Dear PoP, Actually, Dear Hipchickindc

carriage exterior

I have some questions that hipchick might be able to help me out with. I am constantly stalking carriage houses for sale in DC. I currently rent one, but would like to buy in the upcoming future. I have found a bunch of street houses with alley house/carriage houses for sale, but very few standalone carriage houses. When the alley communities were originally built, the alley homes and carriage house plots were subdivided from the main street facing houses and developed. Seems as that over time most were combined back together. Would it make any sense to try and make an offer on just the carriage/alley house if a seller is selling both as a unit, or would the offer get laughed off the table?

Lastly – is the market really this strong? This stand alone carriage house was bought in 2007 for $150k. Asking a million now, and it’s still a rehab project.

Hipchickindc’s response:

“Great question! I get asked a lot about carriage houses. I’ve seen really cool ones that I would love to live in or have studio space in, and recently represented the buyers of two development projects (one commercial & one that will be condo) where the carriage houses will be renovated into usable space. In both of those sales, the carriage houses were included in a lot that had another building on it.

There are two big issues with carriage houses in DC. There’s the one that you mentioned already, where the carriage house is part of a lot that includes a house or other building in front. I honestly can’t say what your chances would be for subdividing off a carriage house lot (or how responsive a Seller would be) due to the second issue.

The second issue is that despite there obviously being carriage houses that people have rehabbed and live in, depending on the location, you may or may not be able to get permits and/or a certificate of occupancy for it. I’ve heard that in some cases it’s because DC firetrucks can’t reach some of these properties, due to a narrow alley or lack of water source, which is a problem if it is residential. Some of these properties don’t have existing water or sewer connections, making the transition to residential difficult.

Occasionally I see listings for habitable carriage houses in Georgetown, LeDroit Park (great one sold a couple years ago between U & V/1st & 2nd), and here is one currently listed on the Hill:

I’d be very interested to hear PoP reader input on carriage house experiences in DC.

Regarding your inquiry about the property on 1st St NW listed for $1,000,000., it is an active listing. Since I live nearby, if someone would like to come along and pay $1,000,000. that’d be totally cool. We could use the bump in value. At the moment, there don’t look to be any sold comps that high.”

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