Unreal Estate Condo Market

Unreal Estate Condo Market

In 2001, two condos sold for more than $500,000 in Fairfax County. This year, through September, buyers paid more than half a million dollars for 98 condos in the county.

It’s a similar story for Arlington County. Four years ago, eight condos priced at $500,000 or more sold, but this year 119 have changed hands.

Condos, long considered the runt of the housing market, have been on a 10-year selling streak, typically outpacing the previous year’s record sales marks, according to the National Association of Realtors. And, despite a bust in the early 1990s, their appeal in and around major urban markets has only grown.

In 2003 for the first time, the price of condos in the U.S. began outpacing detached single-family homes.

Now, condos are being built twice as fast as they were in 1999, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Already considered cash cows, condo developments seem to squeeze out even more bang for the buck by catering to the affluent. In Northern Virginia, Arlington used to have the very high-end condo market cornered with places like the Weslie, the Representative and the Crystal Gateway — all of which were built 20 or more years ago and have $1 million-plus condos currently on the market. While new and upcoming luxury high-end condo developments proliferate in Arlington, McLean and Reston have also become breeding grounds for lavish condo living.

With names like the Palladium in McLean and the Stratford in Reston, built in 2001 and 2005 respectively, developers are clearly marketing both luxury and exclusivity. The Palladium Web site says their homes are for the "very few who expect the very best."

These condo developments feature every possible amenity from gourmet kitchens to extravagant bathrooms. In addition, most provide gym-quality fitness centers, pools and concierge services. Some that are still under construction — like the Midtown in Reston with prices up to $1.6 million and the Monroe in Arlington with prices up to $1.75 million — hope to mimic the service of five-star hotels.

Turnberry Tower in Arlington, now under construction, includes condos priced from $600,000 to more than $6 million. Some condos, at more than 5,000 square feet, are bigger than most single family homes.

While these luxury condos attract a wide range of buyers, the empty-nesting baby-boomers and young professionals seem to be the biggest groups looking to buy. But quite a few investment buyers also look to strike it rich with these properties. Melvin Aragon, 30, said he bought a luxury unit in the Carlton House in Reston as an investment about a year ago. "I bought it for $520,000 and it’s already worth $700,000."

Here’s a look at a few condo units in the area currently on the market with price tags exceeding $1 million.