Good Deal or Not? “marvelous woodwork throughout” edition

This home is located at 4205 Illinois Ave, NW:

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The flier says:

“This is a lovely old Petworth home – built in 1914 – with marvelous woodwork throughout the house. Even the front door is the original! And, sit on the front porch and enjoy Grant Circle.”

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

You dig the old wood? Does $459,000 sound reasonable for this 3 bed/1.5 bath?

And just down the block is a renovated home, 4 bed/3.5 bath at 4118 Illinois Ave, NW going for $549,900 ( photo tour here.)

Which do you think is the better deal?

24 Comment

  • This house is identical to mine (except for mine having two hanging plants instead of three…) and only a block away. And if it goes for $459, I might just sell mine without my wife knowing. My original front door is not really an asset, and I can’t imagine this one’s is either, except among the die-hards already in the neighborhood. Overall, I think $459’s a nice dream for someone stuck in 2007, thinking about what they’d like to get in 2010. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.

  • bfinpetworth

    I am buying a house nearby on 5th St. – closing next week. Its a fully (and very nicely) renovated home for $499000. I feel like I got a fair price on this house, and there were multiple offers. The original woodwork in the house listed above is very nice, but the house probably needs a lot of system updating, including possibly electrical, hvac, and plumbing. Plus only 1.5 baths is a serious limitation. And since there are no pictures of the kitchen, that says it ain’t too pretty. I think $459 is too high, but I also think the competition for homes in this neighborhood is heating up. So who knows – it doesn’t hurt to start a little high and take a lower offer. Best wishes to that homeowner! P.S. My partner and I are very excited to be joining this neighborhood. We move in next weekend!

    • Congrats alpha! If you’re buying the one at 5th and Randolph we’ll be close-ish neighbors!

      • bfinpetworth

        Thanks for the welcomes! We really do have a good feeling about this neighborhood. As two people relocating from Burlington, VT, this is a huge change, but the house and neighborhood just felt right.

        Our place is just north of Grant Circle at 5th and Webster. Between now and next Friday we have to move out of our house in Vermont, close on that sale, drive down to DC, close on the Petworth house, move in to that house, and move out of my apartment in Columbia Heights. Phew!

    • Welcome Alpha

    • Welcome to the neighborhood! You’ll find it’s a little less green and quiet than Vermont but maybe more than Columbia Heights 🙂 See you at Looking Glass! 🙂

  • 459 might be a bit high for something unrenovated and this far from the metro in Petworth, but what a great house! I would absolutely buy this one over the renovated one. Hopefully no one is interested for a while, friends of mine are going to be looking towards the end of Summer!

  • I just bought a house on Kansas that has an identical interior and is about 50 sq ft larger. And it looks to have been in the exact same condition (upon purchase)as this one. But I paid considerably less. So I’d have to say this is not a great deal. Such a bad deal, in fact, that Im considering showing up to the open house and offering potentials my house for $50k cheaper lol 😉

    • Heh…there is another one about a block further down from the Illinois house which is on a larger corner lot and has similar space for almost 100k less…I’m thinking that would more than cover any renovation work needed. The one in question has had the contract fall through at least once as far as I can tell. I’m saying nope on both of these.

      • I don’t know the particulars of why that contract fell through, but I’m pretty sure most contracts fall through because of difficulties with the buyer securing financing, so it’s entirely possible that it has nothing to do with the house.

        • Well…that is kinda my point: if you can’t find buyers who are truly qualified, or if the house won’t appraise well enough, then it’s over-priced. Houses that fall out of contract are not sales. I’m not saying it was an inspection defect specifically (though again, that would indicate it’s overpriced). In any case, let’s just agree there’s nothing “wrong” with the house at 4026 – no defects and it will appraise for $440k – it’s still larger, slightly closer to the metro and cheaper than the one at 4118.

          I just ran by this GDoN earlier and saw the agent coming out. I have not been inside. I’m with the $350k crowd.

  • “this far from the metro”

    I saw photos of the kitchen. It’s like a starter version that you can customize.

    I’m stuck in 2003. I think anything over $299k is too high for Petworth. But this house looks pretty good.

  • Welcome! We can always use a few more Vermonters around here…

    • bfinpetworth

      Thanks! We are sad to leave Burlington, its such a great town. But the jobs there, ugh. For such a small state, there do seem to be a lot of Vermonters down here.

  • Congratulations and welcome to the neighborhood. You are moving in right in the vicinity of my house. It is a great neighborhood!

    As for the this house, if it goes for anything over 400,000 I might have to put my house on the market!

    I think more realistically it should be somewhere in the 350,000-380,000 range.

    It seems houses in Petworth only break the 400 mark if they have central air, a completely new kitchen and at least another full bath.

    It would be a great house for someone who isn’t in the market for a completely gutted house but one that is nice and completely livable. Those seem to be rare in Petworth so maybe this will go for more than I think.

  • It’s nice but way overpriced. We tried to buy in Petworth for a few months and failed because we met unrealistic seller after unrealistic seller. Almost all of the houses we passed up are still on the market. Is a garden-variety Petworth rowhouse really worth nearly half a million bucks?

    We saw several enormous, fully renovated homes closer to the metro station for less than this and passed on them all. For a home like this, I would think it’s worth $350,000 and expect the sellers to be unrealistically asking for $400,000. $459,000 seems pie-in-the-sky, but maybe I’m the one misreading things? Can anybody tell me why a house like this should be worth $459, citing comps?

    • I doubt there are any comps because, well, it is over priced. However, I have noticed recently that houses that would have been in this range (450+) are now in the 500+ range (see 4118 Illinois).

      However, the 500+ houses seem to languish on the market. I would price 4118 Illinois closer to 499 and 4205 should be in the 350 range.

      This is a mid-range house.

  • there seem to be two classes in petworth that really can’t be used as comps for each other:

    1) original: no central AC, sleeping porches may still have exterior wall, original electrical, 1 to 1.5 baths, potentially have original floors & woodwork, original windows
    2) updated: heavied up electrical, central AC, enclosed sleeping porches, addition of baths, additions of closet space, possibly made into master suites, finished basements

    the latter category is where most of the 500ish places should fall in my mind. yes, some are soulless flips/renovations. but that infrastructure work (new plumbing, new electrical, central AC) is expensive and destructive, and worth the extra 100k+ to some (count me among them).

    as much as i love the woodwork in this place, unless i had a ton of money burning a hole in my pocket to do everything else necessary, the updated category is probably where i’d spend now. long term investors who are willing to wait years to get work done at the sacrifice of nearterm comfort stand to make a lot more money…but didn’t we all learn from the bubble that real estate isn’t necessarily a great way to invest?

    • I agree that real estate isn’t a great place to invest, especially now (not even in DC).

      But from my POV, if all properties are sitting on a bubble, in many cases it’s riskier to spend half a million on a renovated place than $300K on a place that needs some work. I’d rather have a $300K fixer-upper with significant equity than a $500K completed rehab with only a few % in equity. This will differ from area to area and is often a case-by-case decision (some people can get the $500K renovation with 20% down, but that ain’t me). I’d rather make the short term sacrifice for good mortgage terms and make upgrades as I can pay for them, but I recognize this isn’t for everybody.

      I think the people buying the luxury of a $500 rehab should be especially long-term minded in this market.

  • This house is almost exactly what we bought last summer, but priced about 50K too high in my opinion. We wanted a move in ready clean palate, but not completely renovated house in Petworth that we could grow into. Mostly because we could not afford the renovated ones. I can say for someone looking in the 350-400 price range, without potential structural issues, the houses go quick. Our kitchen is similar and works for now, but electric needs upgrading and the window AC units are going in this weekend! Our house in fact is a bit bigger since its the semi-detached style, has a significant backyard with 2 off street parking spots and we paid 399K for it. So, I say not a good deal, but am happy for our value if it goes for higher than 400K.

  • I’d say its over priced, but that woodwork is amazing.

  • Illinois is a nicer street than many others in Petworth, it is quiet…this is NOT far from the Metro, and some of the blocks farther from Metro are nicer anyway, with more trees and green space. The 64 bus is super convenient to downtown. Love the woodwork, some nearby houses don’t even have these kinds of details (columns etc.) and stripping lead paint off doors and trim is a huge PIA. No cracked plaster, but the kitchen will take at least 8 grand to finish properly. All that said this house will go for more than $380 but less than $435K.

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