Million-dollar home sales are now the norm in many areas of Northern Virginia, but that always wasn’t the case.
For this quarterly real-estate guide, the Sun Gazette asked some of the region’s top real-estate professionals to remember back to their first million-dollar sale.
Here are their answers.
Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “My first million-dollar house sale was a listing in my Lyon Park neighborhood. It was my first year in the business in 2013. The house was a rental, full of Ultimate Frisbee players, one of whom was my daughter. The owners, who I knew from the neighborhood, were moving out of the area. I remember having to get the house fixed up and ready for sale, including removing pull-up fitness bars on the doors. We did not stage the home, which would be unheard of now. It sold in less than a week.”
Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “It was in 1987 and I was 28 years old. It was a new spec house on Potomac River Road in McLean and sold for $1.5 million, back then when people had a lot of money. I approached the builder about selling the house because I had a buyer who was interested. My average sale at the time back then was about $100,000 or less. That sale of $1.5 million empowered me to think I could make it in this business.”
Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “A handyman told me about a small house on a one-acre lot on Rock Spring Road in Arlington that the owner wanted a million dollars for. It was near the end of the Clinton administration and I was representing a buyer who lived out of the country. He was moving back to the area and wanted to buy a lot to build a big house. He bought the property for a little more than a million, tore down the existing house and built a much bigger one. Now it’s worth $5 million.”
Craig Burns, The Redux Group: “I remember the first million-dollar home sale as an extra added responsibility as the listing agent. The home had been vacated after my clients had moved out, and with weekly storms, I felt the responsibility to check out the interior and exterior of the house, as well as ensure the lawn was being taken care of. It just seemed like the best thing to do was to have the buyers move into their million-dollar home with a freshly-cut lawn and freshly-cleaned home. I also took weekly pictures and sent them to both the sellers and the buyer’s agent to assure them the house was OK.”
Dawn Wilson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “It was many years ago in North Arlington. It was a new-build, charming home that was perfect for my clients. The layout made so much sense. It was located on a quiet street with a nice yard. I remember one of the bedrooms had the most adorable little chandelier in it. My clients’ children were young then and are now all grown. I smile every time I think about my clients raising their family there and enjoying that home all of these years.”
Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “It was a nice new home, but felt like it needed something. I asked a local Vienna gallery to bring over some nice pieces and hang them in the home. They looked great and brought a modern appeal to the home. The builder’s wife told us to take them down and we did, but not before a buyer loved them, bought the home and wanted some of the pieces. In normal markets, which this is not one, people think million-dollar homes are tougher to sell, but that’s not true. High-tech, West Coast companies have brought a lot more money into the buyer pool. As long as the home is prepared and priced correctly, buyers will fight for them.”
Karen Briscoe, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams: “It was 20 years ago in my first year selling residential real estate. It was a property inside the Beltway on Crest Lane in McLean with a view of the river. The buyer wanted a million-dollar property in that area with a river view, but I didn’t know if that existed. I accepted the challenge and found him that home. It was my first million-dollar home and that felt good to achieve such a milestone. It’s like running a 4-minute mile for the first time.”
David Howell, McEnearney: “Ironically, I was emailing with NVAR’s CEO noting the days when we measured the supply of million-dollar homes on the market in terms of years, not months or even weeks. It wasn’t unusual to have a few million-dollar homes on the market in Great Falls alone. Today there are 32.”
Lizzy Conroy, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group, Keller Williams: “It was my first year in residential real estate. It was a very special transaction [in 2010], because I got a referral from a family friend. I was the seller and working with a very kind and gracious and accomplished professional woman. Her husband was an artist and the buyers were musicians. So the setting of the home was very peaceful. The home sold for $1.3 million. That showed me I could do it, as well as work with an accomplished person. The whole thing was an excellent experience.”
Mark Middendorf, Long & Foster: “The first million-dollar transaction I had was in 1996. It opened up a whole new world of luxury homes and glamor. I was so fortunate that my clients were the nicest couple in the world. When it comes down to it, I handled it like any other transaction.”
Marty Merriam, Long & Foster: “I represented the buyers who were already living in Great Falls and wanted a larger property with a stream and separate living space for their widowed father, who would be living with them. I sold their existing Great Falls home. They sold the home because they retired and moved out of the area.”
Eli Tucker, Eli Residential Group: “I remember worrying that it was going to somehow be a different experience dealing in a larger transaction, but realizing that, all of the same principles applied.”
Rob Ferguson, RE/MAX Allegiance: “I remember my first sale was $95,000 in Herndon. Back in the ‘90s if you sold $10,000,000 worth of real estate, that was a huge deal. I believe my first million-dollar home was in North Arlington in the 22213 zip code. It was a new house and the builder had built it on spec, and my clients were moving from out of the area. It was a while ago, so I do not remember a lot, but it certainly was a big deal at the time. “
Dick Nathan and Cody Chance, Long & Foster: “More memorable than our first million-dollar sale was the first million-dollar tear-down transaction that we did about six years ago. It was all the more remarkable as it was for quite a small lot (1/7 acre) in Lyon Village. Seeing this got us interested to the point where we developed a particular specialty in helping clients sell their homes to builders.”