Good Deal or Not? “serene Victorian w soaring ceilings” edition

This house is located at 1515 12th St, NW:

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The flier says:

“Walk everywhere! Enjoy hip Logan Circle then retreat to this serene Victorian w soaring ceilings, vast rooms, pocket doors, classic moldings. Endless opportunities for entertaining w. new kitchen, formal LR & DR, powder rm, rear deck. Huge MBR suite on top lvl with luxurious BA, private terrace. LL fam rm, in-law suite provides income potential.”

You can find more info here and a mouse on house tour here.

Does $889,000 sound reasonable for this 4 bed/3.5 bath?

69 Comment

  • Seems like a decent price – but the floors look rough, there is a hole in the stairs and the bathroom on the 2nd floor looks a bit worn – all lead me to question the level of maintanence this house recieved. Get the best home inspector yuo can find for this deal for sure.
    Even in that condition it’ll sell around that price – maybe $5K off before settlement.

    • What’s the point of knocking $5K off a $900,000 house?

      • Would you take $5,000 off a car? Same thing. If someone said I’ll give you $5100 if you give me $100, would you do that? Same thing.

        Also, at today’s jumbo rate (5.125) $5,000 extra would cost an extra $4800 bucks over the course of the loan… So really, that $5k is closer to 10k over 30 years. If someone handed you a 10,000USD 30yr bond, would you take it?

      • My point (not well made) was that:
        1- this is a fair price
        2- it’ll likely go for asking
        3- there appear to be maintenance issues with this house and when it goes into settlement – there will likely be a reduction so with that it’ll probably sell for around $885K or so.

  • Its scary that this location commands this price, but its a gorgeous house and it will likely get this price.

    • It’s a great location and it’s big: either a 3BR + den + in-law suite or 4BR + in-law suite, depending on how one counts. It’s a good deal and will move quickly.

      • Thanks for arguing with me by agreeing with me. Its a great location to YOU, but its SHOCKING that this city has gotten so expensive that 12th and RI Ave is now $800,000.

        • I didn’t think we were arguing, but if you’d like to:

          It’s shocking to YOU, not to me or many other people. I think it’s the consensus of residential real estate professionals in this town that this is a great location; it’s not just my subjective opinion, it’s the opinion that’s reflected in the market.

          But yes, I agree with you that at one time the value at this location was much lower and the neighborhood at that time was much seedier . . . and, also, the sky is blue.

          • I should have known you were a “real estate professional” and by that, I assume you mean residential selling agent. Listen, I love Logan Circle. I remain shocked (interestingly, you interpret shock as being negative) that $900k is an appropriate price for Logan Circle. The time you speak of was not that long ago. Granted, 5 yrs ago this place sold for $805,000 but I bet 8 years ago it sold for half that, 15 years ago probably less than $200,000. I do think the magnitude of this type of asset appreciation is scary. I dont think its bad, but there are negative consequences of rapidly increasing home prices – and I’m not talking about a bursting bubble. For one thing, it leads to more real estate agents. Just Kidding. Or am I?

          • I never said I’m a real estate professional.

            There’s a difference between a bubble and a shift in fundamentals. It’s my understanding that DC has experienced a shift in fundamentals over the past 25 years that has led to a realignment of real estate value. All of the reasons for this shift begin and end with federal government spending and the explosion of government contracting.

            Of course, the recent unpleasantness in the US residential real estate market has everyone nervous about value, even those of us with faith in DC real estate. After all, no one has a crystal ball. But I think there are very good reasons to think the values in Logan and similar neighborhoods are sound, not speculative. Also, I don’t think the shift has been scary.

  • It could use a lot of updating, but if the mechanical systems, roof and windows/doors are good, that’s a lot of house for the price.

    I live a few blocks east of there, and the neighborhood is ok and every block going towards this house gets better, so the $ for the neighborhood seems right to me.

  • I would say good deal– the only down side is lack of parking.

  • Seems like a potential money pit (for obvious things like central AC, floor work, as well as for things that just go wrong on older homes), but what house doesn’t qualify as that? I still think that size and location and with updates, it’s not unreasonable. Nice, spacious SFH in a good city location.

  • DC real estate is such a scam! 900K for an OK house in an OK neighborhood? What a joke! DC is NOT New York or Chicago folks, and these prices are just plain ridiculous.

    I thought the house bubble burst? Why are houses still this expensive, and who is buying these? Are they just going to be in massive debt, foreclose, and keep contributing to the housing problem? I don’t get it. Who has this kind of money? House prices pretty much everywhere else in the USA are reasonable. Move this same house to Charleston, SC and you’d have a beach house for 200k. What gives?

    • An OK neighborhood? I’d say Logan Circle is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in DC. And the house is quite large.

      Who has this kind of money? Plenty of people. I’m in my late 20’s and my husband and I make enough, combined, to afford something like this. We’re normal people with normal jobs and we’re from solidly middle-class families.

      Just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean it’s a scam or priced unreasonably. Houses in this area typically go for over a million. Real estate in desirable DC neighborhoods is not affected by the current state of the housing market simply because the demand’s always there and there aren’t many foreclosures/short sales in these areas.

      • If you make that kind of money, you’re NOT middle class. You would have to be making over 400k a year to afford a million dollar home. If you’re making that, you are well above “middle class” pal.

        • Isn’t a million dollar mtg something like $5000/month plus property taxes? (Not even taking into consideration the rental unit)

          Where do you get your $400K/year figure?

        • I said we’re from middle class families (parents have blue collar jobs)… in other words, we don’t have family money to spend on a house.

          400k a year, is that a typo?

        • Also, I don’t think we qualify as “well above middle class” for DC. Sure, our jobs pay well enough (we’re both in IT), but we don’t have ridiculously high salaries. We’re a bit better off than a couple working at non-profits and raising kids, but we’re definitely not in the doctor-and-lawyer range.

          • To A: We don’t make over $250,000/year. Not even close. We’ve made many sacrifices over the years (the biggest being not living in the city itself) so we can afford the downpayment on a house like this. After the downpayment we’d be down to about $700k, assuming we weren’t able to negotiate the price lower. Divide that by two people and you’d have $350k/person, the price of a typical 1-bedroom condo but without the condo fees. Subtract from that the income from the rental unit and you’ve got a mortgage payments that are lower than what many people spend on rent in the city.

          • Mouse knows what she’s talking about. Affordable, especially once you begin depreciating the apartment. If they get a good deal, their cost could be less than $1500 per person per month once tax considerations are realized at the end of the year.

            I recommend filling out a Schedule E with all your projected numbers before buying a place like this.

          • Even if you don’t make $250k you are WELL above middle class- Yes, even for DC. Maybe you FEEL middle-class because most of the people you know make as much or more than you, but that doesn’t make it so.

    • Move to Carleston and you’ll see “what gives.” there’s a reason people pay a premium to live in DC– jobs pay more here and better quality life. If you disagree, move.

    • If it is a scam, who is running the scam and what are the benefits? Are all sellers in the district scamming all buyers?

      You say “everywhere in the USA”. How about NYC, San Fran, San Diego, Orange County, Chicago, Seattle just to name a few.

      Is the ‘scam’ occuring there too?

    • Actually home prices are more expensive in DC than in Chicago. Perhaps you could have made the comparison to San Francisco in your overheated outburst of inanity. Similarly, the same house in NYC would go for $125,000 in Wasilla. Thats not really the point.

      When people say “this isnt worth…” if it sells for that amount, it is, by definition worth that amount. The obvious exception are outliers, but you can’t determine the outlier without doing a statistical analysis and a solid appraisal.

      Thank you for revealing you have very little understanding of financial markets or commerce.

    • If you want to take advantage of the housing bubble burst, take a look in the exurbs. That’s where the foreclosures are happening. Not in DC.

      • The foreclosure I bought and the dozens I looked at before I bought tend to indicate to me that you’re wrong. Plenty of foreclosures in DC.

        • I’ve been house-hunting diligently for over a year and have yet to come across one, but it could be because I’m looking on the Hill.

        • I did as well. But when I look on the old MLS nowadays, it looks like there’s a lot less foreclosures out there in DC. Less out there in general.

          Banks are holding back. Last thing they’ll do is dump their entire inventory on the market at once, driving sales prices into the ground and effectively putting some of their A list mortgagees underwater.

  • Looks like a hell of a deal to me! For those complaining about the price, it should be noted that the property has an in-law suite. In this location you should have no trouble renting it out.

    • yes, but the “in-law suite” doesn’t seem to have a kitchen, and I doubt it would qualify for a C of O as is, so you wouldn’t be able to count on rental income right off the bat and you wouldn’t be able to factor it in when applying for a mortgage (boarder income only gets counted if there’s a seperate unit, as I learned when I wanted to buy a place and get a roommate for the 2nd bedroom).

      With that said, it’s lovely, with nice old touches and big bedrooms, and in a great neighborhood. I’d want outdoor space for that price, but someone will buy it for close to asking.

      • Yeah, it’s probably another $20,000 to get close to opening up shop for a renter. However, that cost can be written off against the rental income you receive in the first year.

  • I refer back to the comment made by someone recently in a GDON post that said something along the lines of:

    Many people posting in the GDoN threads are either people who are not homeowners and/or don’t have the familiarity with the market to make an educated comment, or cannot afford the home and thus are bitter.

    Or maybe I am totally off base.

  • A lot of you people are typical snobby DC A-Holes. Way to live up to the stereotype.

    I’m sorry but of 900K, the house should have a yard, pool and butler! 900k is ridiculous for pretty much any house (unless you’re in Manhattan or Malibu).

    • “or cannot afford the home and thus are bitter.”

      • This. Although…900k is a lot of money for a lot of folks. I make an OK salary, and my gal makes about as much as me, and that house is a bit too high for us. If only it were in the 600’s 🙁

        Is it just me, or do the prices in DC (in general) seem a bit high? I know DC is a town full of money, but, like “anonymous” said, go to Charleston, and this house is like 200k (or probably less). I have a friend from Austin, TX (very cool city, with good quality of life) and prices there are very reasonable. Like 400k can get you a 4 bedroom / 4 bath house.

        Anyway, not complaining, I get DC is prime time, just wondering.

    • Ok, go find that 900k house with the yard, pool, and butler in DC and get back to us. Maybe Annacostia will have something that fits your needs.

      • Annacostia has sooooo much potential. Too bad its total ghetto 🙁 I’ve driven through that part of the city a few times…there are some nice homes with loads of potential, and I loved the hills. But…it’s still pretty dangerous, so no way will I ever move there (unless there are drastic changes over the next few years).

        • Agreed– I’ve driven through there as well and it’s actually very pretty!

          • I thought I read a few year ago that there was going to be a big initiative to promote businesses/ home ownership there?? Guess that fell through? With the Nats Stadium close by, and a Metro, hopefully the neighborhood will get turned around, but I’m not holding my breath.

            Funny screen name by the way 🙂

    • my stereotype of typical dc people is my friends. not snobs at all.

      well, a few of them. but they’re not a-holes.

  • Agree with mouse.
    For those who are planning in living in this area no time is good time but right now to buy real estate in this city. Due to height restriction we are unable to build up in Washington DC,and few undeveloped land. The city will continue to attract people from all over the country/World due to its strong job market and due to the increased likability over the years. When the economy gets better housing will only get more expensive.
    No I don’t sell homes for living.

    • I’d bet on the height restrictions eventually being relaxed outside the L’Enfant core. Probably first across the river or in far NE/NW, but it’s just a matter of time until it happens.

      • Now that would be a bubble bursting. Things would have to get pretty crowded for anyone to do that, because the consequent drop in real estate prices would cost DC a lot of money.

  • I’m in love with this house. Beautiful.

  • Wow! Nice house. 900k is a bit out of my range, but that sure is lovely.

    Anonymous…I’m from DC and do not think of myself as a snob; sounds like you’re just having a bad day???

    Happy Friday everyone!

  • Seems a bit high to me. Lack of central air seems weird, or at the very least if it has central air, it is inadequate for hte home judging by window units. Also, the front brick work has some cracking that would have me concerned, especially adjacent to an alley (properties next to alleys have the issue of heavy trucks, dirt compaction etc, playing games with the outside foundation).

    Very cheap appliances and outdated. Silestone, not granite in kitchen, floors look like mine…. old and squeaky. No parking or yard space.

    I don’t know the immediate areas market vis a vis Cap Hill, but that’s an 775k-800k house on a nice block on Cap Hill IMO… and that is w/ Central Air, a clean bill of health on the brick work and a small yard.

    • Central air is an issue, but I’ve seen so many places that have been ruined by sloppy duct placement that a few window units in the back of the house really arent a big issue for me.

      But seriously? You’re bitching about the appliances and lack of granite? Old squeaky floors are far superior to engineered wood from lumber liquidators that fills many other houses.

  • It’s so funny that anyone who questions the value of a $900,000 is branded ‘poor’ ‘bitter’ ‘jealous’ and as having ‘no understanding of markets or commerce’. Let me explain something about that last point. Just because someone pays $900,000 for a house does NOT make that house worth $900,000. Lots of people paid lots of money for houses that are now under water. Things change, right?

    For what it’s worth, I own a home in DC which I bought just about six months ago and I worry that there is a bit of a localized bubble developing in the area. When people are screaming insults at a person who questions whether someone should spend $900,000 on an older home with no back yard, I really start to worry.

    Housing is a highly leveraged, extremely undiversified bet heavily dependent on local labor market conditions. That’s how ‘markets’ and ‘commerce’ work. When the government gets spending under control (which WILL happen one day through one form or another), I fear DC’s housing market may have to suffer a bit.

    Countering that, DC is getting ‘nicer’ all the time. Undeniably true. But how much ‘nicer’ is THIS particular neighborhood going to get? Not much in my opinion (future expectations play a part here as well so you really won’t be making any money on improvements in location). So you are making more of the aforementioned labor market bet.

    I personally do not think it is a good time to sink $900,000 into a piece of DC real estate, especially in that neighborhood (not because it is a bad neighborhood), but I could be wrong. That’s how markets work — everybody is wrong sometimes.

    • Good post! I don’t really understand how 900k is a good deal either. I mean if it is to you, and you can afford it, then more power to you.

      Personally, if I was going to spend 900k, I’d want a yard at least. Me, I think there are better places to spend 900k than this particular location.

    • True, you generally don’t buy a house in a well-established neighborhood as an investment. You buy it so you can have a home to live in, in a neighborhood you feel comfortable in, and when it’s time to move you should be able to sell it for a little more than what you paid.

      A “smarter” purchase would be in a transitional neighborhood, where the value of the property will eventually increase and you can make a tidy profit off it when it’s time to sell. But not everyone is willing to do that.

      • I agree with most of what you said, but if it’s not an investment why do we call it “good deal or not”? A home is ALWAYS an investment, maybe not one that you plan on making tons of money on, but it is.

    • You just bought a house. It makes sense that you feel nervous, especially after the climatic economic events of the last two years.

      Yes, you could be very wrong. I’m not seeing what would grow a localized bubble. H Street had what could have been considered a bubble had streetcars been shut down.

      This is Logan, walking distance to downtown, where all the high paying jobs are located. Is the government going to go out of business at some point? How much more of a robust investment do you expect?

    • I don’t see where anyone was labeled ‘poor’ or ‘jealous’ anywhere in the thread.

    • Great. The price someone will pay for something is exactly what something is “worth”. Just because people began paying less for the same asset doesnt mean that at the previous point in time something wasnt worth what the market will bear. It should just emphasize to everyone that just because homes cost $x now, it wont necessary be worth $x+n later in time.

      Buying a home in order to make money is the wrong approach. You can have less risk and less overhead with other investments.

  • This former GDON sold for $810,000 after only a few days on the market:

    It’s two doors down. Only two floors (no basement), but it has central air, a backyard, and parking.

    I’d say $889,000 for a significantly larger place on the same block is pretty reasonable. It’s a big house in an extremely convenient location.

  • The L’Enfant core includes this area. The boundary is Florida which used to be called Boundary Ave. Height will not be relaxed in this historic district or any other historic district.

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