What makes a home an estate?
Some say it’s price, when monthly mortgages look more like yearly salaries; while others say it’s size, like when the number of fireplaces surpasses the number of bedrooms; and still others say it’s land, requiring at least several acres.
Whatever it is, Realtors in Northern Virginia know it when they see it.
“It’s a combination of land and living space,” said Realtor David Meyers of Meyers & McCabe Realtors, Inc., describing his vision of an estate. “An estate usually means land, room to move around and privacy. The word in French might be chateau, while in Italy they might called it a villa.”
It seems in many cases, estates are able to boast of some feature rare among other homes. A perfect example is Meyers’ listing of a $14 million gated, castle-like residence in Clifton that sits on five acres.
“The walls of the chateau can withstand 3000-pound bombs from 100 feet,” said Meyers, adding that the owner is an architect and inventor who designed the walls for possible military applications.
“The amazing thing is that though they are 10 3/4 inches wide, before you pour in the ‘secret sauce’ they are very light and you can pick up a huge slab,” said Meyers, describing the walls. “They can be flown and put together in 10 hours time — great for marine barracks or embassies.”
Besides the patented walls, the home also features seven bedrooms, five full baths, an art gallery, an indoor pool and garage space for eight cars.
Coming up with a comparable market analysis can also be difficult for these luxury properties. The Clifton home Meyers is listing had a few appraisals. “[One appraiser] went out to Charlottesville to find something comparable,” said Meyers. “A little outside the three- to five-mile radius that’s usually used.”
READING THE FEATURES list from other properties selling in the area scream estate. In Herndon, Lisa Yungwirth, a Realtor with McEnearney Associates in McLean, lists a property offered for more than $3.3 million. Sitting on a wooded, five-acre lot, the brick home offers more than 1,000 square feet of deck space that looks out over its own private 3/4-acre pond.
“This majestic estate is a one of a kind property, located in a country setting,” said Yungwirth. “The five acres that accompany this manor home and guesthouse provide peace and tranquillity.” The property also includes a mahogany bar with wine chiller, a teak library and hot tub.
SITUATED BETWEEN Old Town Alexandria to the north and Mount Vernon to the south, a 25-acre, Alexandria property on the Potomac River, which is on land once owned by George Washington, is going for $10.5 million.
Listed by William Moody of Sotheby's International Realty at Washington Fine Properties, the estate is protected by a conservation easement to preserve its surroundings.
Dating from the 19th century, the federal-style residence features 18 rooms, including a new kitchen, six bedrooms, and seven and a half baths. An estimate of the monthly mortgage is $46,803, assuming a 20 percent down payment, a 30-year mortgage and an interest rate of 5.33 percent, according to listing information on www.realtor.com.
Of all the estates currently on the market, there is another listed by Washington Fine Properties on Chain Bridge Road in McLean that may even transcend the various estate definitions, conjuring up mythical images. The 5.5-acre property owned by Ethel Kennedy, wife of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has 12 bedrooms and 12 fireplaces. In the Kennedy family for over 50 years, the 19th century home also has two pools, a tennis court and stables.
“That’s a lot of land, especially in McLean, and its got panache because of the history,” said Meyers, who heard that the home was on the market. “It’s got everything."