How to avoid the m word


Are you like the rest of us who go weak at the knees at the thought of spending $1 million for anything? Despite all evidence to the contrary, do you persist in believing that $1.99 is infinitely less than $2.00 and that, by the same token, a $999,999 luxury home must be in a completely different, much more modest price range than a $1 million mansion?

If so, you can probably meet your needs in Alexandria. As of July 1, four houses were listed between $999,500 and $999,999. They ranged from a two-year-old luxury townhouse to a 53-year-old stone home with a .53-acre lot.

Now, you would probably think that anyone who can afford to pay $999,999 knows perfectly well that that is only one dollar less than one million. Being a fairly sophisticated lot, their Realtors must certainly be aware of that simple mathematical fact.

Esther Drourr of McEnearney Associates obviously realizes that her $999,900 federal-style end unit costs only $100 less than a seven-figure neighbor in Potomac Greens. Still, she insists that she had a perfectly sensible reason for setting the price where she did.

Whenever we hold an open house, the guest cards ask what the visitors price range is, and the answer is almost always up to a million, she said. It is a comfort zone.

On the other hand, she added that the shoppers who can afford to spend more than $1 million want to see whats available under that limit, since they like bargains as much as the next buyer. What it all comes down to is pricing the property that will attract the most buyers in that price range.

The appeal of the just-under-one-million house might have been put very simply by a luxury boutique owner in McLean. Noting that she always seemed to have a big sale sign in the window, I asked why she had to keep promoting the price cuts to her wealthy clientele. My dear, she answered, in some exasperation, how do you think they got that way?

In the case of Drourrs own luxury listing on Potomac Greens Drive, shoppers can rest assured that they, too, would be getting a bargain. The original owners paid more than $1 million two years ago, when the townhouse was new and real estate was booming.

The red-brick end unit features three bedrooms and 2.5 baths in its 2,712 square feet of living space plus a two-car rear garage. The main floor boasts a stone fireplace and hardwood floors. The master suite occupies the entire third floor, along with the roof garden. The Potomac Greens community center features a swimming pool. The schools are Jefferson-Houston Elementary, George Washington Middle and T.C. Williams High. (Call Esther Drourr at 703-790-9408).

Built in 1955 and priced at $999,999, the costliest house was also the oldest. It also boasted the largest lot, .53 acres. Located on Remington Drive in Mount Vernon Terrace, it also stands as a charming example of the craftsman style, with its rock-and-brick exterior beneath peaked roofs. The three-story home includes six bedrooms, three full baths, two powder rooms, two fireplaces and hardwood floors, plus a two-car front-loading garage. The schools are Washington Mill Elementary, Walt Whitman Middle and Mount Vernon High. (Call Long & Foster at 703-683-0400).

Conversely, another new home is also the least expensive. It is listed at $999,500 on York Road in Bush Hill, with a charming custom stone farmhouse design featuring an expansive front porch. Standing on a 1/3-acre lot with 6,300 square feet of living space, it is the only one of these four dwellings to feature a three-car garage. It also includes six bedrooms, five full baths, a powder room and fireplaces in the family and recreation rooms. The schools are Bush Hill Elementary, Twain Middle and Edison High. Call RE/MAX Allegiance at 703-971-5555.

Listed at $999,900, the other new house displays the enduringly popular classical Colonial style on its .18-acre lot on Taft Avenue in the new Coopers Grove community. This Croftwood model provides 2,939 square feet of living space. Its three stories, include four bedrooms, three full baths and one powder room plus a two-car garage. The schools are Patrick Henry Elementary, Francis C. Hammond Middle and T.C. Williams High.

Call The Manarin Group at McEnearney Realtors, 703-525-1900 for more information.