Dear PoPville – If you had $100,000 to put down on a home where would you buy for best investment 5-10 years from now?

Photo by PoPville flickr user trentroche

“Dear PoPville,

If you had $100,000 to put down on a home, hoping to benefit from future development in the neighborhood, say, 5 to 10 years down the road, where would you look today? Anywhere in town.

I’m still learning about my northern Petworth neighborhood. I think it’s a great urban community, personally, but have no clue whether it will appreciate down the road. I’m into enjoying it as is, warts and all. It certainly looks better than I’ve ever seen it during the month of May. Lots and lots of roses.

I appreciate the smarts of the readers you continue to attract and think there is a lot of community wisdom among them that could be of help to my friend. She, like me, is independent-minded and in her 50s.”

167 Comment

  • New York.

  • Minneapolis

  • A safe bet would be downtown Silver Spring. A more interesting bet would be south out that, close to whatever Walter Reed becomes.

    • Walter Reed Area FTW

    • Agreed, as far as non-DC, inside-the-Beltway zip codes go. Silver Spring is the right price point and there’s still room to get in — lots of development happening around the downtown, established neighborhoods — both commercial and residential. Plus, the schools are pretty good. Or Takoma Park.

      Outside of DC, I always look at the Beltway like the face of a clock (12 is 16th Street). From 6 (Old Town) to 12 (Chevy Chase), there is little room left to appreciate, and 100k down won’t get you much there, anyway, to the extent that implies you’re looking at 500k properties. The rich people with their attendant irrational tendencies to bid up prices have already invaded. From 2 to 6, well … I’m unwilling to place bets on PGC. That leaves the eastern-most sliver of MoCo. I disagree that inside the District line is better, though — you still have DCPS, DC Council, MPD, etc. that always will bring down your value. Though I do like Shepherd Park. Not a slam against those areas, just my sense if you’re really talking about speculating on real estate values.

      • Stupid irrational tendencies to bid up places based on factors such as good public schools and non-existent crime rates and people who dispose of their dog poo in their own trash cans……

        I’d want to buy a place within walking distance of the Metro in a “currently undesirable area.”

        • Hey … if I could afford it, I’d live there, too. I guess my point is that, to the Potomoc-Bethesda-Chevy Chase crowd, Silver Spring IS a “currently undesirable area,” despite the fact that it benefits from most of the factors you name. The irrationality that I see, I guess, is that people pay a 250k premium to be in the BCC or Whitman school district when other MoCo high schools are still pretty darn good, relative to the rest of the area (and nation, for that matter).

          • Completely agree. Silver Spring is the best deal for the combination of affordable housing, public schools, and access to DC.

          • Also agree that downtown Silver Spring has a ton going for it. The difference between 10 years ago and today is amazing, but I think the next 10 years will be even more extraordinary.

          • Last time I checked Blair was still a pretty awful high school.

          • You’re joking about Blair being an “awful” high school, right? You’re talking about one of the best high schools in the nation, much less the DC region. Just needed to make clear that you’re joking to anyone who doesn’t actually know the area.

  • The only honest answer is: I have no idea.

    I would answer the same thing if you asked what stock to buy that I know would appreciate over the next 5-10 years.

    Anyone who tells you that they do know is lying or naive.

    However, I’m sure there will be plenty of people willing to share their opinion.

    • A place you enjoy living.

      In the early 2000s I bought a place in DC for several years, in and out for a good profit, but never really enjoyed living in that particular neighborhood (too far from metro, slightly sketchy, little besides residential). Rented after that, not making any profits, but had a wonderful quality of life in a perfect neighborhood.

      So, unless you’re specifically wanting to sacrifice to make money (and now, unlike the strong momentum of the early 2000s, who knows how much more appreciation there will be), put your 100K in a place you would like to commit to for a long time and will enjoy living in.

    • Also, as my opinion goes, I think the closest you can get to the downtown core, the most attractive housing stock, close to existing of future mass transit, close to existing and future development, are the best bets.

      I have no idea what the housing market will do, but in terms of future appreciation, I think I like Shaw, Trinidad, Eckington, and Hill East more than areas further out like Fort Totten, Brookland, Park View, Pleasant Plains, Petworth.

      The simple reason is is that I think over the next 10 years people will want to live as close to work as they can. I think development will follow this behavior and with many of these neighborhoods, one can even walk to many jobs, if the walk was just safer. I think proximity will dominate.

      The reasons I dont like Columbia Heights, Bloomingdale, Ledroit, Capitol Hill, Dupont, etc is because I think many of these areas could be plateauing in appreciation and/or you wont get as much for your money there. Perhaps, they’ll just perpetually go up, but I just dont know and I think the possibilities for benefits are greater in the first set of ‘hoods I mentioned.

      Logan Circle, I think, will appreciate until its on par in price with Dupont.

      But like i said before, I dont have a clue. I have a good guess, but there’s no way anyone can tell you the answer you’d be most happy with, and that is what is a “sure thing”.

      That said, I dont think any neighborhood in DC within 3/4s of a mile from a metro and/or a mile or 2 from downtown, will be a bad bet over the next 10 years.

      • Park View and Pleasant Plains are just as close to downtown (if not closer to the Golden Triangle) as Hill East and Trinidad.

        • I like Trinidad and Hill East because of their proximity to capitol hill and lefant/federal center.

          Park View and Pleasant Plains are further from such a sizeable jobs center.

          Throw SW Waterfront into the good buy category, though a lot of their stock is 70s chic and not very desirable.

          • Trinidad, SW, and Hill East are also very accessible to Northern Virginia, where a lot of the jobs are. One of the reasons we chose the Hill was the Virginia proximity. We would have considered SW if the houses weren’t so ugly and the crime still a bit high… but I’m sure it would pay to buy in that area if you’re patient enough.

          • Like Trinidad, Ivy City has a lot of new construction going on


          • I agree with everything you say, Anon. Pretty much the last great affordable neighborhoods proximate to downtown -and- NW’s flagship neighborhoods (Dupont, Logan, U) are Shaw, Eckington, Truxton. Trinidad is my bet for most appreciation over a 15 year period. It’s so undervalued now.

            Shaw’s a no-brainer: walk to downtown, quick drive to 395, a couple metro options. Plus it’s “Logan East” — the logical heir to the latest hot neighborhood of today. I remember reading anti-gentry/gay graffiti in Ben’s bathroom about 10 years ago: “Stay out — this ain’t Dupont East.” Goes to show how quickly it all changes.

        • +10 on Park View and Pleasant Plains. Huge room for appreciation there.

          I don’t see how you can lump Bloomindgale and Columbia Heights in with Dupont Circle. Bloomingdale and CH have a lot further to go and have not plateaued. Same with areas like U Street and Shaw and a lot of Logan Circle (I think P St area is already in Dupont range). But even Dupont prices will likely rise a lot, albeit not as dramatically, as the city becomes and even more desirable place to live, which is continues to be more and more each year. We bemoan the problems it has because, frankly, this blog is full of readers who seem to genuinely care and want to live in a better city. I think the influx of similar minded people is making it a much better place to live.

          • I live in Bloomingdale. I just think that with houses now selling at 600-800k, there will need to be something more to justify housing prices going any higher.

            CH will need to get crime down to realize full price potential – and it would need to move down hill by about 10 blocks… thats why I like Shaw in the future.

            I just dont see it with park view or pleasant plains. Maybe some of the areas closest to the metro and places that can be developed, but the housing stock is mostly bland and the physical location is not great. I think it will go up, but I dont know if its in the top 30%

      • +1
        This is the philosophy that led me to buy in CH in 2006…and despite the horrendous national/regional market, my property value has kept pace with inflation because of all the neighborhood benefits that have continued to come online.

        So…I completely agree with: “any [property] in DC within 3/4s of a mile from a metro and/or a mile or 2 from downtown, [won’t] be a bad bet over the next 10 years”

      • except hasn’t logan already exceeded dupont prices?

  • Dear PoPville –

    I am a moron who cannot make decisions. Please tell me how to lead my life.

    • You probably are.

      On the other hand, some folks would simply like to hear advice and opinions from others in the community.

    • Would you not consult a financial planner if you were going to invest $100,000 stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.? Why not ask for advice with real estate investment? I think it a legitimate question to pose to someone who makes a living watching real estate trends. Your snarkiness is out of line.

      • Would you ask random strangers on a blog for advice on bond ladders?

        No, unless you are an idiot.

        Dear PoPville: I have a splinter, and I don’t know whether I should remove it. Send advice please before it gets infected, and I lose my foot!

        • it’s just a question, and count me as one who enjoys reading the responses.

          please calm down.

        • I seriously doubt the person asking the question is going to put his/her $100,000 nest egg down on the sole factor of suggestions made on a blog. I personally think it’s a fun starting point to brain storm about possibilities, maybe get information on neighborhoods with which one is not familiar from people with on the ground experience of living there. It is not the mark of a stunted intellect to explore multiple avenues of information.

          How does this question harm you in any way to draw such a vitriolic reaction from you?

          • Thank you for your thoughtful and considerate response. I will take your suggestions into account, and hopefully it will make me a better person.

            When I look back on my life, I am sure I will be glad that you gave me this advice; you are a truly generous person.

          • He’s got a small wiener, that’s all I can figure.

          • They should not have revised the TMI formula

        • I mean, you do call yourself Jesus, you should be used to this whole question-asking thing.

        • actually, your body will get rid of most splinters on its own, and often the process of trying to remove it can cause more harm than the splinter itself. just sayin…

        • What a worthless comment. You’re a troll at best, a moron at worst.

          The people on this blog are orders of magnitude better at speculation than the average real estate ‘expert’ in this area, who will just try to convince you to buy more house than you can afford to up their benefit from the sale.

          Same for financial transactions. Sure, there are a lot of good professionals, but it never hurts to double check with people who don’t have direct financial interest in your decision (aside from convincing you to join whatever gentrification wave in the particular neighborhood where they live).

    • “I appreciate the smarts of the readers you continue to attract…”

      Well, there’s your first mistake.

    • JC we all know why you are in such a sh$t mood, you ef up royally last saturday and are trolling for friends. good luck.

      • Boys, get your rulers and take it out to the alley. We’re trying to have a conversation here on a rhetorical question.

  • Capitol Hill. Safe bet.

    • no risk = no reward.

      I like the walter reed area. I think that it’s going to be a construction mess for the next decade, however.

    • Cap Hill=already topped out=limited potential growth=not answering the question

      • I disagree, though I do think there are better places to buy from a pure investment perspective.

  • Eckington, Bloomingdale or Eastern Shaw.

    With NOMA pushign from the east & regular DC gentrification moving from the west it should speed things up more than normal.

    • 1. Perhaps even further east into Eckington; as the development by the Rhode Island Avenue progresses it should pick up. Historically, most DC neighborhoods near new Metro development have seen property prices increase. (As happened dramatically with Columbia Heights. I am sure many members of PoPville remember before there was a CH metro, as I do.)

      2. Has it occurred to the snide commenters that perhaps this person was just wondering what people thought about future changes in the city, rather than literally seeking investment advice? Could just be a conversation starter.

      • eckington will be far more affected by the goings-on in noma than near the rhode island avenue station, unless the old safeway shopping center, and the Calvary baptist church get demolished. neither will happen in the next 10 years.

        • I think its possible that the south side of RIA develops and leaves behind the north side. There are very few properties between 4th St and the metro tracks. I could see them selling out rather quickly.

          • hmmmm. i’m skeptical of the 5-10 year turnaround on that. i don’t foresee the industrial zoning being changed, and that will keep property values down.
            i read of a pedestrian bridge connecting eckington over the tracks to the metro station, but that sounds like a bad plan to me.
            am i thinking incorrectly about that area? i’d certainly like to see it improve.

          • There is a building at the corner of 4th and Rhode Island that is coming to market soon. The MBT is a hidden gem that connects the area to the south. The pedestrian bridge is supposed to connect the station to edgewood, I believe.

            From memory, I believe there is a firestation, a ghetto strip mall, and autozone, a community center, and then 4th street. I dont know about zoning, but I think the councilmember and community would support a change, so there’s no reason to think the government wouldnt comply. With the development of the transit oriented mixed use complex right at the station, I think the development in Eckington will push east and the station development will push west… there really jsut isnt that much in between. I think in 5 years this section of road will be completely different.

            Also, Thomas has identified this area as a high priority for redevelopment, so I think he’s going to work on pushing things ahead.

          • anon,
            there is currently a bridge that connects edgewood to the station. there is a plan to connect eckington with the station via a bridge, but i don’t think it will mend the separation that are caused by the train tracks. the industrial section i was referring to is south of rhode island/ east of 4th.

            the new condo building will be nice, but eckington heights didn’t do that much for the area and attracted zero retail.

            i agree, the trail is nice.
            the church is too successful and wealthy to go away. there is no money to build a firehouse. autozone? maybe. the strip mail could definitely go. i think the old safe way shopping center has more potential and a better possibility
            the more i think about it the longer i think it will take to turn around. 15 years is my guess. i think 5 is way too optimistic.
            i don’t see harry thomas as an asset to the revitalization of this area. what has he done that’s positive?

          • No, I mean the fire station is already there. Its not going anywhere, but the autozone, strip mall, etc could easily.

            The new building isnt going to do a whole lot, except increase density. That end of eckington still has a ways to go, but the west and south sides of eckington have turned a corner.

            I just dont think it will be long until the current retail is replaced by something useful.

  • wow. a dozen posts and only 2 real answers. life has too many trolls. a lot of the places where you might see 100K turn into something in 10 years are places not worth living for 10 years just to see some $$. live in the neighborhood you can afford that you enjoy. capitol hill and downtown silver spring (the two answers so far) both fit that description, in my eyes. how bout yours?

  • Southwest Waterfront. In addition to being relatively affordable, it is right next to the largest job center in the area, has easy access to four metro lines and has $2 billion in new development on tap within the next ten years… My second would be NY Ave east of Mt. Vernon

    • Good choices

      If I was looking at condos, I’d totally agree on SW Waterfront. The area has a lot of attractive new development (stadium notwithstanding). The only downside is that new development tends to be priced high and may not offer as much room for appreciation.

      The area east of N Cap (Bloomingdale?) has a lot going for it as well. Could totally see that area continuing to become more attractive.

    • My recommendation with the SW Waterfront is to be careful what block you end up on. Some of the blocks are fine, while others are violently resistent to gentrification. Back in 2008 I’d considered buying in SW but decided to rent first and get a feel for it. I was the only white person on the block, and while most of the neighbors were very welcoming a few of them took it upon themselves to drive me out with a series of repeated threats and burglaries. It didn’t take them long– I was gone in less than a year. Maybe I’m soft, but imagine a guy standing in front of your house with a gun every time you come home. Imagine people breaking in and ransacking your place even though you have an alarm system and thick security bars. It’s unnerving.

      It was around this time that I read a wonderful book, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu. It takes place in Logan Circle in the 90’s, where a single white woman buys a house to fix up and is eventually forced out by the current residents. Though fiction, it bore a striking resemblance to where the SW Waterfront is at now.

    • I’ll second that NY Ave notion. If I could buy (again) today, I’d first look on NY Ave itself or N Street. I’d buy as close as possible to Big Ben’s liquor on N Cap, because I don’t think there are many other buyers looking there, and I could prob get a great deal. I’d be a 4 – 5 minute walk to metro and NoMa’s amenities. Plus, if Big Ben ever closes, that alone is worth $50k — maybe $100k — to future buyers.

  • I’d get a rowhouse in Near Northeast. As Noma continues to grow and the H Street streetcar comes online, it’ll be a good spot to be in.

  • Moved from Allison Street NW to Historic Anacostia in November — house has appreciated more than $80,000 already. My mortgage is only $905 for a single family detached with about 1800 sqft and we have a 6000 sqft lot. With the street car development, dept of homeland security moving there in 2014, new condo construction, 14th Street bridge construction, skyland eventually being renovated, 5 minutes from eastern market, 5 minutes to the ballpark, 10 minutes to downtown, 10 from VA and affordable/detached homes it’s the place to be. There is still a certain element, but I havent found it to be any worse than GA Ave. Just a thought.

    • Why did you have an appraisal done 6 months after you bought?

      • Added a laundry room and a few other things. had some left over cash and it was $225 — just wanted to see the value that was added. Wasnt expecting it to increase that much, but we are in the heart of the consrtuction area bwt St E’s and the bridge. They are building a park across the street from us too — probaly had something to do with as well.

    • This is where I am thinking, a nice house in the historic section of Anacostia. Very affordable relative to oter neighborhoods and tons of growth potential.

      For what it’s worth, there are still some values in Eckington, but it’s not nearly as good of a deal as it was when I bought in 2008. The list mentioned previously (Eckington, Trinidad, Hill East) is 2008’s list in my opinion. I think the new list might be near metro Anacostia and Capitol Heights. Like the previous suggestion for RIA metro/Edgewood/Brentwood too.

      For the best investment, I’d pick a multiunit property with a low mortgage relative to potential rents, walking distance to metro. Will hold it’s value and provide good revenue. Also, you can live in one unit and pay the mortgage by renting out the second (or third).

  • I agree w/anon @3:15 – the snark level is way up today!

    I also agree with this advice. Find something that you can afford, something you really like, check the comps and the neighborhood. We bought a lovely finished row house in Park View 2 years ago. It is in our price range, great neighbors and the our neighborhood is seeing considerable development. We love it and have not looked back. Do your homework and I think you should be fine.

    • “Do your homework and I think you should be fine.”

      THIS. I wish we’d done more homework.

      • where did you buy? and what do you wish you had known?

        • Petworth/Brightwood border. Just some general stuff I wish we’d examined more closely, both the area and the house. We were in a situation and rushed the decision.

          • I live there too! What do you wish you’d examined more in the area?

          • Oh just overall things like looking at more comps, checking out the plans/potential for Ga Ave and Kennedy St, checking out the immediate neighbors/houses, and honestly something like this–this discussion would have been helpful at the time.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I agree you should buy a place where you enjoy living. I’m renting at Petworth because I want more space and couldn’t afford or find it at Dupont. I wanted to see if I liked it. Since CVS and Subway have opened I am liking it more. I have closer to $200K to put into a place.

  • My Bloomingdale house has appreciate about $100k since I bought it a couple years ago, but that bubble may be on the full side now… Somewhere on the eastern side of NW is a good bet, I’d say. And you can get a whole house for your money, or a large condo, instead of a tiny studio.

    Also, Logan is still on the up-and-up, and there’s basically no chance for failure in real estate around that area.

  • Walking distance to Union Station has a good future.

  • Great question, disappointing answers…so far.

    With the streetcar coming to H Street, plus a rapidly growing retail area, I would suggest looking there.

    If you are willing to spend a little more initially my personal favorite neighborhood is, of course, my own.

    Look in the area bounded by Dupont to the West, New Jersey Ave to the East, Shaw to the North, and Chinatown to the South. Even in the past year the development in this area has been impressive, and I predict that in 10 years it will be one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city.

    Hope the comments remain helpful!

  • i think the rate or return for dc RE in 10 years will be highest in the brookland/woodridge/langdon area and in the rosedale carver/langston areas. i know those are broadish areas, but each have a lot in common.

    the first area will become the nearest desirable area to downtown with suburban living. yards. freestanding houses. sidewalks. great parks and rec centers. with the current middle class baby boom in dc, families will eat that shit up and there are tons of homes in the 300000-425000 prices range. great for first time buyer professional dc couples w/ or expecting kids.

    the second area of carver/langston/rosedale will be ripe for retail, residential development for those interested in a more urban dense area. amenities will skyrocket in 10 years.

    i live in nw, so i’m not trying to pimp my hood. in fact, i would not invest in a home in my area as i feel the return would not be so high, percentage wise. i think everything west of the tracks will remain stable in the next decade.

    east of the tracks is where good investment money is. west of the tracks still has potential for retail property though.

  • The answer is anywhere around H street. With 100K to put down, you could get a great, great house in Near Northeast, or put something like 30%+ down on a house in Trinidad or Rosedale.

    A lot of streets just south of H have already gone to Capitol Hill prices, but there are still tremendous deals to be had, and there is no other place in town that is changing as rapidly as H. I live in Rosedale and you can actually see, hear and feel the reconstruction popping all around, everywhere you look.

    Petworth is great, but 5-10 years from now H is going to be the premier arts and entertainment corridor of our nation’s capital while Petworth is still (mostly) going to be what it is now, a good, quiet residential neighborhood without being known for much else.

    • i think you’re going to need to go east of 12th or so to really get much of a return in 10 years. things are priced fairly high there, and the trolley mark up is already included. i’m thinking rate of return, not total dollar amount though.

      i do agree that in 10 years h street will be very much like 14th street while petworth will not see as much change.

      • Just checking some listings, you’re probably right about needing to go east of 12th (I would also say go north from H to K street).

        A lot of people don’t realize that the trolley tracks take a slight bend at the end of H and continue all the way to Kingman Park and Carver Langston. These two neighborhoods, in addition to Rosedale and Trinidad, offer the best value for money in the city right now. Obviously I would say Rosedale first because that’s the conclusion we came to when we bought.

        • i agree 100% about rosedale. good call on you part for buying there. all along benning is a good investment right now.

        • What part of the city is Rosedale considered? Is that the Benning Road area?

          • I consider Rosedale as much a part of H as the blocks north or south of H proper, as it shares a border with the Argonaut. Rosedale is that small nook under Benning Road where it just barely dips South from H Street, from 15th – 19th Streets NE and between Benning Road south to about D street NE.

            As is probably obvious, I am a shameless cheerleader for this neighborhood.

    • +1

  • Between H Street and Trinidad, for one. But maybe not ideal for someone in their 50s.

    Also, they are redoing the streetscape on Sherman in Columbia Heights, turning it from a once terrible speed way to a tree-lined, one-lane-each-way street.

    Ackington and Bloomingdale are nice if super-convenient access to the Metro is not important.

    • It should be noted that decent proximity to the metro is offered in areas of both neighborhoods. And both neighborhoods are closer to the metro than many places with similarly priced (or sometimes more expensive) housing prices.

  • pennyworth

    National Harbor!! In 5-10 years, you’ll be taking golden showers! GOLDEN!!!!

    • with all the outlet shopping you can dream of.

    • When Maryland fully legalizes casino gambling in 2-3 years, you can bet on the state’s first mega-casino being at National Harbor, too.

      Read between the lines: That’s the only reason National Harbor was built, because it anticipated casino gambling in Maryland.

      • Thats not true. There had been development work on that site for 20 years or more before National Harbor broke ground, the most recent false start before NH was Port America.

        Between neighborhood opposition, funding, and a dysfunctional local government things were very slow there. National Harbor, I believe, has already agreed to not put a casino there. The surrounding neighborhood’s worst fear is slots/casino.

  • Anacostia and Congress Heights have the cheapest housing stock right now for large, detached houses. In my opinion, those areas will give you the best return in 5 – 10 years with DHS headquarters and the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative (or whatever its called).

    That being said there is the element of risk associated with those areas. Anacostia and Congress Heights are also the closest neighborhoods to the new development at the National Harbor, which, along with DHS, will increase your value.

  • Orange County, California for sure… perfect weather and no bugs…

  • H Street is going to blow up once the streetcar comes online, but you can still find some deals north of the strip.

    Shaw will continue to blossom, ableit slowly and in fits and starts, as will Bloomingdale and Eckington.

    If you’ve got time to wait, Anacostia has it all: walkable commercial strip, close to downtown, solid housing stock, close to transit, street car on the way. You can get a great deal on a house, but you have to be willing to wait at least 10/15 years.

  • I don’t really see the Walter Reed site or really even Petworth blowing up. Property values will continue to rise, but it’s too far from metro and downtown and too established to see a rapid Columbia Heights-style rise in property values. Definitely a nice place to live, but it seems like the OP is looking for an “investment.”

    • Do not understand this reasoning. I have read comments like this before. Petworth too far from metro? depends on where you live in petworth. CH close to metro? it also depends on where you live. Some CH residents have to walk 15-20 min to get to the metro.

    • Walter Reed is 6 blocks from the metro (10 minute walk). The residential blocks to the east are even closer. In whose world if that “too far from the metro”??

  • any mixed use area IN downtown – more office/commercial than anything. it’s DC and downtown has always sprawled, albeit slowly.

  • Rosedale between 15th-17th.

  • anacostia is a great buy. most obvious investment potential, surprised it isn’t already more expensive. would have bought there but GF would not allow it.

    • It always surprises me that Georgetown and Old Town Alexandria are so developed and desired while the SW Waterfront, Anacostia, and until recently the National Harbor are barren wastelands. Who wouldn’t love to be near water?

    • Keep that GF

  • If I were her I would buy somewhere in between Lincoln Park and H St (10 – 14th sts and D-H Sts. NE).

    You have the quality of life that comes with living on the Hill, but you’re not in the already very expensive areas near Eastern Market or Union Station. It will also appreciate as H St. grows.

    No super convenient metro but lots of people on the Hill drive anyways and there is good bus service.

  • Brookland — It has nice-sized yards, is near the redline, and some new development is happening.

  • If DC can improve the level of its public schools, most neighborhoods will continue to rise in value. The city is very small and downtown is easily accessible from most neighborhoods. The fact that traffic is already horrible most anywhere outside the city helps the housing prices in the city as well.

    • agreed, 100%

      As an unmarried with no children, I think schools remain a top issue for home prices.

      • I just moved to the burbs for one and only one reason. I now have a dependent and want to send my kids to public schools. Fix the schools and I’ll be back in a second. Of course to fix the schools you need to fix the teachers, parents, and students so I felt quite comfortable signing up for a 30 year mortgage….

        I now fully expect to see 50 responses from people claiming the public schools in Petworth really aren’t that bad. Good luck with that.

        • What school district did you leave? Which one did you enter? That’s a ridiculous generalization.

          There is not a ubiquitous “DC Public Schools” — there are districts and programs, some a lot better than others. For example, most of my friends and acquaintences in Arlington, Fairfax and MoCo would be perfectly happy sending their kids to Janney or Stoddert. They live where they live for a variety of reasons.

          • Adams-Morgan to BCC. And the truth is that I could afford a house in the BCC school district (thanks to some creative boundaries they have) and I could not afford a house near Stoddert and Janney.

    • Part of the reason prices are starting to skyrocket in Capitol Hill *is* the schools. The Cap Hill parents have really worked hard to improve schools in the area. That’s part of the reason for the vehemence on the part of Hill East folks against the redistricting into Ward 7. Eastern High, which was the next target for renovation, then gets moved into a new ward.

  • No one has mentioned Mount Vernon Square! City Vista is up, the O Street Market will be rebuilt in the next few years with a nice new grocery store and retail, and hello — City Center is coming! The core of MVS, however, remains historic and lovely. The sellers of my home made a $200k profit, and people still consider the area iffy (I don’t, but there are crime hotspots nearby — mostly thefts/robberies and the like). You will definitely see some improvement in the next 5-10 years.

    • I agree. Bought a condo in the area between convention center and NJ Ave., and between NY Ave. and RI Ave., and LOVE it. A few blocks to metro, Circulator routes, grocery and hardware stores, Chinatown, and 20-30 minute walk to the mall, Union Station, Dupont, and U Street. Easy access to 395. Great residential neighborhood. Still a few “transitional” concerns (as noted above). I didn’t even know how great the location was when I bought here. Couldn’t be happier and plan on staying, but I’m quite sure it will be worth more than I paid if I should need to sell in a few years. Perfect location for me (retired and in my 50’s :-).

      • I love Mount Vernon Square, too. I moved here last year because I could get more for my money than in Dupont or Logan, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s perfectly located, with great retail and restaurants nearby and lots more on the way. I didn’t buy here because of expected investment return — I bought because I wanted to live here — but since prices here are lower than other close-in areas that are close to public transportation, I do expect that home values will appreciate.

  • Just north of H Street NE. Lots of growth possibility and relatively safe.

  • Don’t forget Georgia Avenue is getting a streetcar too, so I vote anywhere North of FL Ave for buck-bang: Pleasant Plains, Petworth, Walter Reed

  • my one bit of advice:

    – housing prices in DC will never really go down because of the government … in my view a ton of bs. the government will have to heavily cut its spend in the near term that means DC will be impacted due to less government jobs, and also less government contractors … which will mean DC housing market will be impacted. in my view anything that is borderline gentrified now will likely stagnate or go down in price in the long term. housing prices go down we just saw that on a national scale, and DC is not a separate universe, the general supply and demand laws apply here too.

    i would not listen to people that bought 6, 10, or more years ago .. they were lucky, to have money to buy at a time when there was a speculative housing bubble.

    all this said, i would look in a neighborhood where you feel fairly safe, with little public housing (mostly since they seem to drive crime judging by crime stats and talking to cops), and where you can see yourself stay for at least 10 to 15 years.

    • Do you know how much government would have to cut spending in order to dramatically affect payroll numbers here?

      The current total employment by the federal government in DC will not dramatically decrease no matter what kind of spending cuts are enacted.

      • If you get anywhere close to the kind of cuts that the Republicans are talking about, that could have a huge effect on the local housing market. And keep in mind that it’s not just the government employees — there are tons of contractors, lobbyists, etc. who all depend (directly or indirectly) on government spending.

        • If the Ryan budget were enacted word for word, DC employment wouldnt go down far enough (if at all) to have an impact on housing.

    • Your minimum timeframe for owning a home is 5 years. Even if the job market contracts locally over the next 2 – 3 years as the recovery takes hold, DC is still going to be the best place in America to find a job for that period of time.

      It’s sort of like saying, “Don’t buy in the best place — it will be slightly less good later. Instead buy in the 2nd best place, or some other place besides the best.” Makes no sense, unless you’re game to precisely time a second bottom in local RE. Problem with that is if you defer purchase for several years because of economic uncertainty, you might find later you’ve been priced out of the neighborhoods you desire. Unless you have unique insight that leads RE trends, this is exactly what will happen. By the time you recognize an uptrend, most others will have as well. It’s too late to get a good deal.

      In other words, if you’re buying for yourself first (and as an investment second), you shouldn’t be trying to pick out a bottom. Even if you buy ahead of but near a second low in DC RE, you’ve only given up a couple years’ appreciation. You try to buy after, you may not be able to buy period.

      It’s a gamble either way. Me — I prefer a bold mistake, to a cautious blunder.

  • Drive around and find areas with a lot of empty lands, or boarded up housing / store fronts.

    That is how I found Columbia Heights in 2002.

  • Looking forward 10 years from now? Shaw. It’s the geographic center of the city and severely underdeveloped.

    • interesting note: the 200 block of bates street nw is the population center of dc based on the 2010 census.

    • Shaw will be held back by all of the housing projects there. Unless those projects are closed (and there’s no way that’s going to happen in the next 10 years), those blocks won’t improve at all, and the blocks around them won’t improve much. That really limits the investment potential for almost all of Shaw.

      • ..and the God awful ugly “renos” to the housing stock. It burns my retinas when I go through Shaw – UGLY UGLY UGLY. Housing stock RUINED! Just a few blocks here and there managed to escape the destruction.

      • It hasnt held back Columbia Heights…

  • you folks realize that the “street cars” or “trolleys” you speak of are just glorified buses. They are designed like a bus, look like a bus, work like a bus but on tracks. They resemble the street cars in Philadelphia, and the presence of a street car line there has no real influence on property values. I suspect the same will be for DC.

    • You have absolutely no idea what you are are talking about.

      Thanks for your ‘suspicions’. You’ll be another person wondering how you missed the boat on H Street in 10 years.

      • I hope you are right, but there are plenty of examples of “street cars” not having an impact on property values to draw from. Philly is just one. I agree that H Street will continue to develop, but based on commercial development that started before the street car idea was hatched and on DC’s demographic trends. Have you looked at DC’s street car designs? They’re buses. On tracks. People, including the study you cited, are putting way too much hope into them. Even if they were perfectly designed, DC government will find a way to f it up as well.

        • I have studied the designs extensively. Sure, there are some details to be worked out, but I’m confident it’s going to be a complete game changer.

          A lot of the eventual success depends on light priority. Without it, it does get a lot more bus like and might not be seen as rapid transit akin to metrorail.

  • one more thing … interesting column in NYT the other day about gold but also true for housing …

    Gold is not an investment. It’s a speculation.

    Investments are made by evaluating underlying value. Speculative bets are made by looking at the price of something and simply hoping the price goes up. Investing is about value; gambling is about price.

  • I would look over by the Potomac Ave or Stadium metro stops… there are a lot of great fixer-uppers over there and those neighborhoods are coming along too. It all starts with a beer garden.

  • Near Northeast.

  • H St. NE, Benning RD NE and Anacostia will get you your best return in 10-15 years. I live on H St. NE which is definitely in the hood and I see a whole new crowd coming in. You can get a house for under $200K. You have to deal with hood stuff but 10-15 from now, it will be a different ball game and you will be laughing all the way to the bank. But again, can you deal with it for 10-15 years, some can, some can’t. If hearing gunshots and constantly seeing the jumpout boys (undercovers), crews of dboys and cops bothers you then I say it might not be for you. But like I said, I have see a lot of new faces walking their dogs lately so clearly they are not too worried about it. I mean really, if you are polite and mind your biz, people don’t mess with you. Dboys and the like don’t mess with citizens and they don’t want stuff going down drawing attention to themselves…

    I also used to live on 42nd and Benning NE across from 6D. It really wasn’t that bad, you can walk to the Benning Rd. metro in about 7 minutes, MN Ave metro in about 15 minutes. If you don’t care to walk the bus comes all of the time and will take you to either metro quickly. Also from what I heard, the street car will go all the way to SE once they figure out how to get it over the bridge. That area has a lot of promise but it is what it is now…

    Once Anacostia is done up, it will be a huge money maker for all of the reasons given earlier.

    • And when I say H St., I am talking Benning Rd. H St., past MD, FL and Bladensburg.

    • You’re right about H being the place to invest, but as somebody who lives just off Benning Road, it’s surprisingly quiet– sure, there is drug activity and some violent crime from time to time in the vicinity, but it hasn’t affected our day-to-day lives, and it’s certainly no different than Columbia Heights or Petworth. A lot of it is good block/bad block.

      You make it sound like the bank robbery escape from Heat is occurring in the Starburst Intersection at any given moment.

      • Damn, I had a whole reply typed and then I lost it all. I will just say this, my guess is that you live South of Benning, across from Hechinger Mall. I live on 18th and H, a block from Langston projects and it goes DOWN. Now if you don’t know what to look for then you might miss 2 carloads of jumpouts just sitting in a parked cars and all of the other nuances of living in the hood. On any given night cops are speeding down the street to Langston or up the block. While it might not be “Bank Robbery Heat” everynight, there is a lot going on. I’ve seen a lot of things and lived a lot of places, I know what I am talking about. That is not to say it is the worst place on earth, it is a working class neighborhood but it is what it is, inner city living. And with that you have to understand that some of those crews take care of a number of families on the block… True, we are ready to move (just ready to get out of the hood and dealing with hood shit) but we both feel relatively safe (anything can happen though) because we aren’t scared of our enviroment and we speak to and respect everyone and don’t look down on them so in turn they respect us. But yeah, it isn’t for everyone.

        • You’re absolutely right, I do live south of Benning and Hechinger Mall. I agree that things do change significantly up where you live, and I don’t don’t doubt the amount of activity you cite is accurate.

          Despite this activity (or maybe because of it?), Carver/Langston is one of the best values in the city right now, given the amount of close-proximity infrastructure development.

  • I wouldn’t put $100K into a house with the expectation that it would return value comparable to other investments on a 5 year timeline. I wouldn’t even assume the mortgage interest deduction looks the same five years out. Assuming that you’re looking for a $500K house with a $400K mortgage — it’s just a guess — I would actually consider a condo in a new building rather than a house. But I can tell you from personal knowledge that there’s some seriously undervalued real estate in Hyattsville.

  • I think Woodridge is an area to consider. The housing stock is great, you can find some really nice single family houses with decent yard space. I like the fact that the houses are all different. Solid working class neighborhood. RDown side, not near metro.

  • I would do a dumpy house in a nice neighborhood, which is what we were lucky enough to do the last two times. First Mt. Pleasant, now 14th St Heights.

  • andy

    Great question and some great responses. I really like where I live in 16th Street Heights and think there are some places where some work could turn a $350,000 house into a $500,000 house pretty quickly. And I think it is a great place to live.

    Within DC, some other places that balance livability and potential increased value include Brookland, Woodridge, near Northeast, Eckington, Shaw, Mt. Vernon Square, Brightwood west of Walter Reed and H St further east.

    I think there’s value in investing in Trinidad, Anacostia, Benning Road and similar places but I wouldn’t want to live there.

    The places I watch on Redfin for nice houses at good prices are in Crestwood, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood west of Walter Reed, Shepherd Park, Takoma, Woodridge, Eckington, Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park, and especially near Northeast (walk to Hill range) and Brookland (within walk to Metro). There are good deals to be had that are also currently livable homes and you could luck out with nearby charters.

  • I just bought a house in Brookland. We also looked in Takoma, near Walter Reid, and Petworth.

    In Takoma I just felt we were too far from downtown, Walter Reid was too far from metro (though good buses), and in Petworth in our price range all the houses were missing one of our key items (a real third bedroom, a yard, or too far from the metro)

    Brookland gives you nice sized houses, big yards at reasonable prices. You are near two metros so no matter where you end up you are close to one. I also thing Rhode Island has the potential to blow up as it will get street cards and has the proper commercial building stock. Also the projects by Catholic and Rhode Island metro will help. There also seems to be a number of large properties that could be developed in the future.

    To me for an area to really blow up, it has to be reasonably close to downtown and near a metro. While Petworth still has some work to do, it seems to me it is like H st, everyone knows it will happen at some point, so that is already factored into the prices. To make a lot of money you have to take a risk. Brookland is the last area of the city that meets the criteria that is not guaranteed to succeed.

  • Shaw. With the Howard Theatre being redone, the office building going up over the Shaw/Howard Metro and the Giant being improved, it is an amazing investment. If only I could buy here now and not rent!!!

  • Mount Rainier or Hyattsville – both are close to metro and are much more reasonable than other neighborhoods.

    Mount Rainier is what Takoma Park used to be before the obnoxious and pretentious rich hippies took over.

    That whole Rhode Island ave is zoned as an Arts district and development is underway.

    For 100,000 you can almost buy a foreclosed bungalow in Mount Rainier.

    • when is it that the hippies took over? the 70’s?
      while mount rainier is often called the “poor mans takoma park”, it’s still a pretty isolated place. you will need a car and you will need to get out of your city often.

      there are a few decent stores and that’s it. if you move there you will need to be a huge part in turing it in to something. and it has a long way to go.

      on the plus side, it’s cheap, has very cool bungalows, and you can have a yard. the pool is great. there are a lot of place to see art and take classes. and glut is awesome.

  • Blagden Alley area if it’s sooner rather then later, otherwise waterfront or Mt. Vernon. H Street,Anacostia, are also good bets.

  • A farm in Virginia.

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