home in the stratospheric price range hovering around $5,000,000. The National Association of Realtors Web site, Realtor.com, estimates the monthly payment for a $5,000,000 home at about $27,000 per month.

Of course, many buyers in this price range have assets that allow them to pay cash or make a substantial down payment to lower their monthly costs. A variety of home styles is available in this price range, from a true estate with 164 acres in Montgomery County to a seven-bedroom home in McLean and a riverfront estate in Alexandria with over 11,000 square feet.

Realtor Jane Fairweather with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Bethesda says that most buyers in the $5,000,000-and-up price range are looking for entertaining space.

“Many luxury homebuyers are looking for a palatial interior with grand areas for large gatherings,” says Mrs. Fairweather. “Houses say a lot more than just ‘I sleep here.’ They send an important message, especially for business gatherings.”

For this type of buyer, Mrs. Fairweather has a listing at 8603 Rapley Gate Terrace, part of the gated Avenel golf-course community in Potomac. Priced at $4,950,000, this home has seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms. Built in 1998, this custom-built home has 18,000 finished square feet with three kitchens, three fireplaces, an elevator, two terraces and a grand portico. In addition to the three-car garage built to hold limousines, there is a 10-car parking area. The main level includes a 34-by-32-foot living room, a 23-by-26-foot family room and an expansive formal dining room, and the grounds include patios, a hot tub and waterfalls.

“At Avenel, the grounds are all maintained so buyers have a low-maintenance lifestyle,” says Mrs. Fairweather. “The community is convenient to downtown Washington and to shopping areas and airports, so buyers can use the home just for entertaining if they wish.”

Mrs. Fairweather acknowledges that there are also luxury homebuyers who are looking for land with plenty of privacy and rolling land where they can have large family gatherings and maybe even raise horses.

Realtor Patricia B. Smith of PBS Real Estate LLC is listing the home at 21420 Big Woods Road in Dickerson, near Barnesville for $4,900,000. Known as Monocacy Manor, this stately home rests on 164 acres with a swimming pool, a tennis court and views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains adjacent to Woodstock Farm Park. The property has extensive equestrian trails.

“This is a huge private estate with plenty of space for building an additional home on the land,” says Ms. Smith. “It is very unusual to be selling this much land in Montgomery County, but this is located in an area that is zoned as an agricultural reserve.”

Monocacy Manor, built in 1977, has six bedrooms, five full baths, three half baths, a grand foyer, a great room with a cathedral ceiling, a stone and stucco exterior, an exercise room with a sauna, a garage with space for at least four cars and a backup generator.

Mrs. Fairweather says that homes in upper price ranges are typically on the market for one year or longer, especially in the current market.

“We are in an across-the-board recession, but among the hardest-hit are the really wealthy with large stock portfolios,” says Mrs. Fairweather. “If you look at the market as a triangle with the tip representing properties priced in the $5,000,000-and-up range, then you realize that there are simply a lot more buyers for properties at the bottom of the pyramid than at the top. There are just very few people who are able to afford this type of property.”

Mrs. Fairweather says that in every recession, there are always some people who are doing fine financially, but she thinks many people are waiting until spring to make decisions on buying homes.

“For a while, when the dollar was low, we were seeing a lot of European buyers, but this has become a global recession with everyone feeling the pain,” says Mrs. Fairweather.

Buyers who can afford a high-end property often want a custom home so they can incorporate their own personalities and style preferences. Washington Fine Properties LLC Realtors Carrill McKenzie and William F.X. Moody are listing a spectacular, nearly 2-acre homesite at 6699 MacArthur Blvd. in Bethesda, just one mile from the District line.

Listed at $5,775,000, this property sits on a hilltop with dramatic 180-degree views overlooking the Potomac River. Finding a lot with space for a custom-built estate is unusual so close to the city, and it is even more rare to locate one with such an impressive vista.

Potomac River views are part of the appeal at the home at 4003 Belle Rive Terrace in Alexandria, listed by Realtor Christopher White of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. in the Old Town historic district office for $4,800,000. This home was built in 2002 by Mike Garcia Construction and has been designed to maximize the river views from every room.

With more than 11,000 square feet of interior space, this home includes five bedrooms, with a first-floor master suite facing the river. Extensive balconies, patios, multitiered decks and a roof deck offer places for entertaining and enjoying the majestic setting. The all-brick home has a stately brick pillared entry to the circular driveway, with a brick-and-limestone staircase leading to the main entrance and a flagstone front terrace. A tower, which adds a castlelike effect to the home, is on a riverfront corner of the residence.

Entertaining possibilities are maximized in this home, which has a grand two-story foyer with an expansive Potomac River vista and a view from the living and dining rooms through walls of windows and three-panel sliding glass doors to the deck overlooking the water. A double-sided gas fireplace includes a raised brick hearth that adds 36 feet of seating area for guests. The upper level includes a conservatory and art gallery plus a reception area designed for conferences, lectures, poetry readings and recitals, while the lower level has a dance floor, another fireplace with 35 feet of seating space along the brick hearth, and a wet bar with surround sound and a sliding-glass door leading to a 1,600-square-foot flagstone patio.

The custom home at 1168 Chain Bridge Road in Langley Farms in McLean, priced at $4,995,000, has been designed for drama and entertaining. Listed by Realtors Michael Rankin and Rob Carney of Tutt, Taylor and Rankin Sotheby’s International Realty, this home features a central gallery that crosses the length of the residence. Built in 2006, this home has a formal living room and a formal dining room, each with a fireplace and walls of windows and glass doors to the deck.

The spectacular family room features a three-story stone fireplace. Nearby is an informal living room or “club room” with a full bar. The gourmet kitchen includes professional-grade appliances. An informal dining room features a soaring ceiling overhead. The upper-level master suite has a separate sitting room and a luxurious marble bath with a steam shower and free-standing claw-foot whirlpool tub.

The home has an elevator that reaches all three levels, plus five more bedrooms and six more full baths and two half baths. The lower level features a state-of-the-art media room, a gym, a game room and a second kitchen.

Outdoor space for entertaining includes a terrace with an outdoor fireplace and a heated swimming pool with a hot tub. The nearly 1-acre property has been lushly landscaped.

Whether buyers opt for an equestrian-ready estate in Montgomery County, a modern McLean residence wrapped in glass, a golf-course community stately home, a riverfront estate in Alexandria or a spectacular lot ready for a custom home, the stratospheric price range of these homes means buyers will acquire showplaces that will stand out in the Washington area.

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