Long & Foster started as a small real estate firm in Fairfax in 1968, just as the Northern Virginia region was undergoing a housing boom. The suburbs of D.C. were about to explode with growth, from Columbia, Maryland, to Alexandria, Virginia and beyond, while the company grew to more than 11,000 agents and 220+ offices in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
What styles of architecture did these residential building booms bring? Here are a five of the most popular kinds of homes that have changed hands in the region over the past 50 years.
Colonial. Hands-down the king of residential architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region for the past five decades. These homes have been described in architectural shorthand as “five over four and a door,” referring to five windows on the second floor centered over a door that’s flanked by four more windows.
The style is classic and practical for family living, with private areas upstairs and living areas on the first floor, said Jane Applegate, a real estate agent for 44 years with Long & Foster. Often, there’s a basement for storage, utilities and recreational space.
“I’ve had buyers coming in from other areas say they wish we had something here other than colonials, but they buy them, because they see the future resale value,” Applegate said. “Other styles have come and gone, but the colonials have stayed No. 1.”
Rambler. Also popular is the one-story brick or wood-sided rancher or rambler, usually sited over a basement that could be walk-out or entirely underground. Agents say these homes are enjoying some resurgent popularity among buyers of existing homes, because they are conducive to mid-century modern and uncluttered Scandinavian decorating styles favored by many of today’s homebuyers.
“What’s become popular, which is surprising to some of us, is the rambler,” said Sarah Funt, a Long & Foster agent based in Bethesda. “Mid-century is the new, hip thing. Center-hall colonial was the No. 1 selling home for a very long time, but it’s starting to be arts and crafts and mid-century ramblers.”
Split Level. Funt said she’s seeing some resurgent popularity of this style as well, among buyers of existing homes. It’s also conducive to mid-century and modern-style décor. Many of these homes were built in the region in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
The style features a level on which you enter, which is usually a kitchen and living area. A short flight of stairs leads up to bedrooms and another set of steps goes down to recreation and utility areas.
Contemporary. Many of these homes were also built in the region in the 1960s and 70s. They’re sort of the anti-colonial, with asymmetric roof lines and large openings that make it feel like the house blends with nature. More recently, an expanded and updated version of the style has become popular in areas of the region with large, wooded lots, such as McLean, Virginia, said Warren Ralston, of W.C. Ralston Architects, in Chantilly, Virginia.
“People’s ability to see different styles, for example on Instagram or Houzz, has transformed their desire to have homes in styles like the contemporary style,” Ralston said. “Before, people might fall in love with a house they saw in California, and that style might make its way here a few years later. Now, they can look at a house on social media that’s just been finished in Monterrey and have it designed and built here.”
Craftsman. The style has been popular in America for over a century. It usually has a front porch with columns and makes use of wood, stone and cedar shake exteriors. Craftsman architecture has gained popularity in recent years – even as in-fill housing to replace older homes in established neighborhoods. In the past 10 years, they have become popular in new construction.
In 50 years of buying and selling, Long & Foster has sold just about every kind of house imaginable. If you are looking for your perfect style of home, visit LongandFoster.com to find an agent.