Good Deal or Not? “A Chamberlain Classic” edition

This home is located at 3726 9th St, NW:

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The flier says:

“It’s the New Place To Be! Just 1blk frm subway, cafe’, restaurants & shopping. A Chamberlain Classic w/ concentration on details that max space & function. An unfettered floor plan ornamented w/ hrdwd flrs, chair railings, cwn moldings & recessed lght. Gourmet kit w/ cabinet bay, granite tops & Maytag. MBR is south facing & drenched in sunlight. Entertaining bsmnt has BA, lndry & leads to garaged pkg”

You can find more info here and photos here.

What do you think of the reno? Anyone ever heard of a chamberlain classic before? Does $559,000 sound reasonable for this 3 bed/3.5 bath?

53 Comment

  • The usual hideous flip style. Who buys these things? Interesting that there is no “last sale price” on redfin. There usually is. Is it possible that flippers have a way to keep this info from appearing on redfin? I know a lot of buyers dont like seeing that the house they are considering shelling out half a million for sold 2 months prior for 180k. Buyers like to feel like they are getting a deal. Not lining the pockets of some House Flipping Group that has no design taste.

    • Yes, any homeowner can have the sale price withheld from the DC database. I’m not sure that prevents it from making it into the paper though.

      I don’t think it makes one bit of difference to an actual buyer what a “flipper” bought the house for. The people who can afford it are just trying to get the best house they can for their price range. If there are better renovated houses in their price range, they buy them. If not, they buy this one. People who can’t afford the house and complain don’t factor into the equation.

      The basic land cost in DC is around $300k, so very little moves for less than that. $200-$250k is a pretty reasonable renovation budget if you have to redo all the systems (Plumbing, Electrical, roofs, floors, kitchen). That puts you squarely in the $500k range. If you don’t like that renovation budget, call IBEW local 26 or the plumber’s trade union or the people who sell “trees” to make wood.

      There are some great housing deals in Cleveland and Detroit.

      The economic model is called, money talks and BS walks.

      • I’d argue money walks as well. I bought a house in mount pleasant last year. After looking at numerous houses I passed on a couple flips for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was because I didn’t think they put in enough money to warrant their profit margin. Both of those sold for less than asking. I do think there is a stigma to buying obvious flip jobs. I ended up in a home that was lived in and well cared for with the same bells and whistles and a lot more character. But all that said I still think this goes for half a mil. Location trumps all. Even with lame chair rail molding thrown about for no reason. And just as there are flippers with no taste. There are buyers with no taste.

        • Actually there are buyers with different tastes than yours. They may think your house is dated and stale with the very real potential for major repair work if the walls haven’t been opened up in while or the HVAC is near end of life. And their opinion would be just as valid as yours.

          • I see your point but as I said the house I ended up with was of the same caliber. And I took it for the precise reason that it wasn’t a flip. Which was my point to raggeddog. People can and do pass on flips because they are flips and because they dont think the mark up is worth it.
            I’d also argue that flips like this usually raise flags to buyers that work may have been done sloppy and corners cut, given the speed of the flip. Flipping crews arent known for their thoroughness. They aren’t even aware the house faces east after all.

          • Just curious, in what ballpark was the settled price of your home? I ask because I think that really dictates what drives folks’ decisions in this market. There have been only 10 or so SFH/townhouses sold in MtP under $500K in the past two years according to Redfin, which puts the assumed price of your place outside of the range for most first timers (the subject of this post notwithstanding, I do think that one is overpriced). If our budget was $500K+ ABSOLUTELY would we have ended up with a different place. But seeing as our range topped out closer to $400K there wasn’t much there that was not a flip or a complete and utter sh*thole.

            In speaking with agents who deal primarily in “up and coming” ‘hoods I get the sense that this is pretty common. There is HUGE demand for livable SFH in the $300-450K range. Anything under that is snapped up by flippers who come in with cash, something regular buyers just can’t compete with. Most listings un-renovated but still in that range aren’t as attractive to buyers who wouldn’t have the budget for major repairs in the first couple of years of ownership. Above that range you have leeway, the un-reno’ed stock has much better bones or is at least livable. It’s interesting to see how the market has kind of settled into that groove.

            And I don’t begrudge people who wold buy a $500 or $550K+ flip no matter what others think. The VAST majority of buyers have very little interest in lifting a finger for home repair beyond painting and yard work; they want turnkey mechanicals and structure. Yes, you have to watch out for really crappy flips, and I’m sure some folks are getting burned by what they thought LOOKED like a nice reno. There are several cosmetic flaws to our place, but the structure and important bits are sound. Walls can be painted, tile replaced and uneven kick moulding fixed pretty easily. Something we can live with until time and budget allow.

    • As said below, folks that can do better for the money will. Unless you have the cash to purchase the land/existing structure (cold, hard cash, not the financing), a budget to finance the reno and still afford to pay rent/mortageg in your current place while the reno is done (assuming a real gut job), or the free time and talent and patience to do it yourself as a live in job then what choice is there? Agreed, I’d like to see more flippers stop opening up the downstairs spaces, but I’m guessing that it’s much cheaper to keep the walls down after a total tear out, and the market has spoken for open floor plans no matter how painful they may be to some design aesthetes.

      We bought a “flipped” house, and thank god they kept the walls (we have a distinct living and dining room). Would we have preferred that they restored the pocket doors and not tiled over the wood floors in the kitchen and removed the lead paint on the original bannister instead of sealing it with a layer of fresh paint? Sure. But then we wouldn’t have been able to afford the house. These are things that any semi-competent person can do (OK, I haven’t really dared to muck with the pocket door yet 🙂 ).

      As has been said on this site many times, flippers serve a purpose. The percentage of people in this area who could either afford a high-end, period correct reno in a given neighborhood or have the ability to take it on themselves is probably much less than < 10%. Cruel, soulless flipper companies get abandoned, dilapidated or otherwise crappy properties back on the market as livable spaces. In the end that is usually good for the neighborhood on balance.

      • After about the 24th continuous month of live-in house renovation, with no clear end in sight, I’d have to say buying a flipped house even with crummy finishes is vastly superior to doing the work oneself while living in it.

        However, it was the only way to get the house I got.

        • Your posts freak me out because you COULD Be my husband talking but you obviously aren’t. Weird!

    • The last sale price was $277K on 4/26/2010 to 3726 9TH STREET LLC. It’s also in the DC tax database, and as far as I know you can’t have your information removed from there.

    • The house previously sold for $277K.

    • “Who buys these things?” Apparently, by people who aren’t as uptight and unhappy as you. Are you like this in real life or is this your keyboard persona?

  • It’s your typical bland flip but i am guessing it will fetch asking price. people like renovated houses steps from the metro.

  • I wouldn’t say its a good deal, but more important, the listing agent’s name is awesome: Wyvongela Watson!

  • this house faces east. Yet magically the masters fills with light from the south facing windows?

  • $560k for Petworth!?!?! You have to be kidding me. Petworth is a good 10 yrs from complete gentrification. Otehr parts of the city gentrified faster/better (Logan Circle, U St, currenly H St). At that price, you can get a little gem on Capitol Hill that needs a little TLC (not complete overhaul, but cosmetic updates).

    • I was with you until you said H Street? H Street has “gentrified” faster/better than Petworth? You clearly live/own there to lump it in with LC and U Street. Let me try…

      Georgetown, Spring Valley, and Congress Heights are all better places to live than Petworth… see what I did there?

      Petworth, particularly this area, has its problems, but to put H Street in a tier above Petworth is insanity.

      • I agree this person is either biased or doesnt know what they are talking about but their point about speed of gentrification carries weight. H street is moving at light speed and will likely catch up in status to petworth sooner than later. Georgia Ave hasn’t budged in years. All the donetelli development hasn’t ushered in a thing save a 5 dollar footlong.

      • I live in Upper CH/Petworth and putting H Street a tier above Petworth in terms of gentrification is not “insanity.” It depends on your definition of “gentrification.” If it means a sizeable and growing population of bars, clubs, shops, and restaurants that cater to upper income customers, coupled with already high and only increasing real estate values, then yes H Street is at least a tier above Petworth. It’s not U St or Logan Circle, but it’s farther along than Petworth.

      • Nah, sadly, I am not the biggest NE Cap Hill fan but H Street has WAY more going on than Petworth at the moment. I just feel that Petworrth has preferable affordable housing stock (at least for now.) And part of it depends on your work and friends – where are they located?

    • Who said “complete gentrification” is the ultimate goal? I don’t even know what that means. If you move here you have to know that you will be surrounded by people from all walks of life. You probably will be for a very long time. And a lot of people actually appreciate that. I like it better than being in logan circle apartment building with a bunch of douchebag neighbors.

      Bottom line is that this is a great neighborhood to hang your hat, and it is an exciting time for it with the building of new restaurants, shops, and housing. You aren’t getting a renovated full rowhouse right by the metro in many neighborhoods for this price.

  • Seems like a rather large markup – $250k. I doubt the flip cost anywhere near that.

    I disagree that “correct pricing” can be arrived at by looking at the land price and adding some “appropriate flip cost”. It is “what the market will bear” – in other words – a flip has to compete with comparable size and location housing stock; the value of the fresh paint is…elastic.

    I’m doubtful about the $559; I think they’re wanting $500 and leaving room to advertise “price reduced”.

    Once again: I’d buy a shell/tear-out and be my own contractor. This is a not great deal, IMO. We’ll see…

    • It’s more about the philosophical debate of “flippers are evil and selfish” vs the actual numbers in any specific house. The original statement was oh gosh, someone’s selling a house for X, when they probably bought it for Y. That’s just sour grapes, not a constructive criticism of a property.

      You’re onto something though. The renovation cost has to fit within the purchase price and the “market will bear” value. Most people complain about the “market will bear” value vs. the purchase price without having the first clue what the renovation cost is. It’s not A + B = C, it’s C – A leaves you B dollars to work with.

    • price is not based on cost, its based on value.

      you’re paying a flipper not only for acquisition cost, materials, and labor, but also for assuming a great deal of risk – risk of unseen problems, delays, collapsing real estate markets, etc. they are putting capital to work on this project that could be otherwise deployed. to fail to recognize this (or begrudge it as unfair) is to completely fail to understand markets.

  • one of the “community amenities” photos appears to be of a sidewalk and trash can.

  • Did anyone else happen to catch the 20,000 sq. ft. posting on Redfin? It works out to $28 a square foot. Sweet.

  • I’m still lost on “A Chamberlain Classic”. From the pic the house looks lie a Wardman. I assume this is the flipper/investment company?

    • Yeah… that’s not a distinct style. Except for the kitchen, which they appear to have flipped over to the back wall to make room for the half bath, it’s the same exact layout as a classic Wardman house. Maybe Chamberlain was just a different guy who built Wardman-style houses.

    • saf

      Chamberlain was a builder. So was Wardman. People just fixate on the Wardman name, because it is the one they know.

      • saf

        And I just looked up the original building permit for this house. It was built by D.J. Partello, so there goes that theory. There was a builder named Chamberlain though!

  • wtf is a champerlain classic, anyway?

  • bfinpetworth

    I bought a flip last month in Petworth. My previous home in Vermont was built at about the same time and we bought it as a fixer-upper. Lived in it and renovated it. It was hell. There is a premium to buying a “new” house and being able to immediately enjoy it without the headaches. Renovating while living in a house is a nightmare and can strain the best relationships – my partner and I made a very conscious decision to never do it again. We are very happy with our flip!

    Having said all that, we fell in love with the house we purchased precisely because, although a flip, the builder did do a nice job of maintaining the classic character. The main floor is fairly open but there are some defining walls between the kitchen and living room, with a defined foyer also. We appreciate the classic elegance rather than the modern coldness of some of the totally open-floor flips we looked at. Also, is anyone else tired of seeing that brown/black granite in kitchens? You can’t make an average kitchen a high-end kitchen simply by throwing some granite on the countertops. Our builder took an alternative route and used classic white marble counters with french country cabinets. The result is a nice clean vintage look.

    Ultimately, though, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many people prefer the totally open floor plan offered in many flips. No sense in judging. The end result is that the neighborhood has an improved home.

    As an aside, there is a creepy empty house next door to ours with a for sale sign in the window. Owner is asking $245 for it. I’m hoping an evil flipper buys that house and I don’t care what the inside looks like – the outside will look infinitely better and I will be a wee bit happier homeowner! Check out the house for sale on 5th Stree just north of Grant Circle – I think it may be a good deal for any flippers out there!

    • My wasting time hobby is looking at real estate in the neighborhood. The house you bought was a really great renovation. I remember looking at the pics and thinking it a was really nice flip a million times better than this one.

      Sounds like you are enjoying the new place!

  • Do any of these flippers do anything about the lead paint in these old houses? Unless they take everything to the studs, I’m guessing a bunch of these houses have walls that are covered in lead paint and they just put one coat over it, which I believe is not the proper abatement process.

    • Whatever… If you are over 25 I am sure you grew up with lead paint.

    • I sent a Dear PoP email about lead abatement a few months back. From what I’ve read, the best thing to do is leave the lead paint in place unless it is actually flaking or chipping. If some idiot decides to tear down all the plaster without taking proper precautions, they can make the lead hazard much, much worse than if they let it be.

      We have plenty of lead paint in our house, including some chipping original windowsills which prompted the Dear PoP. Re-installing a baby gate recently, I discovered that our baseboards also have lead paint. Based on the color of the paint that seems to contain the lead, I suspect it’s on the walls, too. Even with all that, my son’s 1-year-old lead test (required by DC) came back at at 1 ug/Dl, well below the “actionable” level of concern. We’re still debating how to deal with the chipping paint, but the stuff that’s intact is staying intact.

      So, that’s my long way of saying that this isn’t something 1) you really need to worry that much about and 2) you don’t want a lazy house-flipper screwing around with. I disagree with Frankie James that lead paint is a big “whatever” but it’s also not as unbelievably hazardous as some might make it seem.

    • if they do something about lead paint then all the whiners complain they have destroyed its historic character.

    • You believe wrong. Covering lead paint is the preferred method of abatement… removal is not the best option.

    • yeah, I gnawed on a lot of lead paint as a kid. my brain is already rotten and can’t get any worse. and I don’t want my kids to be any smarter than i am.

  • It might need another bedroom (or rental basement) and a yard to be worth that much.

    I like the open first floor (you can entertain/watch kids while making dinner), with a more traditional bedroom area/second floor with walls.

    • bfinpetworth

      Agree the lack of yard is a downside. And as far as I can see, there is no door into the garage from the backyard – do you have to walk around into the alley to get to the car in the garage???

  • I actually went to the open house for this one on Sunday (happened to be passing by) and gave it a once-over. The reno seemed half-assed to me. The skylight was already cracked, causing some stuff to leak into the master bath! The basement ceiling were real low, but that’s pretty standard. Closet space was ample though and what little backyard there is, is quite cute. Oh, and the only entrance to the garage is from the alley. All in all, I’d only consider this house if the price was slashed, A LOT.

  • Nobody seems to have mentioned this yet, but that block is BAD. It’s proximity to the metro is great, and I am sure it will get better in time, but it’s a narrow street, and it seems like every other time I walk by it on Rock Creek Church on the way to the metro, there are cop cars blocking the end of it. Lots of shadiness for now.

    Even if the clientele cleans up in time, it’s just not that nice of a block physically, narrow, tiny front yards up steep stairs.

  • Tim Chamberlain is the flipper. The properties always look good, but the work is cheap. I bid on one of his properties a few months ago, and lost out to a higher bidder. I understand that the list of issues the inspector found was two pages long, single spaced, and that the owners had major plumbing issues to deal with within the first week after they moved in.

  • I recently bought a flipped house because I did not want to make any renovations myself. The price and availability were better than VA. The builder did a nice job with the design and finishes. The builder made a nice profit, and deserved it for negotiating the deal to buy the house in the original condition and assuming the risk. The problems lie in the details that get missed while looking as a potential buyer. These jobs are rushed. I had major plumbing, electrical and a/c problems. The work was under warranty, but I had to spend a lot of time away from work to facilitate the contractors getting in and out. Flips are a norm for this neighborhood. Make sure the builder has a good reputation. Make damn sure the home inspector runs the water for a while in every drain and flushes the toilets repeatedly. Write up everything problem or potential problem in the home inspection report, and get a warranty in the sales contract. You will be better off when the problems occur, and they will occur.

    That said, I think this is a fair price for the look and location.

  • have you seen the bars on the house next door! WOW It’s like a chunk of alcatraz broke off.

  • I’m surprised no one who has seen this place hasn’t mentioned one the biggest problems: the bedrooms are insanely small. My husband and I thought it might have great potential when we saw the pics. Unfortunately, when we actually walked through, we couldn’t even imagine how you could put anything bigger than a queen in the master and even then we would have some serious issues getting around the bed if either of us gained any weight! The other rooms also weren’t very functional size-wise.

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