Good Deal or Not? “formal dining room with decorative plaster frieze” edition

This home is located at 1910 Vermont Ave, NW:

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The flier says:

“Urban chic living in a DC Historic Landmark! This 3 BR/2.5 BA detached is ideal for entertaining. Features high ceilings, ebony hardwoods, new front windows, living room with fireplace, media room with fireplace & formal dining room with decorative plaster frieze. Gourmet kitchen with granite, stainless & 5-burner Jenn-Air cooktop. New Boiler. Plus, patio and PARKING.”

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

This 3 bed/2.5 bath is going for $979,000. Sound realistic?

46 Comment

  • hey virtual tours, stop resizing Wong Tong’s browser! you’re on notice!

    • drives me nuts, too.

      about the house: decorative frieze NOT a selling point. I suppose it could be an ice breaker conversation piece if I ever planned to invite the Duke of Windsor over for pizza.

      • And me too (on the browser resizing). I just avoid it with a right click and ‘open in new window’

  • Realistic if the house can also travel to the land of OZ.

  • Overpriced. I live really close to there and would love to see this get 980, but no chance.

  • The remodel looks very professional and custom. Maybe they overspent for the neighborhood?

  • Nice place. Huge @ 2200 sq-ft. Parking is a must at that location.

    I’m might be in the minority but I think the price is about right. So, it’ll probably sell in the low-mid 900s, maybe around 925-945.

    Personally, I’d never buy this place. I mean it’s only a few blocks away from two large public housing projects. And we know those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Someone less risk adverse than me will probably make a killing after living there for 5-7 years though.

    • I’m not much more could they sell this for in 5-7 years? 1.1 million? I’d be shocked. I would think this area is for rich first time homebuyers who are still young and want to go out on U street..I think that this is a very small mkt window. Better area with a top house than Columbia Heights, but just under top house for Dupont. I think after 1.1 million – young people would rather buy a house in Dupont. Older couples on the Hill or foxhall…so I don’t see that this mkt has anywhere to go…imo.

      • You don’t make any money if you sell in 5 years. Once you factor in all considerations (closing, commission, tax benefits, appreciation, etc), you find that the average homeowner breaks even at the 4 year mark vs. their cost had they rented throughout the same period. So you sell in 5 years, you’re netting a couple grand. However, you laid out maybe $100k (for this place) in transactional costs. Very low return, high risk. Stick to T notes and rent.

        I think the model buyer is a gay couple. That demographic alone could move this house. It’s not Dupont — in some ways, it’s better.

    • Most neighborhoods in the city, east of the park, are only a few blocks away from large public housing.

      • Agreed – public housing is rampant in many of the fast developing parts of the city. While it does cause some issues, it doesn’t seem to slow the demand for real estate in hot areas, like this one. I bought further west down U St a bit ago, but now wish I had looked more towards this end. I think Vermont Ave just South of the memorial is gorgeous and there are so many new things popping up all over the place here.

        I bet this place goes for over 900k when all is said and done, but it will also sit on the market for a while because buyers with that kind of cash aren’t flocking to this area in droves. Yet.

  • @Annony – I agree.
    The lot isn’t the best – for that money I’d rather not be so exposed and on a more residential street.
    Also I think my studio apartment has more counterspae than that kitchen. Overall though – this house is awesome!
    Move it one block west, give me the winning lotto numbers and I’d buy.

    • I have to 2nd the lot isn’t the best, especially when a big ole condo building is built immediately to the left of this building.

      • The condo building being built is going to mimic the style of the gorgeous rowhomes on this street – I think in this case it would be a bonus to be next to the development.

  • Wow – thats expensive. But considering what some houses have been going under contract for in Bloomingdale and Eckington, which are much further from U Street and the metro than this place, I wonder if this isnt appropriately priced.

  • was passing by a couple weekends ago and decided to drop in on the open house, and they had a sign up that said ‘please take off your shoes.’ take off my shoes at an open house? eff that! otherwise, i totally was going to buy it.

  • bfinpetworth

    The answer is in the comps listed on that redfin listing. Not.

  • Beautiful, but not 1 million beautiful.

  • I still am shocked by the people who come on this blog and think things are “priced too high”. Come on, those condos going in right next door are going to start at 700K—I assume for a decent sized one bedroom.

    @Whoa_Now: Your argument would be correct if the population in Washington DC stays stagnant…forever. There are people who have a million dollar budget and would like to live on the same block as a metro stop. There is nothing newly renovated in Dupont/Georgetown/Foggy Bottom this size for less than a million dollars. As pointed out there are homes in LeDroit/Bloomingdale just east of here selling for 800K

    If you didn’t live in this city pre-2000, you have no idea how far development and growth has come and continues to go east since the Clinton Era. Dupont was a dump in the 90’s 10 years later it’s all newcomers can talk about.

    If I weren’t in college at that time I would have purchased a row home in the “sketchy” block of 17th & P St. and tripled my investment by now.

    • First, that link is for ~2100 sq/ft 2-3 bedroom townhouses with roof decks and the full 9 yards. Not one bedroom condos.

      And I would rather buy a solidly built new townhouse by a reputable developer, with all new “guts” and swanky finishes for ~700K, rather than something 40% more expensive thats landmarked with older plumbing, structural, electrical, roofing issues.

    • I get your argument and sort of agree, however I think it has more to do with salaries, than population. (with pop/salaries should go up..but how many are making 1 million?) I think 1 million is really pushing it for first time home buyers and really a small percentages of homes. This to me is a first time home(or 2nd for old, but young at heart couple without children)-not because of size,style,etc but location..and I’ve been in the city since I’ve seen my share of change, in fact I lived on 11th and U then. The reason this is a good place to live also is a hinderance. I think once you hit 1.2 million -people with higher salaries have moved into their mid 30’s with kids and won’t want to live next to a huge nightlife scene. If this house does sell for 970K, I don’t see much room for it to increase for a “killing” in 5-7 years. I could be wrong,and the renovations look really good-and the condo project may do wonders…but I just don’t see it. I’m not saying its overpriced, I just think you shouldn’t expect a major “killing” when you sell in 5-7 years for your second home.

      Best house on the block – definitely. Unfortunately that always brings your value down.

    • Joker: I hear ya, that’s why I purchased a condo, but that isn’t the case for all. Row houses sell all over DC for the same prices as new construction condos/duplexes.

      Whoa_Now: Again, I say this in all sincerity, if you weren’t here in the 90’s you truly can’t appreciate how much progress has happened in this city. Yes, in the 00’s much has changed in Shaw and it is going to continue to change…and probably look like today’s Dupont in 10 years—IMO.

      I also think that this is not necessarily a first time home. You are assuming that every married/partnered couple wants kids; that those who do want kids want to have a “traditional” home with a garage, yard and swing set out back. I know the district isn’t Manhattan, but there are many people who grew up in homes 1/3 this size up NYC that cost double this amount. With gas $4+ a mile commute or walk to the metro saves you more than you realize.

      Pricing: A million dollars is a lot, but if you are a dual income making 250k and a decent down payment, this is totally feasible (that’s really 125k a year and I am a non-lawyer making that much at 30something). If you can dissociate the fact that it is only a 3 bedroom home and people who spend this much money would rather purchase a McMansion in McLean or Potomac, then you will see that there are salary qualifiers who would live in this area.

      It’s a block from Nellies…some cute gay couple may snatch it up with a slightly lower negotiated closing price.

      • PS–I do agree that there won’t be much of a “killing” in any realestate buys, maybe decent/small gains, in the next 10 years…not like in the previous 20.

        • That was my whole point. No, you won’t make a killing on this in 5 to 7 years. Unless you plan on being in this house for the next 10-20 years..don’t expect a killing.
          When I lived at 11th and U in 2001, it was more than a transitional area, no sane person would walk east of 17th-so I know personally the change that has occured on U Street. I doubt U and 11th was any different 3 or 4 years earlier, maybe slightly but I doubt anyone on this blog hung out there in the mid 90s’ or early 00′ It was dangerous. The change that has taken place in 10 years is huge. But my point and I stand by it- is that in another 10 years the area doesn’t have the same room to improve-and therefore housing prices won’t dramatically increase at the top of the mkt. redo-sure. but houses selling for 1 million won’t increase that much. Could you make a profit in 5-7 years. Sure. Will it be a killing, no.

          • I think there is still room for huge improvement in that area. If you think Shaw–which is where U Street is–has reached a plateau on its community development, you are incorrect. Eventually, all of NW and much of DC will look like modern day Dupont is my guess.

  • As usual, the listing agent is missing out on a major asset to this property: its an individual landmark in the U Street historic district because for many decades, it was home to Lillian Evans Tibbs (born 1890), aka “Madame Evanti” one of the first black opera signers allowed to travel throughout Europe.

    As a result, she held concerts here in the house and entertained the greatest black entertainers for decades when U Street was at its height in the 1920s and 1930s. Her grandson, Thurlow Tibbs continued to live here until the 1990s, and amassed a $4 Million collection of influential black artists work that was donated to the Smithsonian upon his death.

    The agent could and should really market this to Howard Univ (her alma mater) or other historic black cultural institution instead of the just wayward home buyer.

  • a million bucks for this?

    Not a chance. Yeah yeah…”someone spent 950K on it in 2007 so its gotta be worth it” excuse. No, we aren’t in the largest forclosure boom in the US for nothing. Tens of millions of people massively overpaid for everything for years, it doesn’t make that tiny little house wedged between public housing wastelands worth a million bucks.

    Someone who has got a mil to spend on a house where number of bedrooms matter will buy in CP, Dupont, AU etc.

    Point number 2 is if it is a landmark, I would think it would be worth less. Landmarked properties are a pain to own and maintain or change. Want to wash your front windows? Get HRB permission as it might reduce the charming historical “patina” of grime. Want to hand a new address sign? Spend 6 months getting it approved.

    No…you couldn’t pay me to buy a landmarked home.
    I will admit that the renovation that was done ~4 years is very nice, but not a chance.

    • woah now – this house is not “wedged between public housing wastelands.” While it isn’t too too far from the concentration of projects in Shaw, neither are many of the sought after properties in Logan Circle and it doesn’t seem to have affected their value that much. There is public housing in the vicinity, but that is the case with many desirable areas in DC. The way you state it is a gross exaggeration.

      I think that if someone gets this for the right price, it will be an fantastic investment. I would say the right price is probably right around 900k

      • Never said it was. Wrong poster. howerver IMO I disagree with it being a “fantastic investment” 900K now-probably clear 1-1.1 million in 7 years..but thats not a fantastic investment-that may even be a loss. You have to take in tax, realty fees, recordation, etc. in the end they would probably make about 15-30k. Good, but not fantastic.

    • Actually, all economic studies have shown that historic districts or a NR listing increase property values. Why? Because your protected from your neighbor doing horrible things to their house that would affect your value (pop-ups blocking your daylight for example).

      DC has some of the more lax reviews for historic properties, actually, with even paint colors not being reviewed. You’re incorrect about the window washing, address numbers, etc: if it doesn’t require a building permit, then its not reviewed, period.

      What happens after several years or decades is a cohesive community aesthetic and protection of historic properties that becomes a very desirable place to live: Woodley and Cleveland Parks, Capitol Hill, etc.

  • I’m thinking it’s 100K high.

  • This house is on the National Register of Historic Places and yeah, going through the historic preservation committee is a pain but if you care about such things it’s so worth it. The windows were replaced in 1999 and they still look pretty good. It should go for price or slightly under. A good deal for rich people with no kids.

  • For this price in this area I’d want a basement apartment to rent out.

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