Sunday, September 25, 2011

7846 Oracle Place - Bells Mill Springs - $599,950

Listed by Long and Foster

Bells Mill Springs is a community of upscale town homes built in the early 1990's. Most are brick veneer with a one car garage underneath. This home has the main living level on the second floor with steps going from the ground level to the foyer.

The foyer is a few steps down from the main living level and is done in ceramic tile. There is a coat closet conveniently adjacent - with two steps up to the main floor.

There is hardwood throughout the first level - and it has been freshly refinished. The kitchen too has hardwood - which gleams from light streaming in from a large bay window in front of the home. The kitchen has been upgraded with new granite over top of original cabinets. I am not a big fan of these partial refinishes - but it looks fine here.

The dining room is in the middle of the town home and there is a step down to the family room and fireplace in the back. A slider takes you out to a small deck and yard in the rear.

Upstairs is carpeted with 2 bedrooms. tow of the bedrooms are teen size and the master is good size. The master and hall baths are somewhat dated - but there would be no urgency to refinish. Green Marble tile must have been the rage when this community was built - as it is installed in the bathrooms and powder room on the main level.

The basement is finished in carpet. There is a laundry area - powder room and garage down here. There is also a family room for TV or playroom for the kids.

The last unit to sell in this community was a nice end unit - which was 400 square feet larger with a 2 car garage. This settled at $617,500. I see this one settling in the range of $575-590K.

Friday, September 23, 2011

1435 Longhill Drive - Horizon Hill - $599,000

Listed by Weichert

Horizon Hill is a lovely community bordered by Falls Road and Wootton Parkway. Physically located in the City of Rockville - this is one of the communities that is served by the Potomac zip code.

This home is just off Wootton Parkway. It is a brick colonial that seems well maintained and has good curb appeal.

The foyer has been recently updated with laminate tile floor. The living room and dining room both have hardwood. The powder room too has been updated with the same laminate tile It is painted baby blue which somehow fits the vintage.

The kitchen is original - including the "Harvest Gold" appliances. The furnishing and decor throughout bring you back to the 70's when this home was built. The family room has a nice stone fireplace and hardwood floors. A slider goes out to a small patio.

The upstairs has two teen size bedrooms, one kid size and a decent master. The bathrooms are all freshly redone in tile laminate (Must have gotten a good deal on this tile) - and will both need updating in the near future.

The basement is unfinished. It has laundry facilities and a fireplace that would look great when the basement is finished.

This home is older but has "good bones". It will certainly be an ongoing project for someone that wants is willing to make the improvements - but this neighborhood is one of the few to get a home this size for under $600,000. The neighboring home at 1435 Longhill Drive settled for $550K in January. This one should settle in the neighborhood of $560-$575K when the ink dries.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

12025 Smoketree Road - Regent Park - $625,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Regent Park was built by Kettler Brothers in 1963. Just south of Montrose Road - this neighborhood funnels into Winston Churchill - and is very desirable for entry level Potomac.

This home has great curb appeal. With nicely trimmed shrubs and a slate and brick walk leading to the front door - it shows very nicely from the street. The home looks smaller than it really is - because the garage is not attached. There is a separate 2 car garage built behind the house on the left side.

The foyer as you enter has the staircase up to the left and a large brightly lit living room on the right. The large bay window in the front floods the room with light and showcases the hardwood floors. The dining room too benefits from the bright window - and is in the back corner of the home.

The kitchen has been updated (2006) - and has white 12x12 tiles throughout. The cabinets are new and the kitchen redesign provided lots of cabinet storage and pull out shelves. The only think I might change is the white Corian tops. They date the kitchen a bit - and would be well worth an upgrade to granite.

You step down from the foyer area a few steps to the powder room and extra large laundry room/mud room on the lower level in front. This entire area has tough laminate floor that looks great and will wear well. This room is one of the best features of this Kettler model - and is generally held in high regard by the family member responsible for laundry. A folding area, closets, laundry tub and space to hang delicates is a nice touch.

The family room is carpeted with Hunter green carpet. The walls are half paneling and older built ins tend to date the room a bit. A full brick wall fireplace anchors the room - and a slider provides access to the back yard and a small patio. The back yard is fenced and has plenty of room for kids with a swing set ready for action. The lot is only .23 acres, but ALL usable.

The stairway up to the bedroom level has new carpet that runs through the hall. A master bedroom has an updated bath but could use a style lift. The master bedroom is on the small side compared to today's standards, but it gets you into Potomac at a great price. The other bedrooms are kid/teen size - and the hall bath has been updated at some point in the past.

There is a bonus room on this level that could be used as a large bedroom or office. Someone in the past installed file cabinets in the side eave walls, and there is also a closet. A side window brings in plenty of light and the hardwood gleams. What a nice surprise for a home at this price point.

The basement is partially finished - but quite dated. It also needs to be aired out. The home is now vacant - and I don't think it gets much circulation. Laundry area is located here with plenty off additional space to finish the basement properly.

This home shows well - but needs some updating. The buyer's can make this one their own on a limited budget. Choose some granite - minor cosmetic updates to baths and family room - and you will have a winner. When the time comes - refinish the basement to give yourself room for the kids or your personal "mancave". This is priced fairly - but there is room to negotiate. I see this one settling in the $600K range.

Monday, September 19, 2011

9737 Pleasant Gate Lane - Avenel - $429,000

Listed by ReMax 2000

Avanel is an upscale planned community between Falls Road and Persimmon Tree Road in Potomac. Developed by Natelli Communities, it was built out by five or six builders through the 1990’s. It is a lovely, well maintained community, with all the amenities one would expect in a high end neighborhood.

There is a mix of housing here. Town homes, patio homes, single family homes and mansions are all part of the mix. The grounds and laws are all professionally maintained by an outside company – so the community always looks manicured. A strict association assures that homes are properly maintained which adds to the value of the community.

Montgomery County – when approving these large communities – forced builders to set aside a portion of the community for “affordable housing”. They called these units MPDU’s (Moderately Priced Dwelling Units). These homes were generally smaller then the surrounding homes with far fewer amenities than most homes in the community. This home is a former MPDU.

Pleasant Gate is located just off Oaklyn Drive in the middle of the Avenel community. The restriction on selling these former MPDU units long ago expired, so these homes can be sold without restriction – at whatever the market will dictate. These brick homes are similar to Cape Cod style homes without the dormers. There are generally one bedroom and a full bath on the main level with 2 additional bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. There are basements – and many have been finished over the past 20 years by homeowners.

The front door has a storm door which needs repair. The interior of the home has PERGO style laminate floors throughout the first floor. The bathrooms are original – but are in decent shape. The kitchen is original with laminate counter tops and builder grade appliances. There is a door in the kitchen to the exterior – a nice alternate egress to the yard or grill outside.

The laminate flooring in some rooms has been replaced with similar grade laminate – but not matching laminate. The walls could use a coat of paint and the home needs to be aired out. The AIRWICK solid air fresheners in various locations throughout the home are not quite the same as getting a little fresh air.

The basement is unfinished and looks as though there may have been some flooding in the past. The carpet on the stairs has been removed, and there is a noticeable scent of mildew or mold. A humidifier has been placed in the basement running full time to try and dry it out. There seems to be a rough-in for a full bath here. This is a big plus for someone looking for a bit more living space in these homes.

Overall - this home has great potential for someone wanting to get into Potomac schools at a Gaithersburg price. There is outdoor parking for 2 cars, and the community fee is a reasonable $273 per month. This property is bank owned - and in a great location. I think this is a great opportunity for an investor as there is a real shortage of rental properties in Potomac. This would rent for $2600 a month. If you could get this for $400K - that would be close to a 6-7% return on investment. Look for this one to settle between $400 and $410K.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

12323 Overpond Way - Copenhaver - $949,000

Listed by Long and Foster

Copenhaver is a fabulous move up community with great location just off Falls Road. Close to all commuter routes, it is a breeze to get to shopping, schools recreation and work. Homes that are priced right in this community sell quickly and often with competing offers.

Overpond Way is a short street that ends in a circle. This home is on the right side of the street just before the circle on a manicured lot. There is very little traffic coming into the circle - and the setting is lovely.

The foyer has hardwood flooring and is quite welcoming. A large living room on the left side is bright - with overhead lighting which is a recent upgrade. The dining room and living room are boldly painted red - which works with the current decor - but may detract some. It makes the rooms warmer - but seem smaller then they are. The powder room is nicely updated and shows well.

The kitchen has been completely renovated. The cabinets are dark cherry and appliances are cream colored. A pass through to the Family room has been added - which is a nice touch. The kitchen has been expanded into the back yard to make room for a breakfast area. Surrounded by windows, this area is a great place to enjoy your coffee.

The family room is somewhat isolated. It sits down a few steps in the back corner of the home. A slider will take you out to the yard, and a full brick fireplace makes the room cozy and intimate.

The upstairs has 4 bedrooms PLUS the master. Modern "Light Tubes" (Skylights) - do a great job of bringing natural light into the bathrooms and hall. It is amazing how bright these are for a passive system. All the bedrooms are teen size. The master is large with an updated bath and room for a king size bed. The 2 additional baths are also nicely updated. Overall - this is a lot of space.

The basement is fully finished - but dated. A half bath is convenient and could use some cosmetic updating. The bones here are good. It will take some creativity and personal touches to make it your own.

Overall, this is a nice home. With 2 offers that did not work out - it leads me to believe that there is not much flexibility in negotiations. In this market - that can be the kiss of death. This should sell in the next 60-90 days if there is some flexibility in price. Based on other similar homes that have sold and settled - this one should sell in the $900K range.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

12712 Lincolnshire Drive - Potomac Commons - $725,000

Listed by ReMax

I was e-mailed by a reader and asked why I often clump together listings from the same or adjacent neighborhoods. The short answer is because I am looking in these neighborhoods with clients. Believe it or not folks - I don't make a living by doing home reviews. I am an active agent touring folks through Potomac homes every week.

This home is in Potomac Commons - which is behind Hadley's Park - off Falls Road. Lincolnshire is a nice street which connects Falls Chapel Way with North Commons Way. The homes here are nicely maintained - and I have come to meet many people that grew up on this street.

This home has great curb appeal The colonial has stately columns and a nice open front yard. The overhang from the roof keeps visitors dry while waiting to enter the front door. The brick front is in great shape - but once you enter - you realize there is some work to be done to bring this home up to date.

The foyer is a dark slate and original to many of the homes in Potomac Commons. While it is often replaced, it can also work well with a modern decor. The first thing you notice in this home is the grand staircase that curves up to the second level. While the colors and carpet may be dated, it only takes a modern color palate and some new carpet to make this look grand once again. Dramatic entries never go out of style.

The living room and dining room both have hardwood floors and crown moulding. The size is typical for the style and age of the home, and although not large - they are adequate for today. The family room also has hardwood with a large masonry fireplace on the back wall. The paneling and cosmetic beams on the ceiling give away the age of this home, but are easily removed and replaced with drywall. This would dramatically update the look and make the room seem bigger.

The kitchen is dated and will need updating. The old dark cabinets and florescent lighting should be replaced and will make the kitchen look larger and brighter.

Going upstairs there are 2 teen size bedrooms and a good size master. These rooms all have hardwood floors and adequate closets. The decor and baths need updating, but the results should be worth it.

The basement is a blast from the past. Paneling and decor from the 70's bring me back to my childhood.

This home has great bones and is in a great neighborhood. Good schools, convenient access to shopping, work and play - what is not to like? This home is priced right - and should sell quickly. This should sell within a few percent of the asking price - and will be a good investment for the buyers. $25,000 of cosmetic updates should get them $50,000 in equity.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

8728 Falls Chapel Way - Potomac Commons - $749,000

Listed by Weichert Realtors

While legally this area is called Potomac Commons - most refer to this neighborhood as "Fox Hills West". These homes were built in 1970 for the move up market. They were considered large for the day at just over 3000 square feet on the living levels. The neighborhood and designs have stood the test of time. Fox Hills West is still one of the nicer communities along the Falls Road corridor.

This home is across from Hadley's Park and has nice curb appeal. The wrought iron rail on the second floor elevation may not be to everyone's taste, but the home is well maintained and inviting.

With bright tile in the foyer - this home has been nicely updated. The tile carries back through the kitchen, which has been renovated with light color cabinets and lovely granite. Although not a large kitchen, the design allows a breakfast table and L-shaped design makes the most of the space. A large picture window brings in plenty of natural light to the breakfast area and kitchen.

The living room and dining room are tastefully furnished and show off the hardwood floors. The family room has a brick wall with fireplace and decorative beams across the ceilings. The flow through the rooms is good - and this home would be great for entertaining.

Laundry is located in a mud room behind the garage. There is plenty of room for the updated washer and dryer. It is accessed through the kitchen - and is typical for this design. There is a powder room located here as well. It has been updated with a nice pedestal sink.

There is an upgraded sliding door going out to a large deck in the Family Room. The deck is in good condition and looks out over a flat, fenced back yard. This is great space for entertaining or for a play set. A gas grill is all you need to enjoy summer weekends cooking out.

The upstairs has 3 teenager sized bedrooms in addition to the master. There is hardwood throughout the upstairs area. The hall bath serving the bedrooms has been updated with granite counters and tile floor. The master suite has also been upgraded and is ready for you to move right in.

The basement is unfinished - but in very good condition. This could be easily finished to provide plenty of additional room to families that may need it.

This home is fairly priced at $749,000. A similar home sold at this level late last year. I am surprised this has been on the market for 60 days. This home really needs nothing more than some cosmetic updated to make it your own. This should settle somewhere around $720-735K.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9416 Copenhaver Drive - Copenhaver - $659,900

Listed By Rosselle Realty Services

Potomac has the reputation of being an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C. Many of my buyers are surprised to hear that some of the homes here are short sales and foreclosures. The difficulties of the economy over the past few years has hit everyone hard. Potomac has not been excluded from the pain.

This home is located in the Copenhaver community. Copenhaver is on the Northwest side of Falls Road and is a lovely community of single family homes. Home of Cold Spring Elementary - this is a sought after community because of the gifted and talented program based there. It is also conveniently located close to all Potomac has to offer.

This home is a foreclosure and needs some TLC. The home has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths on the main level. Built in 1973 - it has somewhat of a contemporary - open feel.

The main entrance has hardwood throughout the family room and kitchen. In decent condition - it shows well in the broad open family room. The kitchen is off on the right side - and has been updated in the past. Granite counter tops and updated fixtures can use some design help to make the kitchen more open. A large breakfast area and signature large brick fireplace is one of the best features of this model.

The bedrooms are quite dated. The carpet is old and worn and will need replacement. Some of the rooms have been poorly painted - and do not show well. One of the bedrooms has been converted to an office - and is a good fit for a buyer that does not need the additional sleeping quarters.

The basement is finished in wood panelling. The look is dated, but new paint technology allows paint to adhere to the panelling for a inexpensive updated look - and brightened impression. A full size brick bar takes up a large corner of the room. With a new counter top this could be impressive. Those that want to remove the bar are in for some backbreaking work. This is REAL brick!.

A laundry area is hidden in the back corner of the basement in an unfinished corridor. The home has been french drained and the in-ground basement smelled dry.

The yard is a bit overgrown - which is not unusual with bank owned property. With some time and money - the yard can be brought back to its original glory.

This home has good bones and would be a great project for someone looking to get into Potomac at a reasonable price point. The last few homes that sold of this model were in significantly better condition. This one has been priced to reflect this - and could end up being a good value. The bank may look at offers of significantly less than list price if contingencies are limited. Someone willing to take the time and effort (and cash) to update this home will be rewarded in the future. A cash offer could possibly get this home at it's assessed value of $633,880.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Churchill High School - AP Accolades

Confirmation of why I moved to Potomac to educate my children !

When I was in high school - taking an AP (Advanced Placement Exam) was reserved for those kids that took advanced classes and excelled in accelerated academic programs. Although I do not remember the exact numbers - I believe that less than 25 students sat for the AP tests my senior year - and approximately 70 percent received scores of 3 or higher.

I was stunned to read that 1060 students took one OR MORE advanced placement courses at Churchill. The amazing fact is over 90% of these students received scores of 3 or higher. This score potentially qualifies them for college credit. AMAZING!

It is not just upper grades that are taking these classes. Completing AP coursework for some students starts in Sophomore year. Many Sophomores will be taking as many as 3 AP exams this spring. A grade of 3 or higher on the exam may make get the student University credit while in high school.

There are some students leaving Churchill High School with the equivalent of 30 college credits. With the average cost of college rising each year - there is a significant potential savings for these kids as they may place out of a full year of university.

Yes, I am one of the parents that was drawn to Potomac because of the schools. It was worth paying a significant premium to move here in order to enroll my children in some of the best schools in the country. This data regarding the success of Churchill High School - and Montgomery County schools in general is just a confirmation that my family and all other families with children here made the right decision.

You can read the full article regarding the AP results in this article in the PotomacPatch. Click through for all the details.