Dreams can lead to greatness. Just ask famed Potomac Real Estate Broker Moussa Moaadel, the founder of a renowned real estate firm bearing his name that began in 1968 and specializes in the sale of high-end homes, land, and investment and commercial properties.
As a young boy Moaadel dreamed that the late Shah of Iran presented him with a dazzling gift: a glittering sword bejeweled with diamonds, emeralds and rubies. The regal logo for Moussa Moaadel Realtors does in fact pay tribute to Iran’s previous imperial logo: two crowned lions adorn a gilded crown and the real estate broker’s initials. Moaadel’s father took his son’s dream as a sign of promise for the young boy and encouraged him to move to the United States to map his future. With only $137 in his pocket and just one suitcase upon his arrival to America, Moaadel would become, through perseverance and hard work, one of the most successful real estate brokers in the country. “If you have resoluteness of purpose and persistence, you are bound to succeed in any field,” remarks Moaadel with a smile, his hazel eyes lighting up. Travel anywhere in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac or upper Montgomery County or Frederick County and there is a good chance you will see properties sold or developed by Moussa Moaadel Realtors.
Not only does he have the title of Emeritus of National Association of Realtors, Moaadel is a caring and compassionate voice in his medical community, and he has a genuine concern for the well-being of others. He recently has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Holy Cross Health Foundation. He remembers as a child “I always wanted to help people in need. Serving as the Ambassador of Holy Cross Hospital is one of the highlights of my life.” He adds, “This is a great hospital, my grandson was born there.”
Moussa Moaadel has had transactions with dignitaries, celebrities, ambassadors, prominent community leaders and a president of the United States. Adorning the walls of Moaadel’s office, located in a gleaming black glass building in Friendship Heights, Maryland, are framed newspaper articles chronicling the firm’s success. Prominently displayed is the deed of sale to Moaadel of a home in Alexandria, Virginia owned and occupied by President and Betty Ford. His purchase meant more than just another real estate transaction: “Twelve years after I came to this country I ended up buying President Gerald Ford’s house!”
The fact that Moaadel actually succeeded in buying the property is a tale in itself. Gerald and Betty Ford custom built the colonial-style brick house in 1955 when Ford was a congressman from Michigan. The Fords decided to sell it when he lost the election in 1976 and planned to move to Palm Springs. During that time Moaadel was working as a real estate agent in the office of Shannon & Luchs in Rockville. As soon as he heard the Alexandria house was for sale he immediately sent in a deposit and a contract. Sight unseen. At first he was told that another buyer had already sent in a contract that was accepted. Upon hearing that Moaadel was devastated, but not for long. He remembers exactly what happened a short time later that January: “I was driving late in the morning, with several of my co-workers, when an announcer interrupted the music we were listening to on the radio and stated that “President and Mrs. Ford have decided to sell their home to Moussa Moaadel! ” “ I immediately returned to the office when there were 12 lines on the phones, all blinking.” Foster Shannon informed me that the press, including reporters from NBC and CBS, were on the phone, as well as the White House. “They all wanted to tell me how to deal with the media,” The resulting publicity was worldwide: “ The news was on the front page of every newspaper all over the world,” he remembered.
Gerald Ford wrote to Moussa: “... your cooperation and discretion was appreciated. Betty, the children and I had many wonderful years in that home. I hope it provides you with the same type of happiness we enjoyed.” For Moaadel, being able to live in the home of the former American president was its own reward. He respectfully maintained the residence as a sort of homage to the former president. The real estate broker moved in and kept the house for 22 years and the home was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
What is the driving force for his success? The irrepressible Moussa has an interesting climb-to-success story. He recounts an incident from his childhood that may help account for his ambition to be successful: When he was eleven his mother promised him that if he read the Bible out loud to her she would buy him his favorite thing to play with, a scooter. He complied and finished reading the Bible to her whenever she was available to listen. And, as promised, his mother took him to buy his reward. Sadly, she discovered that she could only afford to buy him a ball. He still recalls that incident vividly.
The sale of President Ford's home to Moaadel was the culmination of an amazing journey. With his father's encouragement Moussa became the first in his family to leave Iran, traveling to Tel Aviv, and then bordering the S.S. Israel for an adventurous 16-day trip in the sea from Haifa, embarking in New York in 1964. Later he brought his parents to this country during the Iranian Revolution. Moaadel went to Kentucky State University, studied Liberal Arts and then came to Washington D. C. finding employment at the Occidental and Rive Gauche restaurants. He worked hard, saved his money, attended the real estate school at The American University and plunged into the real estate business during a downturn cycle. His first transaction was the sale of a house for $18,000. “It is not just about relentlessness and perseverance; success is about the passion to achieve your goal,” says Moaadel with a glimmer in his eyes.
The real estate magnate has developed and sold 800 lots in Maryland and Virginia. Moaadel maintains that real estate is the solid foundation of the U.S. economy. Through the years he has been involved in the sale and hands-on development of residential, commercial and investment real estate. Now his company is a family affair: his son, Sean, works as an associate broker for him. He is also busy raising two younger daughters he obviously adores: nine-year-old Scarlett and seven-year-old Penelope.
Undoubtedly Moussa Moaadel’s impressive sale of major properties makes him well known and respected in his profession. From the sale of 150 acres he developed 357 lots in Potomac Chase and from the sale of 149 acres on River Road he developed 29 lots, which he named “Rive Gauche Estates” after the Rive Gauche Restaurant where he worked as the headwaiter during his college days. Among his multiple other land development transactions, Moaadel has sold: 321 acres on Piney Meeting House Road; 42 acres on River Road, resulting in the Ardnave development; the 125-acre Corcoran Estate, which is the present site of the Glenstone Museum in Potomac; 400 acres on Darnestown Road; 52 acres on Signal Tree Road; 90 lots on Quince Orchard Road; an assemblage of 14 buildings in Rosslyn Virginia; sale and development of 39 lots on Travilah Road named Natalie Estates after his firstborn; sale of 177 acres in Buckeystown, Frederick that he developed into 22 lots; and the sale of 42 acres for the Belle Terre development. These are only some of the major properties with which Moaadel has been involved. He has re-sold some of these properties several times after their initial sale.
A man of many interests and talents, Moaadel has build a spectacular 50-foot x 25ft waterfall in his backyard, where the soothing music of the fall helped to put his infant daughters to sleep. He loves traveling and has collection of sand samples from over 100 beaches around the world.
Moussa’s mother always told him the story of King Nader, the Persian King, whenever she found him discouraged after failure. After being defeated in war three times, King Nader watched an “ant” carrying a stick to the top of a short wall in his court yard,12 times dropping it midway until succeeding on the 13th try. He decided he is not less than an “ant”... he determined to try to go to battle for the same war for the fourth time and found triumph.