Real Estate

Want to Rent a Mansion in Potomac or McLean?

Slower sales in ritzy suburbs means more huge houses are hitting the rental market.
Photograph by Morgan Howarth.

Jared and Ivanka rent. So does D.C. United’s newest star, Wayne Rooney. After they left the White House, the Obamas did, too. Washington’s steady stream of upper-crust transients—diplomats, political appointees, international executives—means renting here isn’t just for recent college grads looking for a deal on an English basement. And while you’re not likely to find a 10,000-square-footer with a saltwater pool on Craigslist, mansions for rent are easier to come by than you might think.

Real-estate agents say some of those properties are available because there are more frustrated sellers in places such as Potomac and Great Falls, where MTV Cribs–worthy pads aren’t the hot commodities they once were. (In Potomac and Great Falls last year, houses spent an average of 93 days on the market; in McLean, they sat for 73 days. The average for all of Washington was just 58 days.)

“People who bought homes in Potomac for $4 million in 2005 to 2007 that are now valued in the upper-$2-million range sometimes decide to rent for a while, especially if they can cover their costs,” says Kara Sheehan of Washington Fine Properties.

“For most owners, renting is the second choice,” says Fouad Talout, a Long & Foster agent in McLean. “But for the right price and under the right conditions, especially if the tenant will maintain the property, they’ll rent it.”

Recently available spreads include an 8,300-square-foot house near Washington National Cathedral with an elevator and wine cellar for $20,000 a month, a 9,400-square-foot mansion in McLean’s Ballantrae Farms with two kitchens for $18,800, and a 17,500-square-footer on two acres in Potomac for $10,000.

Location—not size—has the biggest influence on price. The farther outside the Beltway, the less likely it is to see monthly rents above $10,000, says Sheehan.

One surprising thing about these homes? Many don’t come furnished, says Brian Ridgway, owner of Executive Housing Consultants in Bethesda, which leases and manages luxury properties. By the time a renter fills up all that square-footage, he or she may never want to leave.

This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Looking to Buy? Get Our Real Estate Newsletter

Looking to buy? Get a weekly list of the DC area’s best houses on the market.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Michele Lerner

Michele Lerner ([email protected]) covers real estate, interior design, and personal finance.