Shifting Tastes And Opportunity


This is a story from Lee Arrowood of Compass D.C about a listing and sale of a Mid Century Modern home in Bethesda, Maryland that just closed this week. This was perhaps the most surprising and successful transaction of HIS real estate career:

On Friday September 9th at 12 noon, we listed 6608 Michaels Drive, an enchanting Mid-Century Modern, 4 bedroom home in the coveted Burning Tree neighborhood for just under $1.2 million.  Renovated in 1996 and 2006 by national award-winning architect Mark McInturff, the home celebrates the design legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright. We took care to price the home conservatively and the Sellers shared our thinking.

Early September showed signs of a shifting market and the Sellers were being realistic. They knew the renovations were far from new, and they worried that their passion for modern design might not find a broad audience in the DC marketplace better known for more traditional architecture and design.

Wow, did the market tell a different story! Between Friday afternoon and 2 PM on Monday - the offer deadline - we had 132 showings, 11 pre-inspections and well over 300 people through the home. Two of the showings were with buyers who flew to the area  - one from California and another from the Midwest - for the sole purpose of touring the home. The winning offer was from St. Louis buyers relocating to DC. Their contract was $430,000 over the list price with zero contingencies. 36% over list!

The successful buyers were hardly unique in their attraction to this property. From every buyer who came through the home we heard some version of the same story: "we love the design, the light and the use of space! This is one of the few listings we've ever seen in DC that truly captivated us."

The interesting insight to me is what it means for the changing aesthetic of the DC market. We are a town replete with traditional, colonial architecture, much of it built in the 20's and 30's. Homeowners have been renovating these homes for years in an attempt to create more open kitchen/family room space. But the reality is that traditional, colonial design - while beautiful - no longer aligns with how many of us live in a home.

People want rooms that connect more naturally and are less formally defined. They want spaces that can serve several different functions - from Zoom calls, to study space and to casual dining. They don't want to commit a significant portion of square footage to a single function that is only used a small percentage of the time. Further, we see buyers gravitating to spaces that more naturally connect indoors and outdoors - "light, openness, and green space" are at the top of every buyer wish list.

Modern design - while once considered a small but passionate niche of our market - is where a significant segment of our market is moving. It aligns with the more casual living, dining and entertaining needs of most households, as well as the desire to maximize the utility of space. Thankfully, we are seeing more modern construction at a variety of price points across our region.

While I have witnessed this evolution of buyer aesthetic over the past five years, the experience in selling this mid Century Modern home was - to me - a wake up call to developers and builders on where the affluent DC Metro market is headed.

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