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Also, a 1,000 square foot indoor pool. By Michelle Thomas

This McLean mansion comes with an intriguing backstory: In 2012, after being listed for $12.5 million, the home was relisted with a discounted price of $8.99 million and a curious catch—the buyer would have to agree to let the seller, bariatric surgeon Dr. Hazem Elariny, live there for three years post-settlement. Apparently there were no takers. Now the home is back on the market—but no weird contingencies this time.

Dubbed the “Castle on the River,” the 16,000-square-foot estate features a Potomac waterfront setting, a castle-stone exterior and—of course—a turret, plus a bevy of majorly opulent details. A 14-foot carved mahogany double door opens to the entry hall, outfitted with a six-foot crystal chandelier, a floating maple staircase, and heated imported Italian Calcutta gold marble floors; elsewhere, there’s a formal dining room with mahogany woodwork, a master suite that includes a full-wall marble fireplace, a domed ceiling, octagon inlaid Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, and a marble bathroom with a huge jacuzzi tub; there’s a ballroom, seven bedrooms, nine baths, two media rooms, and a mosaic-tiled 1,000-square-foot indoor pool with a cedar hardwood ceiling and sauna. A river-front glass elevator spans the home’s four levels. And that’s all on more than an acre of wooded land—including 85 feet of shoreline.

612 Rivercrest Rd. is listed for $13.5 million. Then on June 23, the home hits the auction block, with no minimum bid. Take a look inside below, then go to Concierge Auctions for more details.

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Posted at 11:52 AM/ET, 05/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Join Washingtonian and Bozzuto for the grand opening of Cathedral Commons. By Emma Foehringer Merchant

On May 27, join Washingtonian and the Bozzuto Group for the grand opening of Cathedral Commons, located in Cathedral Heights. The building has rooftop terraces, a 24/7 concierge, a fitness center, and other amenities. During the celebration guests can explore the new space and partake in light appetizers and drinks.

Cathedral Commons, 3401 Idaho Ave., NW; 877-289-5833.

Posted at 03:44 PM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Affordable-ish apartments in one of the city’s priciest neighborhoods. By Michelle Thomas
Live in this beautiful 1925 Beaux Arts building in Kalorama for $569,000.

Though Kalorama may be best known for some majorly luxe mansions—this $5.95 million stunner comes to mind—ambassador-worthy estates aren't the only way to get a place with the neighborhood's signature Beaux Arts beauty. Here, three under-$600,000 condos that feature plenty of historic charm:

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 05/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
$1.395 million buys you this magical, magical street address. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph courtesy of Long & Foster.

When it comes to street names, DC isn’t exactly bursting with creatively titled roadways. You got your alphabet streets, your numbered streets, your state-name avenues … and Unicorn Lane. Yup.

Hiding in Northwest DC, sandwiched between the unassuming Oregon Avenue and the ho-hum 31st Street, is the whimsically dubbed little loop-de-loop. Apparently the neighborhood comes complete with a statue of the mystical creature. And it’s only a half-mile from Jumpin’ Jack Spring, because obviously.

If Unicorn Lane sounds exactly like the address your inner seven-year-old has always dreamed of, now’s your chance to snap up one of the neighborhood’s brick townhomes. 2711 Unicorn Lane NW is on the market for $1.395 million, a drop from its original price of $1.5 million when it was first listed last May.

As for the home itself: It's a large six-bedroom, six-bath 1973 townhouse in serious need of an update. It features remarkably ugly carpeting. But bragging rights to one of the city’s best addresses has got to be worth something, right?

Head to Long & Foster for more details and a full tour.

Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 04/14/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This luxury DC building will make you feel better about your rent—but probably a lot worse about your decor. By Marisa M. Kashino
All photos by Sam Kittner.

Think your rent is high? Apartments at The Woodley, managed by the Bozzuto Group, go for up to $12,000 a month—a figure that raised some eyebrows last summer when the super luxe 212-unit building opened to residents, becoming one of the most expensive apartment complexes in Washington. Eight months later, only about 30 percent of the building at 2700 Woodley Road in—you guessed it—Woodley Park is leased. According to its website, Bozzuto is offering a month of free rent to new residents, or to pay for moving costs. Management says many of the current residents are international. And apparently some are just international travelers—on the afternoon we visited, a reception was under way in the lobby for a US ambassador who lives in one of the penthouses.

Not every unit goes for five figures. Studios start at $2,700 a month, and living in the building comes with plenty of perks. There’s an infinity pool, an expansive roof deck, and a concierge at your beck and call 24 hours a day. Here’s a look inside the two-bedroom, two-bathroom model unit, decorated by Hartman Design Group.

Posted at 02:54 PM/ET, 04/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This four-bedroom in Logan Circle recently underwent a modern-luxe renovation. By Michelle Thomas

Homes selling within days of going on the market is a oft-relayed piece of DC real estate lore, but it always begs the question: What’s the magic behind a lightening-speed sale? For this Logan Circle rowhouse—listed at $1.35 million on Thursday and under contract by Saturdaythe appeal is obvious, thanks to a gorgeous renovation of the 1900 home by Arlington-based development firm Realington. The place is like a checklist of coveted design features, including a contemporary textured white fireplace, floating ceilings, exposed brick walls, white-washed hardwood floors, bay picture windows, luxe lighting fixtures, marble counters, and a stunning rain shower/soaking tub combo in the master bath. Take a peek inside 1414 Columbia St. NW below, and see the rest of the photos here.

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Posted at 12:09 PM/ET, 04/06/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Move over, schoolhouses. By Michelle Thomas
Georgetown's Alexander Hall.

In recent years, it seemed like every DC developer was busy converting an out-of-use historic schoolhouse into luxury condos. The Gage School turned into Parker Flats. Georgetown’s Wormley School became high-end Wormley Row. On Capitol Hill, the Edmonds, Pierce, and Lovejoy schoolhouses all were upcycled into chic apartments. And so on—at last count, there are at least ten of these transformations around town.

Perhaps they've run out of old schools, because we've moved into the next phase of repurposed real estate: Churches. Two weeks ago we showed you this old Howard County church that was rehabbed into the headquarters for an interior design firm. Last week this Georgetown Tudor, once a neighborhood chapel, hit the market in its new iteration as a multi-million-dollar residence. And then there are two new projects that are still in the works: In Capitol Hill, a former Art Deco church constructed in 1941 by the Salvation Army is part of a project dubbed Cambridge Row, which features petite condos—some as tiny as 264 square feet—outfitted with contemporary amenities such as wide-plank hardwoods, high-gloss cabinets, and quartz counters. Over in Georgetown is Alexander Hall, which will restore and convert the 1908 Alexander Memorial Baptist Church into a trio of über-luxe apartments set to deliver in the fall—and which will include such high-end detailing as open-tread staircases, whitewashed hardwood floors, top-of-the-line appliances, and Porcelanosa tiling. The three-bedroom condos start at $2.5 million. Still unknown is whether the developer will need divine intervention to snag those prices.

Capitol Hill's Cambridge Row.

Posted at 12:06 PM/ET, 03/31/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A contemporary Shaw condo, a classic Capitol Hill rowhouse, and a charming Kalorama apartment—all under $800,000. By Michelle Thomas

Shaw

Where: 1523 3rd St. NW #2

How much: $699,900

When: Sunday, 1 to 3 PM

Why: Those exposed brick walls. The floating staircase. The kitchen's marbled waterfall island and two-tone cabinetry. The bay windows. And it has a private roof deck!

Kalorama

Where: 2311 Connecticut Ave. NW #705

How much: $699,000

When: Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 4 PM

Why: This two-bed, two-bath condo is in a tony Beaux Arts building, and it comes with the requisite architectural charm, including crown molding, cool shelving above the double-wide doors, a tastefully renovated kitchen, and a gorgeous, vintage-y marble master bath.

Capitol Hill

Where: 307 E St. NE

How much: $769,000

When: Saturday, 1 to 3 PM, and Sunday, 1 to 4 PM

Why: This quaint 1890s rowhouse was renovated in 2008 to include such updates as contemporary baths and a sleek fireplace, plus it features exposed brick, a cute brick patio out back, and a bonus lofted studio space.

Posted at 09:15 AM/ET, 03/27/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Competition is intense in these Zip codes. Here's what makes them so desirable. By Marisa M. Kashino, Harrison Smith
This six-bedroom in Chevy Chase went for $2.2 million. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Though Washington’s real-estate market was less frenzied in 2014—with 6 percent fewer sales than in 2013—there’s no question we still live in a seller’s paradise, where low inventory often pushes buyers to extremes. We all know the stories: The friend who bid up a property’s asking price by tens of thousands and waived a home inspection. The coworker who landed a dozen offers after the first open house. The neighbors who sold for 25 percent more than they paid three years ago.

While sales may have slowed last year, 2015 is off to a healthy start. According to the analytics firm RealEstate Business Intelligence—which supplied all the data for this report—both the total number of transactions and median prices were up this January and February compared to last. And with spring finally here, the market is sure to get hotter.

Where You’ll Pay the Most

These six neighborhoods boast the priciest homes in Washington—though interest in some may be waning.

This 10,000-square-foot house in Great Falls sold in August for $2.75 million. Photograph by HomeVisit.

Great Falls (22066)
Median sales price: $1,112,500.

While the number of sales in the well-heeled Fairfax County suburb fell by 30 percent, the homes that did sell made Great Falls the only local Zip code with a median price above $1 million in 2014. The sluggish sales volume, says real-estate agent Debbie McGuire, may reflect an aging inventory. While new homes go for upward of $1.8 million, many slightly more affordable options ($1.3 million to $1.6 million) were built in the ’90s and have had few updates, according to McGuire: “Buyers just aren’t interested.”

McLean (22101)
Median sales price: $960,000.

Already sought after for its schools and proximity to DC, McLean could see even more demand this year thanks to last summer’s opening of Metro’s Silver Line. Agent Barbara Lewis says “inventory is tightening up” for homes under $1 million, and more buyers and builders are looking for properties to tear down and rebuild from scratch. Prices have held steady, appreciating just 1 percent last year.

Chevy Chase, DC (20015)
Median sales price: $925,000.

After more than 11 percent appreciation last year, prices in this Montgomery County nieghborhood have surpassed their 2006 peak. According to agent Melinda Eestridge, demand has largely been driven by a desire for convenience—the Zip code is close to Rock Creek Park, the Red Line, and plenty of shopping. It also boasts a mix of historic homes and luxury condominiums.

Georgetown (20007)
Median sales price: $900,000.

Though the neighborhood’s 2014 median price remained unchanged from 2013, Georgetown is still a seller’s market and one of the most desirable Zip codes in the District. Among last year’s biggest transactions: the Williams-Addison House, a nine-bed, 13-bath mansion on 31st Street that sold for $16.1 million, beating out any other DC home in 2014.

Chevy Chase (20815)
Median sales price: $899,000.

After more than 11 percent appreciation last year, prices in this Montgomery County neighborhood have surpassed their 2006 peak. According to agent Melinda Estridge, demand has largely been driven by a desire for convenience—the Zip code is close to Rock Creek Park, the Red Line, and plenty of shopping. It also boasts a mix of historic homes and luxury condominiums.

Potomac (20854)
Median sales price: $888,000.

Montgomery County's land of sprawling mansions continues to draw interest due to attractive schools, the sheer size of its homes, and their relative seclusion. But the number of sales fell by 6 percent in 2014, adn the median price took a slight, 2.4-percent dip, too. As more urban-feeling environments, the trend could continue. Says Estridge: "People would rather have something closer in."

Where Your Dollar Won’t Stretch

Price per square foot is arguably the real way to determine which neighborhoods are the most expensive. Here’s where you’ll get the least space for your money.

Selling for $1.75 million, this Adams Morgan row house almost hit its $1.8-million asking price. Photograph by David Pipkin.

Adams Morgan/U Street (20009)
Median price per square foot: $594.

Prices stayed relatively stagnant last year, but this sprawling Zip code—which also includes parts of Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights—remains one of DC’s most expensive. Row-house renovations and continued con-do development, particularly on 14th Street, helped give the area more sales (928) than anywhere else in the city.

West End (20037)
Median price per square foot: $675.

Even with sales volume down by 22 percent, price per square foot jumped $35 in the fashionable neighborhood west of downtown DC. Prices are buoyed by the ultra-luxe condos favored by international buyers, such as the Ritz-Carlton Residences, though older Foggy Bottom rowhouses are also included in the Zip code.

Dupont/Downtown DC (20036)
Median price per square foot: $563.

Don’t let the area’s relatively low median price of $330,000 fool you. Residences in this apartment-and-office-heavy Zip code tend toward the tiny, which ex-plains the hefty price per square foot. The area seems a perfect fit for the 90 micro-units (all 400 square feet or less) that it’s slated to get with the conversion of Dupont Circle’s Patterson Mansion.

Logan Circle (20005)
Median price per square foot: $632.

Though there’s no question Logan is one of DC’s trendiest neighborhoods, the amount of competition here can surprise even experienced agents. Kevin Wood listed a house on Wallach Place late last year for just under $1.2 million. “I didn’t intentionally price it low,” the agent says. “We looked at the comps, and that’s what we thought it would sell for.” He was wrong. Three cash offers immediately came in, and the 1,500-square-foot rowhouse sold for $1.3 million.

Georgetown (20007)
Median price per square foot: $598.

Georgetown is still a seller’s market and one of the most desirable Zip codes in the District. Among last year’s biggest transactions: the Williams-Addison House, a nine-bed, 13-bath mansion on 31st Street that sold for $16.1 million, beating out any other DC home in 2014.

Where Homes Sell Fast

Properties spent the fewest days on the market in these areas—so if you spot a house you want, act quickly.

It's no wonder why this Chevy Chase home sold for $1.19 million--families love the neighborhood for its schools and tree-lined streets. Photograph by Rina Kunk.

Chevy Chase, DC (20015)
Median days on market: 9.

For families wanting the space and tranquility of suburban life along with the amenities and proximity of urban life, it’s tough to beat this tree-lined Zip code with attractive schools. Some houses are grand—one reason the neighborhood is among the area’s priciest—and even modest homes attract intense interest. Agent Heather Davenport had a client last year who had to face off with 12 other buyers for “a starter house.” Her client won, but not without going $112,000 above list price and waiving a home inspection.

Arlington (22205)
Median days on market: 7.

There are a number of reasons this Zip code remains among the most desirable in Washington. Compared with other areas in expensive North Arlington, the housing here covers a range of prices, says agent Joy Deevy, from townhouses for less than $600,000 to new single-family homes for around $1.6 million. Buyers flock to the Zip code’s especially popular Westover neighborhood for its walkability to restaurants and shopping.

Del Ray (22301)
Median days on market: 7.

In addition to Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood—with a quaint Main Street America-style commercial strip, making it a big draw for families—the Zip code also includes Rosemont, a neighborhood within walking distance of Old Town Alexandria, and Potomac Yard, a brand-new development of condos and townhouses, with a Metro stop in the works. Add all these things up and it’s no wonder competition is stiff when properties become available.

Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant (20010)
Median days on market: 8.

The number of sales here rocketed 32 percent in 2014, and on average, properties went for more than their asking price. One contributor to the Zip code’s continued rise: the fact that Columbia Heights’ commercial corridor is no longer dominated by big-box chains on 14th Street—the growing district of bars and restaurants along 11th Street to the east has made the neighborhood even more attractive. And as prices directly to the south in Logan Circle and the U Street corridor get more astronomical, agent Kevin Wood says more of his clients are focusing on 20010.

Navy Yard/Eastern Market (20003)
Median days on market: 9.

Navy Yard, the Southeast DC neighborhood near Nationals Park, feels like a new city, with its luxury condo and apartment buildings, restaurants, and beautiful Yards Park—a public space finally allowing residents to take advantage of the Anacostia riverfront. The Zip code also includes Eastern Market and two other Metro stops—Capitol South and Potomac Avenue—adding to its allure for commuters. With nearly 2,000 more residential units being built, the neighborhood seems poised for even more growth.

Logan Circle (20005)
Median days on market: 9.

Though there’s no question Logan is one of DC’s trendiest neighborhoods, the amount of competition here can surprise even experienced agents. Kevin Wood listed a house on Wallach Place late last year for just under $1.2 million. “I didn’t intentionally price it low,” the agent says. “We looked at the comps, and that’s what we thought it would sell for.” He was wrong. Three cash offers immediately came in, and the 1,500-square-foot rowhouse sold for $1.3 million.

Where Prices are on the Rise

These neighborhoods—all areas where flippers and homebuyers can still expect a healthy return on their investment—saw double-digit increases in 2014.

The median sales price in Riverdale climbed by almost 30 percent last year. Photograph by Gloria Rojas/Fairfax Realty.

Riverdale (20737)
One-year price growth: 28.9 percent. Median sales price: $205,000.

Once over-shadowed by neighboring Hyattsville and College Park, this Zip code—which contains most of River-dale Park and East Riverdale—is beginning to boom. Helping to fuel the uptick is a $250-million mixed-use development—which will be anchored by the first Whole Foods in Prince George’s County—as well as the prospect of a Purple Line Metro stop (although that part is far from certain).

Landover (20785)
One-year price growth: 27.3 percent. Median sales price: $168,000.

Despite huge appreciation, the median price in this Prince George’s Zip code is nearly $60,000 cheaper than in nearby Hyattsville, a sign that there’s still a lot of investment potential here. “Inventory is extremely low,” says real-estate agent Ann Barrett, and development projects along Route 202 will likely spur additional demand. The FBI is also considering relocating its headquarters to the Ted Lerner-owned Landover Mall site, which would bring 11,000 employees to the neighborhood.

District Heights (20747)
One-year price growth: 26.9 percent. Median sales price: $165,000.

Though sales in the area, which includes District Heights and Forestville, declined 19 percent, prices rose 27 percent, with new homes in the Prince George’s Zip code approaching $400,000. Realtor Irene Smith says more young families are moving to the suburb, drawn to its convenient location—midway between Metro’s Blue and Green lines, just off the Beltway and Suitland Parkway—and its historic houses.

Brentwood (20722)
One-year price growth: 22.1 percent. Median sales price: $197,500.

As part of the Gateway Arts District in Prince George’s County, a half mile from the DC line, Brentwood has seen renewed interest from developers catering to its young residents. Agent Ed Haraway says young buyers are drawn to this and other areas along the Route 1 corridor (where Rhode Island Avenue exits DC) because they’re reasonably priced and a short drive to the District. Though on average, houses in Brentwood are going for more than list price, buyers can still find affordable single-family homes.

Anacostia/Hillcrest (20020)
One-year price growth: 21 percent. Median sales price: $242,000.

Sales volume increased by nearly 20 percent in 2014, and particularly in Anacostia’s historic district, bidding wars have become an expected part of the homebuying process. Why is the neighborhood so hot? “It’s the last affordable area in DC,” says broker Darrin Davis. In addition to the spurt of rehabs among the aging houses, new condos along Suitland Parkway are filling up. For now, says Duane Gautier, CEO of Anacostia’s nonprofit ARCH Development Corporation, “the supply is there” to support newcomers. In three to five years, however, that could change.

Senior editor Marisa M. Kashino can be reached at mkashino@washingtonian.com. Editorial fellow Harrison Smith is at hsmith@washingtonian.com.

This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 03/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
And now it costs nearly $4 million. By Michelle Thomas

If you've secretly always wanted to live in a church—and you also have nearly $4 million to burn—here's your chance. For 80-plus years, this 1855 Tudor was known as the Market Street Chapel to its Georgetown neighbors. Then in the 1930s, it was redeveloped into a residence, and in 2012 underwent a complete renovation to end up the place it is today—a five-bedroom, four-bath home with an in-law suite, a contemporary kitchen, two separately deeded garages, and a rare side garden that connects to the the rear patio. Architectural features include wooden beams and accents, a huge arched window, and, of course, cathedral ceilings.

1552 33rd Street NW is listed at $3.895 million. See inside below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for more details.

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Posted at 12:11 PM/ET, 03/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()