Multimillion-dollar home sales are now the norm in many areas of Northern Virginia, but they always weren’t.
For this quarterly real estate guide, the Sun Gazette asked some of the region’s top real estate professionals to recall their first million-dollar sale.
Here are their answers.
Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “My first million dollar home sale was an ad in my Lyon Park neighborhood. It was my first year in the business in 2013. The house was a rental house, filled with Ultimate Frisbee players, including my daughter. The owners, whom I knew from the neighborhood, were moving. I remember having to redecorate the house and get it ready for sale, including removing pull-up bars on the doors. We didn’t stage the house, which would be unheard of right now. Sold within a week.”
Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “It was in 1987 and I was 28 years old. It was a new spec home on Potomac River Road in McLean and sold for $1.5 million 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 sales at the time was about $100,000 or less. That $1.5 million sale gave me the strength to think I could make it in this business.”
Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “A handyman told me about a small house on a half-acre property on Rock Spring Road in Arlington that the owner wanted a million dollars for. It was almost the end of the Clinton administration and I was representing a buyer living abroad. He moved back to the area and wanted to buy a lot to build a big house. He bought the property for just over a million, tore down the existing house and built a much larger house. Now it’s worth $5 million.”
Craig Burns, The Redux Group: “I remember the first sale of a million dollar home as an added responsibility as a listing agent. The house was abandoned after my clients moved, and with weekly storms I felt a responsibility to check the interior and exterior of the house and make sure the lawn was maintained. I thought it best to let the buyers move into their million dollar home with a freshly mowed lawn and a freshly cleaned house. I also took weekly photos and sent them to both the sellers and the buyer’s broker to reassure them that the house was in order.”
Dawn Wilson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “It was many years ago in North Arlington. It was a new build, charming house that was perfect for my clients. The layout was so logical. It was located on a quiet street with a nice garden. I remember one of the bedrooms had the most adorable little chandelier. My clients’ children were young then and are all grown up now. I smile every time I think of my clients raising their families there and enjoying that house for all those years.”
Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “It was a beautiful new house, but it felt like something was needed. I asked a local gallery in Vienna to bring some beautiful pieces and hang them at home. They looked great and gave the house a modern look. The builder’s wife told us to tear them down and we did, but not before a buyer loved them, bought the house and wanted some of the pieces. In normal markets, which this isn’t, people think million dollar homes are harder to sell, but that’s not true. High-tech companies on the West Coast have brought a lot more money into the buyer’s pool. As long as the house is prepared and priced correctly, buyers will fight for it.”
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 within the ring road on Crest Lane in McLean overlooking the river. The buyer wanted a million dollar house in that area overlooking the river, but I didn’t know if that existed. I took the challenge and found that house for him. It was my first million dollar house and it felt good to hit such a milestone. It’s like running a 4-minute mile for the first time.”
David Howell, McEnearney: “Ironically, I was emailing the CEO of NVAR and jotting down the days when we measured the supply of million-dollar homes on the market in years, not months or even weeks. In Great Falls alone, it was not uncommon to see several million dollar homes on the market. 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 worked with a very kind and gracious and experienced professional woman. Her husband was an artist and the buyers were musicians. So the area around the house was very quiet. The house was sold for $1.3 million. That showed me that I could do it, and also that I could work with an experienced person. Overall it 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 glamour. I was lucky 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 buyers who already lived in Great Falls and wanted a larger property with a stream and separate living quarters for their widowed father who was going to live with them. I sold their existing house in Great Falls. They sold the house because they were retiring and leaving the area.”
Eli Tucker, Eli Residential Group: “I remember worrying that somehow it would be a different experience to trade in a larger transaction, but then I realized all the same principles applied. “
Rob Ferguson, RE/MAX Allegiance: “I remember my first sale was $95,000 in Herndon. If you sold $10,000,000 worth of real estate in the 90s, that was a huge deal. I believe my first million dollar home in North Arlington was in the 22213 zip code. It was a new house and the builder had built it to specifications, and my clients moved from outside the area. It was a while ago so I don’t remember much, but it sure 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 breakdown transaction we did about six years ago. It was all the more remarkable because it involved a fairly small (1/7 acre) lot in Lyon Village. Seeing this got us so interested that we developed a specific specialty to help clients sell their homes to builders.”
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