News & Politics

Top House Sales in 2007

Inside the year’s biggest home sales, including the record-breaking Herb Miller/Robert Allbritton deal

Photograph courtesy of Randall Hagner Real Estate.

In a year of really big home sales, one dwarfed the rest—and said a lot about the state of the real-estate market.

The Bowie-Sevier house—a Georgetown mansion that dates to the early 19th century—sold for $24 million, shattering the record for the most expensive home sale in DC by $10 million. Two of the city’s richest men struck this deal: Developer Herbert Miller sold the home to media entrepreneur Robert Allbritton.

Agent Mary Grover Ehrgood, who brokered the sale, says Washington’s ultra-high-end real-estate market is flourishing. This year, for example, eight sales broke the $7-million threshold in DC, six more than in 2006.

In 2005, AOL mogul Steve Case paid $24.5 million for Merrywood, the McLean childhood home of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

A home can command top dollar, Ehrgood says, “when the buyer perceives that the property is ‘best in class.’ ” In addition to a prime location and estatelike site, this can mean historic significance, sweeping water views, or the imprint of a famous architect. Ehrgood says that in the very upper bracket, buyers also want grand rooms for entertaining.

As prices push higher, the definition of luxury is changing. Upscale amenities such as granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances have become commonplace. Two million dollars today may get you a very nice five-bedroom home in Chevy Chase or Great Falls, but nothing extravagant.

This year saw an explosion of high-end sales in Kalorama, the DC neighborhood next to Embassy Row. The area has been undervalued for years, Ehrgood says, and buyers can get more space for the money in Kalorama than in Georgetown.

Here are some of the year’s biggest deals involving boldface names:

Sellers: Real-estate developer Herb Miller and his wife, Patrice

Buyers: Media mogul Robert Allbritton and wife Elena, a dermatologist

Price: $24 million

Neighborhood: Georgetown.

The Millers—Herb developed Georgetown Park, Washington Harbour, and the Gallery Place complex next to Verizon Center—spent years restoring the seven-bedroom, 12-bath home (and eight-car garage) before selling it. Allbritton owns Channel 7 and NewsChannel 8 and publishes Politico.

Sellers: Stars of the “Plamegate” scandal, Joseph and Valerie Plame Wilson

Price: $1.8 million

Neighborhood: Foxhall, DC

Five bedrooms, views of the Washington Monument, library.

Buyers: Lobbyist Tony Podesta and his wife, Heather

Price: $3.9 million

Neighborhood: Kalorama, DC

Eight bedrooms, seven baths, pool, 12-zone stereo

Seller: Media mogul Robert Allbritton

Price: $4.7 million

Neighborhood: Kalorama, DC.

Buyer: Redskins tight end Chris Cooley

Price: $2.9 million

Neighborhood: Leesburg.

Seller: Discovery Communications founder and chair John Hendricks

Price: $3.5 million

Neighborhood: Potomac

Six bedrooms, seven baths, seven fireplaces, tennis court, pool, cabana.

Buyers: George Washington University’s former president Stephen Trachtenberg and his wife, Francine

Price: $2.4 million

Neighborhood: Kalorama, DC

The home has a rooftop terrace with monument views and an elevator.

Buyer: Lisa DiMonte, president of L.A.D. Reporting, a court-reporting and videography firm in DC.

Price: $5.4 million

Neighborhood: Great Falls

Buyers: New York Times journalist Jason DeParle and his wife, healthcare expert Nancy-Ann

Price: $3 million

Neighborhood: Chevy Chase

Seller: Former senator Bill Frist

Price: $7.4 million

Neighborhood: Massachusetts Avenue Heights, DC

Six bedrooms, seven baths, pool

Sellers: White House counsel Fred Fielding and his wife, Maria

Price: $1.8 million

Neighborhood: Country Club Hills, Arlington

Five bedrooms, six baths, embassy-size entertaining rooms

Buyers: Bart Gordon, a congressman from Tennessee, and his wife, headhunter Leslie Peyton Gordon of Korn/Ferry International

Price: $3.8 million

Neighborhood: Kalorama, DC

Seven bedrooms, eight baths, dining room that seats 20, nine skylights, five fireplaces, pool

Buyer: Commercial real-estate executive Stephen Conley of the Washington office of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler

Price: $5.4 million

Neighborhood: Chevy Chase

Buyer: Oakland Raiders running back LaMont Jordan

Price: $2 million

Neighborhood: Woodmore Acres, Bowie

Seven bedrooms, seven baths, two-story marble foyer, theater room, exercise room, elevator, three wet bars

Buyer: Anthony Piszel, Freddie Mac’s chief financial officer

Price: $3.6 million

Neighborhood: Great Falls

On five acres, the house overlooks a lake and has a floating staircase, a four-car garage, and two kitchens.

Seller: Washington Life founder Vicki Bagley

Buyers: Bagley’s daughter and son-in-law—Nancy Bagley, the magazine’s editor, and Soroush Shehabi, its chief executive officer

Price: $2.8 million

Neighborhood: Kalorama, DC

The District’s assessed value for the house is $4.4 million.