It’s almost the plot of a reality TV show. Three neighbors who love their Bethesda neighborhood witnessed the purchase and demolition of home after home, all of which possessed that elusive quality of warmth that’s imbued in their 1940s colonials. There was a rumor that a neighborhood home, owned by one family since it was built in the 1950s, was about to land on the market.

  • A family-owned home in an older Bethesda neighborhood was bought by a neighborhood partnership.
  • The three say that wanted to save it from becoming a McMansion.
  • The home has been on the market for more than three months.

It’s almost the plot of a reality TV show.

Three neighbors who love their Bethesda neighborhood witnessed the purchase and demolition of home after home, all of which possessed that elusive quality of warmth that’s imbued in their 1940s colonials.

There was a rumor that a neighborhood home, owned by one family since it was built in the 1950s, was about to land on the market.

They are a mixed bag of professionals, but with knowledge of the inner workings of the real estate industry– a Justice Department official, a real estate lawyer and a high-end home designer.

The three, lawyer Diane Rosenberg, designer Brad Creer, and Sheila Lieber, the Justice Department deputy, formed a limited liability company and contacted the family that had owned the home since it was built, paying $1.275 million before it ever officially went on the market.

The tidy post-World War II neighborhoods were sacrificed, parcel by parcel, given over to what’s popularly called “McMansions”– thousands of square feet of high ceilings and higher-end fixtures, with more bathrooms than occupants to use them.

Last year, a developer known for his McMansion predilection was honing in on a 1940s Cape Colonial at 7812 Oldchester Road poised to be listed, the trio of heroes put their heads – and their cash – together.

They came up with a plan to make the purchase themselves and instead turn the charming property into their own, neighborhood-appropriate version of a modernized home.

In short order, the three came up with $2 million to purchase the property and lovingly renovate it into a six-bedroom family home. The home, on its more than 16,000 square foot treed lot, fits into the Bradley Woods neighborhood without overpowering it.

They doubled the size of the home to 4,400 square feet, and gave it more modern features, such as an updated kitchen, a bigger living room and a stone fireplace. More than $600,000 was said to be spent on the refresh. All the while, the three tried to bear in mind that the family who owned the house since it was built and their affection for it. 

But instead of manufactured drama and a season-ending cliffhanger, the group has not yet been successful at their hyperlocal flipping attempt.

On the market since late August, its weathered one price reduction, from the original asking price of just shy of $2.4 million to $2.175 million. It’s already languished on the market far longer than the Bethesda average of about two months.

Other real estate pros and the family of the sellers of the home commend the sentiment which drove the three partners to take this gamble.

Even though developers are making expensive and expansive inroads into the Bethesda area, some, like the three protagonists in our imaginary reality series,  want the character of what’s there preserved.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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