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Sunday Open House: Monday Morning Quarterback

For Sale Signs
AP
For Sale Signs

I'm starting a new Monday feature: Monday Morning Quarterbacking, the Sunday alternative sports pages (no not the girl sports pages… all my friends are married already). I'm talking about the real estate pages, and the ultimate fighting sport, the Sunday Open House.

So, despite the sheets of pouring rain, I skidded over to a house in my neighborhood of Chevy Chase, DC -- no, not Maryland, as every cab driver would have you believe. This is under the district line, so you're not paying for great schools. Anyway, the house is listed at $1.695M, a bit high for our 'hood, but not unheard of if, it's got the goods.

"Gorgeous Spanish-style Villa w/commanding presence and pool-sized lot owned by the Belfiore family for 67 years. Sets of French drs open to wrap-around columned veranda, classic 1st flr feat Corinthian columns, deep crown mldings, walnut inlay oak flrs, high ceilings and sheer elegance. Entertain or just kick back in rare style and privacy so near the neighborhood conveniences of Chevy Chase."

Okay, bunk. Yes, this house has tremendous curb appeal. But, and my apologies to the Belfiore family, whoever they are, it hasn't been touched in 67 years. The kitchen, tiny and cramped, had metal countertops, and I'm not talking the upscale industrial kind that Baryshnikov had in his swanky SoHo loft in those last episodes of "Sex and the City." There was not a bathroom in this house that I would enter (two full, two half), even after a Venti skim latte, and the bedrooms (five) were positively tiny. One could barely fit in a queen-sized bed. I can't even say that the living/dining spaces were grand. As for the pool-sized lot, I'm slightly unclear if they meant in-ground or kiddie.

So I approached the agent, all dapper and smiling in the central foyer (him, not me), and, with an admittedly "what the hell?" look on my face, asked exactly how he had come to the aforementioned price. He immediately admitted that this was a sale by heirs -- a few brothers who apparently didn't agree on the worth of their parents' home, but that it was really all about the style and exterior of the home.

"One agent who came through claimed this is a $100,000 porch," he beamed.

Okay, the porch was nice, but a porch only goes so far as the front door, and most people tend to live inside the home, which needed easily close to a quarter mill to make it do-able by today's Viking/Kohler standards. Yes, this house had tremendous unique curb appeal, and I know that's worth a lot, but how much I ask you? In fact, you tell me, write into the Realty Check and tell me what you think curb appeal is worth, when the inside is a mess. I'd also like to hear about Open Houses in your neighborhood. Any of you snoopers have stories to tell? We'll post them every Monday as part of our post-game show.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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