What Do You Get For…
$500,000, $750,000, $1 Million-plus and $2 Million-plus
Location. Location. Location. It’s the biggest cliché in real estate, but it happens to be true. The location of your home determines many facets of your lifestyle—where your children go to school, the commute to work, if you can walk out the door to restaurants and shopping and, most importantly, your mortgage. In Montgomery County, prices don’t just vary from community to community, but also from neighborhood to neighborhood, and block to block.
They vary for a number of reasons, including the school district and the proximity to entertainment and shopping centers, recreation, public transportation, and highways and major thoroughfares (you want to be close, but not too close). We’ve examined sales prices in four areas during the last eight months to provide a quick guide to what you can get for your money and where.
What you get for…$500,000
It seems crazy, but this price range is entry-level in lower Montgomery County. Even so, there are still neighborhoods that are affordable and offer a good value. This cute split-level may be 45 years old, but it’s in great shape and in a good location. Manor Woods is a well-maintained neighborhood with a variety of home styles. It’s close to schools, shopping, parks and the Rockville and Twinbrook Metro stations. This house has five bedrooms, two and a half baths, and sits on a quarter-acre lot. It was listed for $439,000 and sold for $430,000. What a bargain!
In this price range in downtown Bethesda, we’re talking condominiums. This unit, in a 5-year-old luxury high-rise, is 939 square feet and has one bedroom and two baths. A monthly HOA fee of just under $600 takes care of many of the building services, including underground parking and a gym, but the building lacks a doorman. It was listed at $535,000 and sold for $530,000. Because it’s on the southern end of Wisconsin Avenue, it’s cheaper than luxury condos to the north, closer to the Metro and other amenities. Prices there start around $650,000.
It’s tough to find something with a Potomac address in this price range. Listed at $515,000 and sold for $498,500, this 40-year-old condominium is 1,565 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and requires a semiannual HOA fee of $332. There are a lot of affordable condos in this part of the county, west of Westfield Montgomery mall off Democracy Boulevard. It’s not the horse country we think of in Potomac, but it’s convenient to I-270 and bus lines and gets buyers in the sought-after Winston Churchill High School cluster.
There are several luxury buildings near Friendship Heights, but for a more reasonable price, you’ll have to go a little farther out. This condo in a 30-year-old building on Connecticut Avenue is spacious, at 1,800 square feet, with high ceilings, a separate dining room, a balcony and lots of storage. The two-bedroom, two-bath unit was listed at $565,000 and sold for a little less at $550,000. It has an annual HOA fee of $987 that includes parking. It isn’t close to the action in downtown Bethesda, but it is within walking distance of the Chevy Chase Supermarket and the Capital Crescent Trail.
What you get for…$750,000
It is possible to get a house in Chevy Chase for under $1 million—you just have to go east. This cool, 1977 contemporary, set on a quarter acre in the Dunlop Hills neighborhood overlooking Rock Creek Park, actually sold for more than the asking price. Listed at $750,000, the four-bedroom, two-bath house went for $809,000. This area is a couple of miles from downtown Bethesda, but the park is a major amenity. A unique house in a good location and a good public school district (the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School cluster) is a find regardless of the market, but it has to be properly priced from the start.
Single-family homes in this price range are going to be little farther from downtown Bethesda, just inside or outside the Beltway. This solid-brick split-level with an addition was listed for $775,000 and sold for $755,000. Not a bad deal, given the location near the Wildwood Shopping Center, Westfield Montgomery mall and I-270. Plus, it’s in the Walter Johnson High School cluster. With 2,300 square feet, five bedrooms, two and a half baths, and on a quarter acre, the same house in a closer-in neighborhood, such as Kenwood, would cost $850,000 to $900,000.
Good schools and large lots are the draw in Potomac, according to local real estate agents. In this price range, though, buyers will have to be content with a house built in the 1960s or ’70s that may need updating. This four-bedroom, three-bathroom, brick colonial in the Roberts Glen subdivision was built in 1971. It’s 2,325 square feet and set on almost a half acre. Originally listed at $750,000, it sold for just under $720,000.
Couples who have children and are looking to move up from a starter home have plenty of choices in Rockville. As in Potomac, however, houses in this price range are a few decades old. Listed at $745,000 and selling for $725,000, this 2,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath house is more than 40 years old. But its location is a major asset: It’s set on almost a quarter acre on a cul-de-sac in the desirable Montrose Woods neighborhood, close to Farmland Elementary School, I-270, and shops and restaurants on Rockville Pike.