Good Deal or Not? “richly endowed home” edition (reader request)

This home is located at 103 8th St, NE:

View Larger Map

The flier says:

“This dazzling jewel speaks to the character/charm of this 1890’s Stately 3 story Victorian. From the cupola to the English bsmt. this richly endowed home gleams from western light & is blessed w delightful location, equal distance to Stanton & Lincoln Parks & short strolls to Eastern Mkt. or Union Station metros. Excellent spaces to entertain!”

You can find more info here and photos here.

The reader writes:

“Okay – What I am missing in this listing? Why is this place so cheap? There are some realtor notes that the say only kitchen is in the English basement, no yard, and no parking. But, truly, for that price I will add another kitchen and get over the lack of parking and yard.”

What do you guys think – is $489,500 for this 3 bed/2.5 bath the “best deal ever”? What do you think it’ll actually go for?

61 Comment

  • seems like an awesome deal

  • The kitchen in the basement thing is really weird, but it does seem like a good deal.

    I would expect it is priced to accept multiple offers above asking, a seldom used and sometimes risky marketing approach.

    The laundry in the bathroom and handrail-less stairs are two other minor items to consider.

    • SouthwestDC

      The kitchen in the basement is fairly common for homes on the Hill and in other historic neighborhoods. I was opposed to the idea at first, but ended up buying a house with a basement kitchen and I absolutely love it. Of course, that arrangement won’t appeal to some people, such as the elderly or those with small children, which may help to explain the price here. We suspect that’s one of the reasons ours was lsited as low as it was.

      • I wouldn’t say it is common. We looked at at least a dozen homes on the hill when we bought (and countless more online) and never saw it.

        • SouthwestDC

          I saw at least 100 houses on the Hill… a dozen’s not that much. 🙂 Also, the online listings tend to be evasive about the fact that it’s in the basement.

          It’s true that a lot of those kitchens have migrated up to the main level, but I’d say maybe 20% have it on the lower. Having the kitchen downstairs does have its benefits.

          • Show me one on the market now with only a below grade kitchen (besides this one of course).

            And what are the benefits to a main floor kitchen?

          • “compared to”

          • I looked at a couple dozen homes on the Hill 3 years ago and saw multiple with kitchens in the lowest (basement) level. Often they were the ones that hadn’t been renovated yet. I assume they get moved upstairs during renovations usually.

          • SouthwestDC

            One of the biggest benefits to having a kitchen on the lower level is that you have more space on the upper levels for other things. Typically you’ll also have a bigger kitchen because they didn’t try to squeeze it on the main level with everything else.

            The English basement kitchen is easier for bringing in groceries because you can go straight through the lower entrance instead of having to climb a lot of stairs to get to the main level.

            It’s also useful for grilling and outdoor entertaining if the lower level opens onto the backyard like mine/most do.

            It’s certainly unconventional if you’re used to new construction homes, and I’m not claiming it doesn’t have its downsides, but you’d be surprised at how convenient it can be.

          • I can totally see a basement kitchen being convenient if it were an above ground/at grade basement as you describe yours as.

            My kitchen is on the level with my grill/where I bring the groceries in, etc. My basement is down a set of stairs. I don’t want to be going up and down those stairs with groceries or to tend to the grill.

            Just curious, if it is at ground level, why do you call it a basement? Isn’t it just the ground floor?

            I don’t buy the ‘more space for other things’ argument though. Space is space.

          • “Just curious, if it is at ground level, why do you call it a basement? Isn’t it just the ground floor?”

            I’ve always wondered this about English basements. I guess a small part of it is subterranean (i.e. you usually have to walk down 2-3 stairs to enter).

          • Caroline, you’ve made some great points. I never really thought about the benefits (other than the extra space thing) before.

            And, I’m in agreement with you about what constitutes an English Basement. The vast majority of homes with English Basements on the Hill (that I’ve seen) are set up in such a way that it’s about 3 steps down to the basement and what, 8 steps up to the house? And, my experiences also jives with yours in that the English basements I’ve seen generally open up to the back at ground level.

          • the term English Basement refers to a ground level unit in a multi level building that is rented out (or can be rented out) as a separate unit. It has nothing to do with how far below ground it is people.

    • I once looked at a house in Philadelphia that had the kitchen in the basement too. I think it was more common with these really old homes.

      • It is — kept the heat from cooking out of the main living level in those pre-AC days.

        • SouthwestDC

          From my understanding the cooking was done in a makeshift kitchen outside during the summmer. I’m guessing it was useful to be cooking in the lower level during the winter since heat rises.

  • This doesn’t compute. I mean, unless it’s haunted or there is something structurally wrong with it, that’s an amazing deal. Will go for well into the 500’s.

    • It’s tiny (1,000 sq ft – so at $466 per sq ft the price makes more sense). Completely blocked in by buildings on three sides (see: windows facing brick walls), no storage, no parking, no yard. Basically a condo in row house clothing. Families (even in the city) need parking, storage and space. Still it’s really lovely and priced at a point that it will easily attract a single person or couple who otherwise would take a condo. I like the fact that it’s a manageable walk to Union Station or Eastern Market.

      • disagree with the Parking concern. I would say most on the Hill don’t have access to their own parking. Street parking if fine for most Hill homes. Closer to EM or Barracks might cause some problems, but I never have a problem with parking.

        • I meant to comment on that. I’m always able to find parking on my block, which is at 8th and Independence, even on the weekends when lots of out-of-staters drive in to go to the market. So I really can’t see it being an issue here. A lot of my neighbors do have garages or alley spaces, though.

          • Fair enough – but it will always factor in pricing. And I still think that parking makes a difference in the range of buyers that will look at a house. Couple with no kids – fine. Couple with kids – probably doesn’t want to worry about street parking when they have groceries, stroller, etc. These are issues now that a lot of different people are looking in the city.

  • for capitol hill, 500K is extremely cheap–something is being left out…

  • Is a richly endowed home anything similar to a well hung curtain?

  • at first I thought this was an amazing deal, but everything about the house is awkward. the kitchen/dining in the basement… I don’t know about you all, but I spend 75% of my time in the kitchen and adjoining room and I don’t want it in the basement. the master bedroom is awfully small, and the third bedroom has the laundry in an en suite bathroom. which means if it is used as a bedroom, then it’s horribly inconvenient.

  • We were wondering what was wrong with it ourselves…

  • I looked at this house when it was for sale roughly four years ago. It is a very small house spread over three levels. (English basement to me means a separate apt, but there is none.) It is very small and there is truly no back yard — just a bricked in landing on all side that could fit about 2 people.

  • Let’s hope whoever tries to buy this house doesn’t go FHA. They won’t finance a mortgage if the only kitchen on the property is in the basement. Learned that the hard way.

    • What’s the reasoning behind that? If the only kitchen is in the basement it pretty much kills any potential to rent it out, but why else would it be a concern?

      • Dunno. My guess is that the kitchen has to be centrally located and easily accesible from the rest of the house.

      • saf

        They told us that they consider it as not having a kitchen, as they don’t count below grade space as liveable.

    • saf

      Yeah, that’s why we live in Petworth and not in Shaw.

      I think we came out on the better end of the deal.

    • We were told FHA would not cover a house without a refrigerator so we walked in and out of several.

      Turns out the was a misguided realtor telling us that.

      We bought a house without a frig and stove with FHA blessing.

  • SouthwestDC

    “Offers due 3/30/2011 noon” makes me think they’ve underpriced it with the intent of starting a bidding war. I know there are at least a couple Coldwell agents on the Hill for whom this is their modus operandi.

  • I’m a little skeptical of this strategy. Sure it moves a house quick, but I’ve seen it cost sellers lots and lots of money — way more than the holding cost over a month or two.

    • Not that they need to care, but it costs potential buyers and their agents a lot of time too. Most people who are in the market for a $500k property would not spend 3 hours writing an offer for something that is going to end up selling for $700k.

      • Sold for $599,000 at the height of the housing bubble (2006). I don’t think it will go for more than that.

        • Demand and prices on the Hill have gone up a lot since then. I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes for more.

          • In the last 6 months, sold homes around this section of the Hill have averaged about $532 per sq ft. That would put this house around $575k – which would make sense after a bit of a bidding war.

  • It is TINY. My 2 BR, 2BA condo in Old Town Alexandria was 990 sq ft (we sold it last year for $300K), and 990 was ok for two people laid out the way it was. This is just awkward.

  • Gee, that’s bad. Just goes to show why the commonwealth aint that great of an investment. The condo market in a not-so-metro accessible part of Alexandria may have been slow in Jan 2010, but it was heating up in DC and is still pretty hot right now. $500K is an excellent deal in Capitol Hill.

  • This listing agent is notorious for listing houses on the Hill for well below their value — and they typically get several offers and go well above asking. Just his strategy.

    • Wow. Is it just me or is that just an a**hole strategy? I mean, on the surface there’s nothing wrong with it, but I sure as hell hope it doesn’t become common. It is hard enough to buy a home in DC right now without this kind of crap, which is really little more than a bait and switch.

      • just you. it’s pretty common. not just in real estate, but with all one of a kind object markets.

  • This place will 1000% definitely be bidding well over asking. I am thinking it will be closer to $600k when the bloodbath is done.

  • It is marketed to escalate over asking. I think it will go for $600K +/-. There’s been a ton of traffic through it.

  • Oh, this house! There was a flurry of activity when this first came on the market 2 weeks ago, so I’m surprised it’s still listed. At the time they said something about “Offers due March 24th” or some such date. I’m wondering whether they got offers but there wasn’t the bidding war they expected so they declined the offers [that’s purely my speculation, I don’t know that for a fact].
    If it is genuinely for sale at that price then it’s a good deal (even with the strange configuration), but I agree with others when they say that if the listing agent is trying to start a bidding war he/she is playing with fire (and the seller’s money).

  • I’ve been in this house. Yes, the kitchen is in the basement, and the oven has to date from 1963 or so. As well, the two bedrooms upstairs, while good size, share an adjoining closet, which will not appeal to a lot of folks. The third “bedroom” on the main floor is at best a 6×6 space that you have to go through to access the bathroom on that floor. I went in prepared to love it–even substantially over asking price–and decided the space just would not be workable.

  • This house is now relisted at $629,500. Their lowball strategy must have backfired.

  • It’s under contract as of this morning.

Comments are closed.