Sunday, May 31, 2009

7718 Whiterim Terrace - Fawsett Farms Manor - $799,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

Fawsett Farms is a community of single family and attached homes near the intersection of Belmart and McArthur. This is on the Bethesda side of Potomac and is located in the Walt Whitman school cluster.

This is a nice attached town home with contemporary flair. These homes have 3 levels and the community spaces feature cathedral ceilings and good flow.

This home has a nice courtyard entry done in paver stone. It gives a Georgetown feel to the outside which is all brick. The hardwood foyer abuts the kitchen on the right side which is done in elaborate faux finish. You feel as though you are in a Mediterranean home with stone walls and rich colors. The kitchen is nicely equipped with high end appliances and custom tile back splash.

The hardwood flows throughout the first level and leads back to a dining and family room in the back of the home. A door leads out to a deck which has nice views of a communal yard and lots of woods. This would be a nice place to sip coffee in the morning and watch the omnipresent deer nibble the landscape.

The stairwells are elaborately faux painted to bring the Mediterranean design. The upstairs has 2 kid size bedrooms that are also elaborately decorated and painted. The master bedroom has his and her baths. This feature is a trademark of these homes and is quite popular.

The basement has a walkout to the yard, a nice family room and an elaborately decorated office.

This is a nice home, but is very ornate. This will appeal to some and turn off others. Although it may not be to every ones taste, I am sure it was expensive to create. Someone that likes the rich colors and over the top design will get a bargain buying this home.

This home is a bit difficult to see as it is by appointment only. The agent is doing a great job drumming up business, but will need more cooperation from the seller to get it sold. When you have a home that is far away from neutral design, you need to give it great exposure. The more people that see it, the more likely you will find someone that appreciates the decor.

I see this on staying on the market for a while at this price. The last unit sold of similar design settled on 4/17 for $612,000 and more recently another settled on 5/15 for $594,000. In order to get this sold it needs to be repriced around $660K. Above this level, even if it sells, the appraisal will be tough. I'll keep everyone posted of progress.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Letter to Potomac Secret Agent

Dear Potomac Secret Agent;

I live near Persimmon Tree Road , am a professional and generally law-abiding person. I pay my taxes on time and don't generally dabble deeply in politics, particularly at the local level. I've had the same visceral reaction to the speed cameras that you have, and I wanted to compliment you on your initiative and your balanced approach to this issue.

There's a lot of silly hypocrisy out there on both sides of this issue: those attacking the practice of speed cameras are complaining about due process (I'm a lawyer, and I think this argument is nonsense), "big brother" and the like. On the other side, defenders of the speed cameras pontificate about safety and speeding.

In my view, here's what's wrong with speed cameras:

  • First and foremost, they aren't safety devices. The person who likes to drive fast (I'm one myself) knows where the cameras are, slows down as he or she approaches them, and speeds up when as soon as he or she has passed them. This doesn't slow down drivers, but merely creates a momentary, awkward (and perhaps occasionally dangerous) disruption in the normal traffic flow. (I can't prove it, but I suspect that more than one driver has had to slam his or her brakes when the car in front suddenly sees the camera and stops abruptly.)
  • Equally important, the cameras are not a substitute for a police officer's good judgment. Depending on weather and traffic, there are times when driving 10, 15 and even 20 miles an hour over the posted limit is not only perfectly safe, but it is in fact the speed at which virtually all drivers drive. At other times, closer adherence to the speed limit is important for safety. Drivers know this instinctively. So do police officers. Cameras don't.
  •  If one is honest about it, we know that speed limits were set decades ago, when cars were dramatically less maneuverable or responsive to the driver's demands. Braking and handling are not remotely as difficult as in the past. Most roads are more safely constructed now. (I suspect you remember what Burdette Road looked like years ago, before the hills were removed, or Seven Locks, both above and below River Road.) Many main arteries have been widened; signage is better; traffic control is better. Sure, traffic is heavier than in the 1970's, but no one can credibly argue that 25 miles and hour, or even 35 miles an hour, is a realistic speed limit. (Speed cameras are more a local roads issue, but some folks remember the speed limit on I-95 was originally 75 MPH, which was perfectly safe, even with the big boats that we drove back in the 1960's, cars with drum brakes and loose power steering that were far less responsive than those today.)
  • The speed camera's biggest flaw is that it promotes disrespect for the law. Law-abiding citizens, like you and me, are angry about them and feel that they are a foolish government expenditure, really intended more to produce revenue than to promote safety, and ineffective as to their state purpose. It builds contempt for our government, and that's not healthy for any of us.

As someone who is comfortable driving in New York City, Rome and London and feels at home in the most challenging traffic settings, I nonetheless rue every single trip to Potomac (sometimes several times a day) from Persimmon Tree Road . The turn from Persimmon Tree into River Road is one of the most challenging I have ever seen. The need for a traffic light there is obvious and compelling. In my 30+ years here, I've come to accept that the county simply isn't going to put a light on this corner.  (I fantasize that the County Executive should be made to turn left from Persimmon Tree toward Potomac during morning or evening rush hour just ten times. There would be a traffic light there the next day.) But imagine my irritation when, instead, a speed camera was installed near this intersection. It does nothing to improve the dangerous entry from Persimmon Tree, and stands as a testament to the core point: these things do not improve safety, but the county was more than willing to make an investment to generate some fresh revenue.

Anyway, thanks for your work on this subject. If you stay with it in any way, I'd be delighted to offer a hand.

P.S. I've been irritated about this for awhile, but, like you, I'm driven to action by a ticket. Not me; my wife. She was driving on East-West Highway at 11:30 p.m. That's a four-lane road, with no traffic on it at all at that hour. She was going 36 miles an hour and got a camera ticket. Of course, she was driving a perfectly safe speed and wasn't thinking about speed cameras, because she's a safe and cautious driver. This is not only unfair; it's absurd. An experienced speeder would be doing 60 on East West Highway at that hour, slowing momentarily for the camera (whose location he is sure to know and be thinking about), and then speeding off when he passes it. This is just wrong-headed law enforcement.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Media Coverage of Speed Camera Awareness Campaign

When I decided to pursue this campaign 3 weeks ago, I could never have imagined the reaction from the public. The support has been overwhelming, and the media exposure extensive. ... More

Media coverage for the Potomac Secret Agent

The Washington Post:
The Good and Bad of Traffic Enforcement (blog)
The Internet Accelerating Speed Camera Foes

The Washington Times: Letters to the Editor

The (Maryland) Gazette: ‘SecretAgent' warns drivers of speed cameras

WNBC (Channel 4)

"Potomac Secret Agent" Alerts Md. Drivers to Speed Cameras
May 28, 2009
WUSA (Channel 9)

Speed Camera Protester Posts Signs
May 28, 2009

Speed Camera Protester Posts Warning Signs

WFOX (Channel 5)

Interviewing the Potomac Secret Agent
May 27, 2009

Secret Agent Warns of Speed Cameras
WJLA (Channel 7)

Speed Camera Warning Signs Aim to Save Residents MoneyMay 23, 2009

Speed Cameras Prompt Backlash from Some Drivers
May 26, 2009

The speed camera warning signs were posted to bring attention to the proliferation of speed cameras in Potomac. A new law signed by Governor O'Malley will allow additional speed cameras within 1/2 mile of school zones and in highway work zones. This could double the number of speed cameras in Montgomery County from 60 to 120 within a year.

Speed Cameras may have a place in our neighborhoods to make them safer places. I contend that some of the locations selected for speed cameras have been chosen based upon the amount of revenue they can generate. After all, this is a joint venture with the private sector who is funding the installation, maintenance and operation of these cameras. It is silly for elected officials to deny that revenue is not at least PART of the equation.

Secondly, there are many locations in Montgomery County, especially in smaller neighborhoods, where speed enforcement would better promote public safety. These less traveled roads could never support automated enforcement because of the economic model used to select camera locations. Why wouldn't we use the revenue generated by these cameras to fund safety measures in these smaller neighborhoods? Speed bumps, road narrowing, traffic circles all could be effective in some of these locations. Not one of our elected officials interviewed has addressed this issue.

When I return from work each day and pull into my neighborhood, I thank my lucky stars I live in Potomac. I have chosen to raise my children here and sleep easier every night knowing I am doing my best to keep them safe. I think we all have a civic responsibility to question decisions made by our elected officials. All we expect in return is HONEST answers. So far, all we have is dodged questions.

The support from the public has been incredible. Thank you to all those who have supported this campaign. Thank you to the Montgomery County Police for their patience in allowing these signs to stay. Thank you for all of those who have offered financial support. In lieu of financial support, I ask you sign the petition circulated my Maryland for Responsible Enforcement. Their success will send the new law allowing more cameras to referendum.

10920 Cripplegate Road - Great Falls Estates - $4,250,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

This is a lovely and well built home. It will be difficult to describe because it is so unique. Built by Sandy Spring Builders in 1996, this home is has all the bells and whistles.

The home looks like a plantation home from the exterior. Two enormous trees stand sentry in the front, protecting the home from the harsh rays of the sun. The old stately trees don't prepare you for the wonderfully modern interior. High ceilings, elaborate mouldings and built-ins abound in this Arts and Crafts styled design.

There is a central open stairway in this house that is stunning. Its wide path and beautiful landing is lovely. Above the soaring ceiling makes you feel like you are in a hotel instead of a single family home in Potomac. The kitchen is what you would expect in a multi-million dollar estate. Beautiful cabinets, granite and all of the high end names you want to see.

There 2 additional stairwells on this first level. There is a back stairwell to the upstairs main house, and a stairway up on the right side of the home that leads to a private office suite. It is used currently as a bedroom and full bath, and would work great as a guest bedroom...or again an in home office.

The library is filled with built in shelving and a lovely partner desk. The extensive patios and covered porches lend to the charm of this large home, and somehow remain in scale without being ostentatious.

The upstairs has a large seating area off the main central stairway. This is beautifully decorated and furnished. The bedrooms are all large and beautifully designed. The master suite is spectacular with a large tray ceiling that provides plenty of drama. A nice sitting room and beautifully outfitted master bath. The cabinets in the master are beautiful.

The basement is fully finished with large bedroom and full bath. Plenty of space for a playroom or home theatre. The back exits to the lower patio and beautiful pool. The pool house has a full bath, kitchen, changing area and storage. The upstairs of this pool house is a separate guest house. Large spacious room, bath and sitting area. All of this with a separate driveway entrance. Very nice.

How do you price a home like this? It is very difficult. I am not shocked with the $4,250,000 asking price, it is probably fair. I am not sure how it will do in this market. The home is a stunner and will please anyone that sees it. I am not sure if this may not finally settle somewhere between the asking price and assessed value when the lucky buyer signs the papers. Don't miss this one....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

7801 Whiterim Terrace - Fawcett Farms Manor - $749,000

Listed by WC and AN Miller

Google Map Here

Fawcett Farm Manor is a popular destination for first time buyers in Potomac. These 3 level town homes provide a good entry point into an otherwise cost prohibitive market.

This contemporary end unit has been updated and well cared for. The unit shows well and the additional windows on the side of the home provide lots of natural light. The kitchen has been updated with stainless appliances and granite. An additional investment to update the cabinets would have been worth the money, as the kitchen still looks dated with the improvements.

The carpet on the first level is decent shape and the family room area is bright and in good condition.

The basement is carpeted and has a full bath. There is a bedroom and recreation area in this space as well.

The upstairs has 2 kid sized bedrooms and the signature his and hers bath in the master suite. This feature is still beloved by all that look at this town home design.

The agent took the time to make a list of all the improvements in the property over the past six years. The last few units to settle of this type had final sales price of $594K and $612K. This is going to need some help appraising.

The assessed value of this property is probably a more realistic sales price then the current list. It may take some time for the owners to come to the same conclusion. This should settle between $600K and $625K when the papers are signed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10607 Tulip Lane - Potomac Outside - $1,950,000

Listed by Weichert

Google Map Here

When you see "Potomac Outside" listed as the subdivision, you assume the property is on the outskirts of Potomac. This one is close to North Potomac off Glen Mill Road.

Tulip Lane is a nice street filled with custom homes. This home is at the end of a long pipe stem. With over 2 acres, it offers lots of privacy.

This home was built new in 1993. It has an open, contemporary design that has held up well over the years. Some of the early 1990 designs went out of style quickly. This one still shows well and will appeal to those that like a contemporary flair.

The long driveway takes you down to the end of a pipe stem. The driveway and lawn are lovely. I was cringing thinking about having to clear snow or replace it. The landscaping was done well, but needs some attention. Some of the shrubs and trees need to be pruned back to allow the home to show through. The brick entry is deceiving. Although the home has a 3 car garage, it looks modest from the front.

The front door brings you to a lovely, bright open foyer. High ceilings and an open stairway give a spacious view of the interior. Very few walls separate the space, and those that like an open feel will be in heaven. The bleached oak floors fit the space, and run throughout the first floor.

The decor is nicely done. Colors and furnishings fit the space. There is a living room designed for entertaining complete with granite bar for party cocktails. The windows let the outside in with lots of light.

The kitchen is on the back left side of the home adjacent to the garage. Cool black granite tile contrasts with white cabinets and nice (albeit older) appliances. The kitchen has held up well. Adjacent to the kitchen is a small guest room and full bath. A corridor brings you to a back (informal) entry and mudroom near the garage.

The upstairs has 3 nice size bedrooms, all en suite, and show well. One bedroom overlooks the family room through windows. Some will love this touch, while others will not. I thought it was cool.

The master is large and tastefully decorated. The only remnant of the 1990's design is in the master bath. Although high quality at the time, it is still "Miami Vice" pink. Some will love it, others will hate it, but it will be expensive to change.

The basement is large and completely finished. WIth high ceilings and open space, this is a dream family space. The walkout allows in light to make you forget you are in the basement. A weight room, bedroom with full bath, large granite bar and lots of storage makes me wish I was a kid in this home. The ping pong, Foosball and weight room would have kept me and my 3 siblings very happy.

There is a pool in the backyard along with a putting green and sand traps. I can imagine some late night contests between the husbands while the wives are up on the deck laughing. This is cool space.

What about the price? Well, it is new to the market at $1,950,000. It will be very difficult to get that price in this market. The home is not near the village, and faces stiff competition in this market. It is the homes above $1mm that are suffering during this recession. If you can find someone that is looking for a contemporary style in this price range it will probably settle somewhere around $1,550,000. Even at that price, it may be on the market for 6 months. I'll report back on this one and see where it lands.

Monday, May 25, 2009

13316 Sunny Brooke Place - Piney Glen Village - $699,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

This is a large brick town home in the Piney Glen Village community. Similar to my recent review on 10422 Dalebrooke Lane, this home has a better location and is all hardwood floors.

All of these town homes in Piney Glen Village are similar. This 3BR, 3.5BA home is located on a nice street backing to the community park. The backyard is gated to the park, so would be great for buyers that would use this space. The home is nicely decorated and is completely finished in hardwood. This may suit someone that has allergies very well.

The kitchen is in the back side of the home and is a bit dated. The kitchen has a high island area that separates the space from the breakfast room. The competing property on Dalebrooke has a much better design. The sliders in the kitchen go out to a lovely deck with stairs down to a fenced backyard. A gate will lead you from the yard to the park behind you.

This is a nice home that is well maintained. The price is a bit high in this market, but not by a lot. This should sell in the $670K range. Whether it sells before its competition depends upon what is important to the family that buys it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

27 Stanmore Court - Great Falls Estate - $2,345,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

I try to see all of the homes in Great Falls Estates as I love the community. I've said in past posts, this is the community I dream of moving up to when I win the lottery. This street is close to the canal as the bird flies, and the home is located at the end of the court on a pipe stem lot.

I did not want to like this home when I saw it from the street. It was plain on the outside, and the front yard was mostly paved. It was not ugly, but just not what I expect when I hear Great Falls Estates.

An arts and crafts style, this home has simple styling and decor. When I walked in I loved the simple styling and sparse furnishing. The floors are dark hardwood in the foyer with high ceilings that add to a spacious feel. The living room is on the left. It is long and runs along the front of the home. Windows let in plenty of light which makes the space comfortable and attractive. A fireplace along the central wall finishes the space. The view from the foyer leads you through the living room to the dining room. Painted a dark color, the design is unexpectedly attractive and formal.

The master bedroom is on the main level on the right side of the home. This is a lovely bright space with his and hers closets and a tremendous master bath. The shower is complete with a regular nozzle and overhead rain shower head. The tile in the shower stall is high quality and attractive. A consistent theme throughout the home. There is also a lovely balcony off the MBR overlooking the lovely pool in the back.

The addition on the back of this home is dramatic. With soaring ceilings the step down family room has 2 story domed ceilings. It is open to the kitchen which is high end with no expense spared. The breakfast room is also beautifully designed and surrounded by windows.

The basement is accessed by a family room stairway. It is finished, but not to the level of finish of the rest of the home. There is laundry, lots of storage, a full bath and changing area for the pool, a fireplace and exercise area and some space suitable for a large wine cellar in the corner.

The 3 upstairs bedrooms are large. Two of the bedrooms share a Jack and Jill bath, and the larger bedroom has an attached sitting area with bath en-suite. Very nicely done.

The home originally had a one car garage. A new 2 car addition is separate from the home but connected by a covered walkway. The one car garage enters the home into a mud room area with lots of built in storage, beautiful flooring and a nice powder room. The home also has a back wrap around deck done in field stone. This home would be great to entertain.

This home was a great surprise. A lot bigger then I expected, and beautifully finished. I give the homeowner an A+ in selecting the design and finish.

Is it worth $2,345,000? It should be worth every penny. In this market, it is hard to tell. The neighborhood warrants a premium for it convenience, cache and location. The Churchill schools are also a plus. This should sell within 7% of ask price. I would not be surprised if it sold at full price. Put this one on the short list to see.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thank You! WJLA Channel 7, Washington Post, News Channel 8

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for all of the e-mails and messages of support. I was overwhelmed when I opened the Potomac Secret Agent e-mail this morning.

Overwhelmingly, Potomac residents seem to agree.

Some have offered their support, some have offered to post signs in their yards others have offered financial support for an ongoing campaign to protest automated traffic enforcement. Needless to say, I do not support the proliferation of speed cameras in the Potomac area.

Daniel Zubairi, a local businessman from Bethesda and former Congressional candidate, has launched a petition drive which would force the Senate Bill authorizing statewide speed cameras to a referendum (SB-277). He has created an organization "Maryland for Responsible Enforcement" and launched a website to promote the referendum and has filed the required paperwork with the state to force this vote. I would encourage all Potomac residents to follow this link to his site to sign the petition. This is by far the most productive way to promote change.

Speed cameras may have a place in our area to keep our streets safe. Potomac residents should have some say where these cameras should go and be allowed to vote to support or deny the installation. The rapid proliferation of these cameras in "gotcha" locations is suspect, and lends support to allegations that the cameras are less about enforcement and safety and more about revenue.

Thank You for all of the e-mails and messages of support.

The Washington Post published an article in the Metro section addressing the Speed Camera controversy. News Channel 8 (Local Cable News in the DC Area) will be running a story late this afternoon and tomorrow reporting on the protest. Please take the time to read the Post article, watch the News Channel 8 report and visit the "Maryland for Responsible Enforcement" web page. Also please weigh in with your opinion by taking the poll (top right of this page). You can see results on public opinion immediately.

Most importantly, Keep Potomac Safe and Drive Gently. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

1513 Blue Meadow Road - Horizon Hill - $775,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

Horizon Hill was built in the mid 1970's and is a favorite for buyers moving up to the Potomac market. In the Richard Montgomery cluster, the homes here are usually priced a bit less then those in the Churchill school cluster. This presents an opportunity for those buyers that do not place Churchill as high on the buyer checklist.

This is an attractive split on a quiet street in Horizon Hill. The description of the listing led with one word..."WOW!". I was curious to see what the fuss was about.

You notice while walking up the front path that the home had stone veneered to the outside of the house. While it looked great from afar, it did not look as good as you got closer. I wondered if it was misinstalled. It would be foreshadowing to what I would find as I went through the home.

There is terracotta tile in the foyer leading into the kitchen. You step down to the left into a large family or living room with nice hardwood floors. There are upgraded can lights in this room that were done nicely. This is probably the nicest room in the home. The dining room is attached, and has a yellow faux finish painted on the wall. The kitchen has an addition on the back for a breakfast table with lots of windows and natural light. There is granite and pickled oak cabinets that don't quite go with the terracotta tile on the floor. The back splash behind the range is not very attractive. The kitchen is dirty and poorly painted. This room will need to be spruced up when the home finds a buyer.

The upstairs has a master and 3 teen size bedrooms. The bathrooms are upgraded but very poorly done. The master bath has Corian counters and faucets that look dated and are not in style.

Downstairs is done in a hardwood style Pergo. There are two room additions on the back. One is a sun room and the other can be an office. There is a leak in the sun room and it looks poorly constructed. A home inspection is a must in this home. The stairwell leading to the lower level is carpeted in Berber style carpet. A Corian bar and higher end "Zodiac" sink are on this basement level. A full bath behind the bar leads me to believe that at some point this may have been a nanny suite.

The backyard has a pool and large Jacuzzi under an arbor. The base of the Jacuzzi is stone, once again, poorly finished.

This home has good bones, but all of the improvements look as though they were poorly done in the past. Because of the way this home presents, it is going to be difficult to buy this home near its current price. I suspect some of the work will have to be redone, and I cringe to think what the home inspection may turn up.

I think this home needs to be cut in price by close to $100K. Only time will tell what this will finally sell for, but it has already been reduced considerably from $869K in February. I will re-visit this home and report back once it goes under contract.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

12213 Ambleside Drive - Glen Park - $695,000

Listed by Weichert

Google Map Here

Glen Park is a community that was built in 1972. A mix of styles, there are colonials, splits and ramblers that are reasonably priced. Located in the Churchill Cluster, this community should be on your short list to consider in the below $800K range.

This is a well kept rambler about a block from Watts Branch Stream Park. There is a double wide driveway to supplement a single car garage. The plantings were in full bloom the day I viewed the home. Azaleas, Rhododendrons and large hostas dot the property. A gardener will be happy to see this inventory of beautiful flowering shrubs.

This is not a large home, but it has been renovated beautifully. The decor is up to date and tasteful, and you can move your things right in without any worries about redecorating.

The hardwood floors are in good shape and the kitchen has been updated and expanded with nice cabinets, Corian and a large beautiful skylight to let in plenty of natural light. An island is conveniently located by the kitchen entry for use as a breakfast bar or a place to sip a glass of wine while chatting with the chef. A picture window near the sink allows you to look at the beautiful plantings while washing and rinsing the dinner dishes.

A laundry room is located just off the kitchen in a corridor leading to the garage. A small sitting area at the kitchen entry was the old dining room before a rear addition. It is a nice transitional room now, with a round table that is a great spot to place fresh flowers from the garden.

There is a large addition on the back of the home that houses a family room. Cathedral ceilings and a large fireplace make this room the star of the home. Plenty of light, great place to look out on the yard or sit by the fire during the cool winter months. A door to the outside brings you to a lovely deck to lounge after dinner or sunbathe in the summertime.

The bedrooms are small, typical of the 1972 construction. The baths have been updated and are ready for new owners. If you do not need a large bedroom, or perhaps moving down from a larger Potomac home, take a look.

The basement is finished with panelling and carpet. This area could use a update, but the extra space is welcome.

This home is pretty and shows well. The overgrown yew bushes in the front of the home should be removed to let some light on the lawn and allow you to see the front of the home from the street. A small change will make a big difference in how the home is perceived.

This home may be a bit aggressively priced, but has just come on the market. They may be testing the waters. This may be better priced at $675K ans should settle between $650K and $675K when all is said and done.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

11007 Brent Road - Fawcett Farms - $899,000

Listed by WFP

Google Map Here

Fawcett Farms for less then $1mm? I was really curious. This home is located on Brent Road which is between Brickyard and Rock Run Drive just off Falls Road on the Bethesda side of Potomac.

This is a lovely home that needs some TLC. The home has horrid curb appeal as the yard is overgrown and looks terrible. The ground cover has taken half the front walk out, and it would be tough to navigate in the dark.

The front door leads you into a nice foyer with high ceilings. There is beautiful wide plank cherry flooring throughout the main level. It would be stunning with a bit of polish and buffing. The finishes are good through out the main level. The kitchen is nice with granite and quality cabinets. The appliances look older then 1995 when the home was built. Some new stainless appliances would make a big difference in how this kitchen shows.

The family room has a fireplace and cathedral ceilings. Although not large by Potomac standards, this is a great layout.

Upstairs has 3 bedrooms that are empty except for artwork on the walls. I am guessing the homeowner is an artist as there is a studio in the basement. Although the art is nice, the empty bedrooms do not show well. The master is good size and finished well. The bathroom needs a bit of spit and polish, but has aged well.

The basement stairs has carpeting that is trashed and filthy dirty. It leads to an unfinished basement with lots of potential.

This home needs $10,000 of cosmetic work to make it look nice. I am sure the investment now would yield the homeowner $50,000 in sales price. With low interest rates I cannot imagine a better investment. It will give you a 400% return is a very short period of time.

The home is priced to sell. I am sure you can negotiate a bit more, but someone is going to get a bargain here.

Why don't you let me take you over to see this one. You will end up with a great home, in a great location with great schools at a great price. Need I say more?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

10422 Dalebrooke Lane - Piney Glen Village - $699,000

Listed by Coldwell Banker

Google Map Here

This community was unknown to me before I visited this week. In the far northern section of Potomac, bordering North Potomac, is Piney Glen Village. A large community of single family and town homes, it is a nice mix of homes built in the late 1990's.

This is a large all brick town home with a 2 car garage. These homes are typical of three level town homes built all over the area over the past 10 years. The brick fascia gives them the look of an urban brownstone which appeals to many.

A stairway takes your up to the entry level and formal living area. Hardwood floors and elaborate mouldings are an attractive feature in this home. A strange odor hits you at the front door. Maybe residual odor from cooking? A air freshener may be in order here.

The home is in good condition and is well maintained. The kitchen is well designed with a nice island and granite tops. High end white cabinets and appliances will please even the most critical kitchen aficionados. The back splash is done with expensive tile. A nice touch in the bland world of town homes.

A door takes you out to a nice 2 level deck. The back of the home has a built in awning for relief from the sun on summer afternoons. We all know this is a great asset when the DC sun is cooking.

Upstairs the Master suite has a cathedral ceiling and is nicely staged. The master bath has a whirlpool tub and is pretty typical of higher end town homes. The other bedrooms upstairs are teen size and will provide plenty of room for kids and guests. The bathroom in the hall is plenty big to service the additional bedrooms.

The basement is fully finished and is carpeted. There is a slider that takes you to the back yard where a slate patio awaits. The deck shades the area dramatically, so it is not a place for a sun chair. It may be used as a protected spot for storage or a bit of shade.

This is a nice home in the Churchill school cluster. For $699K, you can have a well outfitted home that is in great condition. The location is on the outer limits of Potomac, but we all know that many just want the Potomac zip code and are not concerned about proximity to the village. If this is the case, Piney Glen Village is worth a look.

There is competition for this home in this same community. This home shows better and has a nicer kitchen design. The other home has a better location backing to park. I see this one settling at $670K when the settlement takes place.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

8705 Hidden Hill Lane - East Gate - $869,000

Listed by Weichert

Google Map Here

There has been a surge of listings in this neighborhood. I recently reviewed the 8702 Hidden Hill, which is across the street. The neighborhood is a popular. When priced right homes move quickly. A home at 8814 Hidden Hill just went under contract. It was priced aggressively and was on the market for less then 30 days.

This home is an expanded contemporary built in 1972. The kitchen and dining room have been bumped out to allow for a large sky lit breakfast area and a larger then normal formal dining room. A sliding glass door leads you to a large deck that provides a vista of a private wooded back yard.

This home has been completely renovated over the last few years. All the hardwood in the home is in good condition. The baths are upgraded, walls tastefully painted and kitchen large and modern. So, why hasn't it sold?

The home is empty except for a small bedroom in the basement. There is someone living down there as the door to this bedroom is dead bolted. There is food in the fridge and clutter in the butler pantry desk. The home needs to be thoroughly cleaned. The granite counters need washing the floors swept and the bathroom (Especially downstairs) cleaned. The home could be best described as "sloppy" with a lot of potential.

This home has been on the market for some time. The price is too high at $869,000. It needs to be reduced by $30,000 to bring it in line with its competition.

If the sellers are proactive and have the home thoroughly cleaned they stand a chance of getting a decent offer. If they do nothing they are inviting low offers.

The market is already competitive. With all of the additional homes that have come to market in this neighborhood, it is VERY competitive. Only those homes that are looking their best and priced properly are going to get offers. Based upon what I have seen with this home, it should sell around $820K when all is said and done.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

10540 Tyler Terrace - Bells Mill Village - $824,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

This is a great community off Bells Mill Road between Democracy and Gainsborough. This home is on a nice cul-de-sac which was built in 1969. The home has been well prepared for sale with new paint and nice upgrades, ready for a new owner.

The brick colonial sits up on a knoll overlooking the court. The tile foyer is bright and shows off the curved stairwell leading to the second level. The living room is large and painted a soft yellow. The dining room is decent size and looks out on the back of the home. The laundry room is to the right side in the front of the home. It is good size and a nice feature in a home of this era. The powder room has been updated and is nicely done. The family room is small - long and narrow. It has a full wall fireplace and hearth. There is a grill installed in this room that seems out of place but may appeal to some grilled food lovers. The kitchen is white tiled and has nice oak (pickled oak?) cabinets.

The upstairs is spacious with a very nice master bedroom suite. There is a large carpeted walk in closet with a sunken tub with tile surround. The commode, sink and shower are located in a much more modest space on the other side of the room. The 3 other bedrooms include one larger bedroom and two kid sized rooms.

The basement is finished with carpet and a full bath. It has baseboard heat, and could house an office or bedrooom for nanny or domestic help.

.This home has been well prepared for the market. The price may be a bit aggressive, but not out of line. This one should sell and settle between $775K and $799K when the final ink is dry.

Monday, May 11, 2009

8702 Hidden Hill Lane - East Gate of Potomac - $899,000

Listed by WC & AN Miller

Google Map Here

East Gate is one of the few communities in Potomac where you can find a high percentage of contemporary homes. Built in the early 1970's, this community is convenient to shopping, the beltway and is located in the Churchill High School cluster. This continues to be a popular community in Potomac for reasonably priced homes.

This home has decent curb appeal, but does not have a lawn. The front yard is filled with hostas and ground cover which will appeal to those that like a more naturalized look.

This home has been completely redone. There is a custom laminate floor that covers the foyer into the kitchen. Durable and attractive, this is a nice touch. The kitchen has been recently renovated with contemporary white cabinets and granite counter tops. The living room is adjacent to the kitchen and back of the home. A large picture window gives you a lovely vista of the small backyard.

The upstairs has three teen size bedrooms and a pretty master. There is hardwood floors throughout this upper level in very good condition. The 2 baths have been updated and fit in nicely with the homes tasteful decor.

The basement is fully finished and bright. There is a slider that allows you to walk out to the backyard patio. A full bath with lots of space for storage completes the space.

This is a tastefully decorated and fully renovated contemporary. The listing claims 3600 square feet of finished space, but I believe this included the below grade finished basement.

At $899K this home is not cheap, but offers an opportunity to just move your stuff in and live beautifully. There are many less expensive homes in the neighborhood, but many of them will require renovation of some type to bring them to the finish level of this home. This one shows beautifully and in a better market would probably fetch full price. In this market the home will probably settle in the $860K to $875K range.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

12301 Piney Glen Lane - Piney Glen Farms - $1,225,000

Listed by WFP

Google Map Here

This is a lovely street just off Piney Meetinghouse Road. These single family homes were built in the late 1960's and early 1970's and many have been updated and expanded.

This home sits on a 2 acre corner lot. It is surrounded by cherry trees in the front, and is a spectacle when in full bloom. The 2 car garage is side load, which makes this home look huge from the street. The lawn and grounds are well maintained and have mature "deer proof" plantings. A slate walk brings you around to a heavy wood front door with porch to shield guests from the elements.

The entry is formal with a hardwood foyer. A living room takes the entire right side of the home. It has vintage gold colored carpet, but well maintained. The fireplace has a marble surround and the window treatments were very stylish and probably expensive in their day. There is a small room to the left that can be used as an office or sitting room. The powder room is dated but nicely decorated.

The kitchen and adjacent breakfast area are connected by a pass through for serving. Both rooms have resilient sheet good flooring in good condition. The kitchen update is probably 15 years old, but well done with a Corian style counter top and nice quality cabinets. The kitchen can probably be updated without a full renovation. Granite and new appliances will go a long way.

The family room is large with a nice cozy feel. A large fireplace and back stairwell to the upstairs make efficient use of the space. There are picture windows on this level that were the rage in the 1970's. They work well in this home as the grounds are lovely. Any view of them from the inside is a bonus.

The upstairs has 5 bedrooms. There is a modest master bedroom, 3 additional bedrooms and an interesting bedroom suite that includes a small kitchen and full bath. It could be used for an in-law or nanny suite if desired, or leave this as an upstairs playroom for the kids.

The basement is fully finished and large. Although cut up a bit, there is plenty of space with a game room, recreation room with bar and fireplace and room for a bedroom. A full bath is in place and in good condition.

This is a lovely Crowell and Baker colonial on a beautiful lot. Although it needs updating, it has good bones and would be a great investment for someone willing to do the work. The price is fair and a value for the potential home buyer. I am not sure where this will end up, but if you could get it below $1,175,000 it would be a steal. Go see this one if you are not afraid of a bit of renovation and this is in your price range. The return on investment will be wonderful.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

12301 Old Canal Road - Montgomery Square - $599,000

Listed by WC and AN Miller

Google Map Here

This house was a very nice surprise. This brick colonial with a one car garage sits pretty on a 1/4 acre lot in Montgomery Square. This lovely home is in the Richard Montgomery school cluster and is a good value for a Potomac address.

A slate walk leads you to the front porch of this colonial. The entry takes you to a hardwood entry. You look to the left and notice a enormous dining room with custom paint. You realize afterwards that they are using the living room as a dining room - but it works well. The actual dining room is adjacent, and it is used as a play area for the kids. The kitchen is updated and looks out on a lovely back yard.

Upstairs there are 3 kid sized bedrooms and a updated hall bath. The master suite has been blown out over the garage which added some closet space and a sitting area. Although not super large, it is welcome space and very nicely built out. The master bath is small, but completely redone. The finish is modern, with a nice large shower stall - sink and commode.

The basement is finished and newly carpeted. There is a room being used as a weight room, some storage and a small recreation or TV area. There is a funky smell here, it could be from the weight room, new carpet or moisture. This will have to be further investigated by a prospective buyer.

This is a nice house for the price. Some will complain that this is REALLY Rockville....but it has a Potomac mailing address. I say for the price, it is a good value. This may not sell at list price (Does anything these days?), but should sell within 5%. Great job on staging. Go see it!

Friday, May 8, 2009

13 Lakenheath Court - Inverness Forest - $820,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

Inverness Forest is a large community with a mix of housing types and styles. It is convenient to shopping with good schools and a great sense of community. This is a nice colonial with great floor plan at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac.

This home sits up on a hill, so the garage is underneath and leads into the basement. You head up the front walk to the main entry and come into a tile foyer. You notice immediately that the home is neat, clean and painted in tasteful colors. The flow of the floor plan is a good one with great circulation throughout the first floor. The kitchen has been renovated and tastefully done. A laundry room is adjacent to the kitchen which is a sought after feature in this price range.

The upstairs has 4BR and 2 full baths. The rooms are nice size and the baths have original tile. There is more room then I thought up here. The size from the exterior is deceiving.

The basement is finished with a full bath and bedroom. There is an exterior entry for the garage and plenty of room for a recreation or family room area.

This is a nice home that has been well prepared for settlement. The agent has done a great job in getting this home ready for the market and it should sell in a reasonable time. It is priced aggressively at $820K and I expect it to sell around $799K when all is said and done.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

7550 Heatherton Lane - Inverness Knolls - $570,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

Inverness Knolls is a community of town homes adjacent to the Cabin John Shopping Center. They were built in and around 1985, and have always been a desirable location for those looking for Potomac schools.

There has been a lot of renovation in this community over the past 5-10 years. Some of the homes that have been updated are stunning. Wood floors, upgraded cabinets, built-ins and even home theaters. I always like to keep track on what is going on in this community.

This home has been beautifully upgraded. Every room, every floor, every window. The home is stunning. There is hardwood throughout the home, even in the basement. The baths have all been upgraded. The kitchen has been recently redone with granite and tasteful maple cabinets. The colors and decor is lovely.

This may be the first time I do not have anything critical to say about a home. Even the price is fair. At $570,000 you will be hard pressed to find a nice home in Potomac.

The rear of the home is built into a hill, so there is not a back yard to deal with. The back has been fully decked, and it is large enough to have a basketball standard out back to shoot foul shots.

Go see this one today. I do not think it will last a week at this price. Someone would be lucky to get this at $550K, but I see it selling closer to full price.

This is my Potomac Value of the Week.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

2422 Chilham Place - Montgomery Square - $579,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

This is a nice 1960's era colonial in Montgomery Square. With brick front and under home garage, this is a typical tract home of the period.

This is a 4 bedroom 2.5 bath colonial built in 1967. It has been well taken care of, but is quite dated and ready for a re-do. Although there may have been minor updates over the years, all of the home including baths will need some update.

The day I visited I found the home quite cluttered. There was a pile of boxes and junk in the dining room that hopefully will be removed. The home is cluttered and does not show very well because of this.

The basement is unfinished with direct access to the under home garage. It too is cluttered and should be emptied to have it show well. The yard is nicely maintained, but may be a challenge to mow. The front is sloped and has 3 levels of concrete steps to get up to the front door.

This home will need some help before it will get a contract. It needs to be cleared out to allow potential buyers free access to all rooms. It is priced high, and will need to come down in price, or updated to warrant the current list price. There is lots of competition in this area. This one will end up selling around $525,000 as it is now.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

8853 Belmart Road - Great Falls Estates - $1,845,000

Listed by WC & AN Miller

Google Map Here

I think every Real Estate Broker has fantasies about winning the lottery. You could then buy your dream home for cash, and live in the home and neighborhood you just love. This thought was going through my mind when I saw this home in Great Falls Estates.

This home is on a 2 acre lot and has great curb appeal. The lawn is beautiful, the landscape has been taken care of and the classic good looks of a brick colonial shine. A circular drive takes you right up to the door - a classy entry.

The center foyer is slate and quite formal. The living room is on the left with a great fireplace and wet bar. The dining room is bright with a large picture window to the front of the home. There is a nice size office/library that is beautifully panelled and private.

The kitchen is in the center of the home. With cherry cabinets and older appliances, this room will be on the short list for renovation. The breakfast area is bright and an exit to a brick patio bring you out to a fabulous back yard.

The back yard may be the nicest part of this property. It is terraced and manicured. Someone has taken time to properly design and execute a beautiful landscape plan. There is obviously a gardener, or owner with deep pockets to keep this area in tip top condition.

The upstairs of this property has a modest size master bedroom and full bath. The bathroom is in need of updating, but it is good size with great potential. There is one additional bedroom with an en-suite bath and two other bedrooms that are teen size.

The basement is fully finished. The room has gorgeous and high quality cream colored panelled walls. Although the rest of the basement with bar is dated, a new owner would be smart to preserve the panelled walls which would cost an arm and leg to replace.

This is a great house with good bones. The home needs updating, but is perfectly livable as it is. The home could be transformed at your leisure while living in the home.

Is it worth the price?

I think this home is priced where it should be. That does not mean it will sell at this price. The lot and location will warrant a premium. Great Falls Estates is a premiere community and is in high demand. Someone seeing this home will fall in love with its scale, the grounds and the neighborhood. If I win the lottery tomorrow....I am making a beeline to the listing agents with a bag of cash.

Monday, May 4, 2009

9601 Accord Drive - Concord - $995,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

I brought some prospects to see this home late last year and it did not show well. It was withdrawn and showed up again on the market in late April at a reduced price. I decided to take a look at it again.

Accord Drive is a quiet street that is easily missed. Connecting River Road on one end, and a quiet Hall Road on the other, this street has a mix of old and new. This home is located on 1.16 acres with a large back yard. The home was built in 1960 and has just been updated. The kitchen has been completely redone and all of the old windows have been replaced. A fresh coat of paint, a thorough cleaning and some yard cleanup goes a long way to make a home look good.

I was pleasantly surprised to see all of the work done on this property. It has been dramatically improved since late last year and the price reduced. It leads me to believe the owners truly understand what needs to be done to get a home sold in this challenging market. Kudos to the agent as well. Pricing this home below $1mm is aggressive and smart. With the improvements on this home it should not last long, even in this market.

This home has an unusual floor plan. The front door takes you into a small foyer. Immediately to your left is the kitchen, and to the right a stairway to the basement. The dining room and family room are good size with a view of the backyard and pool. The windows let in plenty of natural light which enhance the refinished floors.

The upstairs has 3 smallish bedrooms and a decent size master suite. The baths have been upgraded and bedrooms are ready for occupants. The basement has a home theatre that I initially thought conveyed with the home but does not. Any offer should be sure to request the home theatre as part of the sale. A new full bath and decent size bedroom would be great Nanny or teen quarters. There is a funky smell in the basement. I am not sure if it is from moisture or possibly smoke from the previous resident.

This home is now priced well in this market. This home is convenient to the village (short walk)and part of the Churchill cluster. Anyone looking in this area that wants some acreage should put this home on their list to see. This should settle in the neighborhood of $950K to $975K once sold.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New York Times Agrees! - May 3rd - Real Estate Section

I was sent an e-mail this morning from a long time reader with a link to an on-line article in The New York Times.

The article is called "Snark Attack".

It speaks about the increase of inventory in the New York market, and the rise of sites that critique the existing inventory of homes and apartments for sale.

The article tells of the importance of homes being priced right and put on the market in the best possible condition.

This has always been an ongoing theme in Potomac Secret Agent reviews and would seem to be consistent in all tough real estate markets.

You can read the full article at this link.

Please take the time to read it and let me know how you feel about it. Does the Potomac Secret Agent mirror these sites? Do we avoid the "Snarkiness"?

Please comment and let me know.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

9900 Colebrook Avenue - Bedfordshire - $869,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Google Map Here

This is a pretty colonial at the corner of Colebrook and Bedfordshire Avenue in Potomac. Bedfordshire is a mix of traditional and contemporary homes built in the 1970's. It is located just off Glen Road and is a perennial favorite for "move up" Potomac home buyers.

This home is on a big corner lot with great curb appeal. The walk leading to the front door has been redone with stamped concrete. The landscape is mature and well maintained. A beautiful flowering cherry is the centerpiece in the front of the home.

The foyer is tiled with the balance of the main level hardwood. This colonial has a formal living room and dining room in the front of the home, with the family room adjacent to the kitchen behind the garage. A good size office on the main level will appeal to those needing some office space on the main level. The Kitchen has been updated with granite and updated cabinets. The breakfast room has a nice bay window looking out on the backyard with nice natural light.

Upstairs has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths. Both baths have been updated, and are in good condition. Cultured marble vanity tops lead me to believe the update on the baths was done in the 1990's.

The basement is finished and floored with 12x12 tile. A full bath (Pink) in the basement and baseboard heat make for lots of potential. A home theatre, nanny suite, workout room - the space is waiting.

The back yard is accessible from the family room and has a nice brick patio. The back yard is not very large, but well maintained.

This is a nice home in a sought after neighborhood. The ride on bus stops right at the corner for those that choose to commute via public transportation. The price is a bit high, but this is often the case for a new listing. This one should sell pretty quickly. I think the final price will end up between $815,000 and $825,000.