Good Deal or Not? “Gracious entry” Edition


This home is located at 2803 11th Street, NW:

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The flier says:

“Totally charming bayfront Victorian in Columbia Heights. 3 BR’s and 2 FB’s. Gracious entry and grand staircase. Generous room sizes. Separate dining room. Updated table space kitchen. Excellent condition with great character and lots of period details. Beautiful hardwood floors and high ceilings. Fenced rear patio. Walk to Columbia Heights Metro and Target.”

You can find more info here and a virtual tour here.

Well 11th and 13th Streets, NW are some of my favorites streets so I was really looking forward to take a peek inside this one. It’s got some great bones though I was sad to see the fireplaces closes up. What do you think of the house itself? Does $629,000 sound reasonable for this 3 bed/2bath?

51 Comment

  • I would totally spend the money to open up those fireplaces again…

  • I live a block away from there so I hope it goes for that price. The inside is sweet. They kept most of the original details. I couldn’t tell if they closed up the fireplaces or if it’s those victorian fake fireplace fronts.

    The stairs are a little squeeky, but I really like the old ornate radiators there.

  • Very nice. Too bad they did away with the fireplaces.

  • Nice except for the neighborhood.

  • Covering the fireplaces on a remod like that seems like a short sited cure for a problem they did not have. I like the stairs but it does not look like the railing was redone. A couple hundred dollars spent in the back yard would of been a nice touch.

  • $629000 for that place? No no no and no. Maybe it looks nicer in person, but it really looks shoddily built in the pictures.

  • Having been inside, I can say that it really is a beautiful house.

  • Considering every room would need to be repainted… Too expensive. Did someone fail to tell them that neutral colors sell homes?

  • Does anyone know how much it costs to open up a fireplace?

    • I wanted to ask the same thing. What a shame!

    • Those were almost certainly coal-burning fireplaces, not wood-burning, so you’d have to convert them for wood-burning use and re-line the chimney. It would cost several thousand dollars per fireplace.

      • just to throw out a hard number, Priddy Cleaners were cleaning my chimneys and ducts and few years ago and asked me if i ever wanted my chimney lined so i could use my fireplace. they told me it would be about $3000, to line the 2 storey tall chimney.

  • I don’t know maybe a bit much in the current market/that location.

  • I like everything about it but the kitchen and the price. It’s kind of steep for Columbia Heights. And no one should ever have to pay $629k for a house that comes with the cheapest stove available at Home Depot.

  • $429,000 would be more like it.

  • @IHeartShaw – paint would cost around $600 – and wouldn’t you paint anyways so that it’s clean and fresh?

    I think its a fairly good deal but second Scott’s comments on sprucing up the back yard.

  • Fireplaces can be closed up for a variety of reasons. I believe that the most likely among them are that 1. the 100+ year old masonry in the chimney has degraded to the point where it is unfit for use; 2. the 100+ year old single flue chimney now vents a gas or heating oil fired furnace or water heater in the basement, making it impossible to use it for a wood fire; 3. the previous property owner sealed the fireplace in order to reduce the risk of a tenant burning the house down.

    If the masonry is decaying, it is likely prohibitively expensive to repair.

    If there is some other heat source using the flue, it could be possible to find another way to move the exhaust out of the house. You could also replace an old furnace or water heater with a new efficient model that could be vented with PVC…

    Sealed or not you should have your chimney inspected by a professional before using it for a wood burning fire.

  • No. $600K is ridiculous for housing anywhere.

    $250K tops. bring DC real estate back to reality.

  • In regard to the fireplaces. I live right around the corner in an almost identical house. The fireplaces in these houses where decorative and had tile insets in in them. In my house, I was able to restore one inset but the other literally crumbled… Looks like there fireplace insets were removed at some point.

  • If you show up with serious financial qualifications, I’m sure you can go below list -and- make the deal contingent on repainting. You might even ask for some stainless appliances — make them do the work.

    I can’t imagine this place going for less than $600,000.

  • Surprised at all the haters. Where are all these houses on or west of 11th street in Columbia Heights for less than $600k? Love this house, they kept original details including working transoms. Seems like a bargain for a whole rowhouse in CH. Housing prices arent about what you think they should be, they’re about what people are paying.

  • I doubt the fireplaces were closed. I agree with CH Family Man — they were likely decorative. We have the same situation in our house a couple of blocks away – even had the situation checked out by chimney guys — never were working fireplaces, just a vent for heaters, etc.
    It never ceases to amaze me how people are bothered by some ugly paint that’s easy to fix or a stove that easy to upgrade. If you are paying $500,000 paying a few hundred bucks for paint or even a couple thousand for a fancy stove should be no big deal & that way you get exactly what you want.
    What do people think about the location across from the school?

    • i’m so glad some sane people started posting! i was starting to wonder what was up with all the negative nancies. this house seems priced about right to me. it looks nice. agree *completely* re: those who don’t like the paint job or appliances. both fairly cheap changes for the buyer to make.

  • It’s priced close-to-right. I’m guessing under contract for something like 610k.

    And I’m with RD — why all the hate? Everything looks to be in decent shape, and it’s a 3/2 SFH with a private yard in a convenient location. The paint is fine, and if you were a buyer, wouldn’t you rather pick the color palette yourself after you buy it, anyway? Ditto that for the appliances, which you can replace for under $2500. As to location, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole if it were 3 blocks west, but along the 11th St corridor isn’t that bad.

  • It’s about $150k overpriced. Who would ever pay this much for a place that still has bars on the windows?

    • i looked at houses for 6 months before being able to buy a decent house in columbia heights for my price range. this house is at the right price. you obviously dont know what you’re talking about. west of 11th street is out of most people’s range now.

  • pretty rough neighborhood… you will have a good number of shootings within blocks of you.

  • I agree with everyone that’s saying this is priced about right. I can’t think of anywhere in NW where you’d expect to purchase a fully renovated Victorian for under $450K unless it was a short sale or foreclosure.

    Didn’t this have a finished basement too?

  • You’ll have a good number of shootings anywhere – summer’s coming.

  • This is basically one of the most crime ridden area in the city.

  • My wife and I are desperately looking for a place in CH like this one, and can say this is priced consistent with what other such properties are going for. Anything with 3BR and even remote curbside appeal is starting at $550K and going up depending on bathrooms and basement. I’d say this is a fair price.

  • I would go for it if I could afford it….

  • Those of you who are complaining about the neighborhood must live nowhere near Columbia Heights or Petworth, for that matter. Or you have never walked around. Seriously – the price is fine, even very good for the SF. Around the corner on Girard a townhouse was turned into two condos that just sold for something like $585k and $635k each.

    Where are all these cheap houses in CH? I’ll tell you. A bunch or armchair real estate junkies who are bitter because they can’t afford to buy in CH keep scouring Redfin for the cheapest listings they can find to justify their point. They don’t bother to look into the fact the buildings are vacant, deteriorated, uninhabitable, stuck in bankrputcy, or don’t have clear deeds.

  • I have a feeling that when it comes to this listing, and others like it, the folks who are saying it’s priced right are probably homeowners in the neighborhood, and for the sake of their own property’s value, they *hope* it’s priced right.

  • Looks like a nice place. Don’t see why all the hate.

    Paint colours shouldn’t scare you away. That’s just silly talk.

    When opening a chimney, I think the first thing you need to ask yourself is, “why am I opening it up?” Do you want to use it for a fire? Is your heart set on wood? Is a small gas setup acceptable? Or is just that the mantle surrounding a big ole space of nothing is, well, kind of ugly?

    As previous posters have noted, the actual opening is likely very shallow. Most of the homes built around the 1890’s were built to burn coal, so they had very shallow (13″ or so) fireplaces. Not at all acceptable for wood. Not even for pine mtn logs.

    If you want to go with gas, there are a few options out there for small openings that might work for you.

    As previous posters have also noted, most of the old chimneys in these homes are in horrible shape – the mortar in the fp itself, and in the chimney, is crumbling away. There may even be bricks dislodged in the opening. However, you could get lucky. You could find that they are fully lined with terra cotta pipes and in great shape as they’ve been sealed for 80 years now. If not, you get them lined with stainless steel venting. Not cheap, but not horrible either.

    If you want to open it for decorative reasons, hey, that’s really easy. Some nice tile, a cast iron insert, put your cat’s bed in there, and you’re good to go.

    As for the flu already being used for something – so this is the deal. Most of these houses had fps on the main floor and the second floor, and usually at least one stove in the basement. Meaning that most of the chimneys will have multiple flues. You can easily tell from the roof how many flues a chimney has.

    The fps were built out of brick, with a brick bottom and bricks under the hearth. The brick foundation of the chimney/fp go into the basement. So it’s really unlikely that the flu for any of the fireplaces is being used from underneath, because there is no flu underneath. The flu for the fp starts at the top of the fp. To use that flu from underneath, you’d have to put a hole in the brick floor from the fp (which is a bit crazy) or box out the front of the fp, bring the vent pipe up from the floor, bending it into the fp and up the flu. Clearly that is not the case with the ones in the fotos. So most likely, if the boiler and/or water heater are vented thru the chimney, it’s thru a second flu in the chimney, not the flu the fp is using.

    Final thought: These flues were not built with dampers. So if you do open it up, you’ll essentially have an open highway for airflow from the house to the great outdoors. Which is why most of them got sealed up in the first place – cheapest way to stop heat loss, birds, and didn’t want to make the inside presentable. If you want the fp for decorative use, easiest solution is to seal up the flu on top with bricks. If you actually want to use it, you can have a damper installed in the fp itself or get one installed on the top with a chain that hangs down the flu. The top mounts are airtight, and pretty easy for the average homeowner to install.

  • The backyard backs up on to a car detailing shop that, as the previous owners told me, is quite loud and profanity-laced in the warmer months – I’ve live around the corner for 9 years and it’s had at least 3 owners in that time. Safety-wise I think this area is fine.

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