Evermay sold for $22 million last year. Photograph by Stu Estler.
Washington’s housing market may have been sluggish in 2012, but for the first time two houses sold for more than $20 million in the same year.
The most expensive deal was Evermay, a 200-year-old brick mansion on 3½ acres in the heart of Georgetown. The Belin family had owned the walled property for nearly nine decades when Harry Belin—a retired horticulturist and Navy officer who was unable to afford the taxes and upkeep—put it on the market in September 2008 for $49 million. Despite rumors that Oprah Winfrey was interested in the house, Evermay languished, its list price dropping dramatically before finally selling for $22 million in May. The buyers were Japanese biotech entrepreneurs Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno, who own Bethesda-based Sucampo Pharmaceuticals.
Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis came in a close second. In January, he paid $20 million for Marwood, an 85-year-old estate on 13 acres in Potomac along the Potomac River. The chateau-like mansion was rented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as John F. Kennedy’s parents, Joseph and Rose Kennedy, in the 1930s. The former owners, telecom exec Chris Rogers and his wife, Nalini, had recently done an extensive renovation. The ten-bedroom, 13-bath estate includes a guesthouse, an apartment, a pool house, a tennis court, and parking for ten cars.
“The ultra-luxe market is a very confident market,” says Thomas B. Anderson, president of Washington Fine Properties. “Those buyers aren’t necessarily selling to buy. If you can afford that level, you can afford it.” Anderson says that to command top dollar, a home has to be in excellent condition: “Buyers are trying to stay away from properties that require a lot of work.”
Water views and proximity to downtown DC are also draws. In DC, Georgetown has the most cachet, followed closely by Kalorama and Massachusetts Avenue Heights. In the suburbs, McLean, Great Falls, Potomac, Chevy Chase, and Bethesda command the highest prices. Here’s a look at the rest of the year’s biggest deals.
Telecom exec Chris Rogers and Ted Leonsis swapped mansions. In addition to selling Leonsis Marwood for $20 million, Rogers paid him $9 million for a house in McLean with eight bedrooms, 13 baths, and eight fireplaces. But that wasn’t the only home Rogers—a founder of Fleet Call, which became Nextel Communications—bought this year. He also spent $10 million on a six-bedroom, eight-bath Colonial on a double lot near downtown Bethesda. The house has a 40-foot-high grand salon.
In DC, philanthropist and businesswoman Adrienne Arsht sold a six-bedroom, ten-bath Georgian-style home in Spring Valley for $7.5 million. The house has six sets of French doors that overlook gardens and a pool. There’s also a 12-seat theater, two reflecting ponds, and a circular drive with space for 14 cars.
Former Hewlett-Packard head and California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and her husband, Frank, bought a six-bedroom, ten-bath Colonial on Gunston Road in Lorton for $6.1 million. On five acres, the waterfront house has a pool, wet and dry steam rooms, a theater, an exercise room, and a hot tub. It listed for $7.8 million.
Rosslyn’s Turnberry Tower claimed lots of VIPs this year. The 26-story condo building has all the hallmarks of a super-luxury development: elevators that open into most units, a 24-hour concierge, valet parking, an indoor pool. And if you hang out in the lobby, you may spot some famous-for-Washington names.
Buyers this year included Marvin Bush—the youngest son of former President George H.W. Bush—who spent $2.5 million on a 3,000-square-foot unit; senior-living moguls Paul and Terry Klaassen, who paid $2.4 million; and philanthropist Barbara Allbritton—wife of longtime Washington businessman Joe Allbritton—whose 2,650-square-foot condo set her back $2.4 million.
Although many of the sales in the building are hidden behind limited-liability corporations, tax records show that these residents have plenty of well-off neighbors, including Volkswagen Group of America CEO Jonathan Browning and Arent Fox partner Robert Falb.
Next: Homes that sold for $3 million and up