Good Deal or Not? “needs major updating/renovating” edition

This house is located at 616 6th Street, NE:

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The Listing says:

“Great bones, solid but needs major updating/renovating. Estate sale, AS-IS. Deep backyard with garage. Full basement with front and back entrance. Great location.”

This 3 bed/2 bath is going for $685,000.

11 Comment

  • That’s a whole lot for a place that sounds like it needs major help.

  • Some of these listings are sounding like those in Columbia Heights circa 2005. “Total trash heap in a somewhat gentrified, trendy neighborhood! Roof doesn’t usually leak and there’s a working toilet.”

    • That block is a lot nicer than “somewhat gentrified” 2005 Columbia Heights. Still, $535 per sq/ft is a lot for a fixer upper.

  • It sounds a little high for a house that needs major updating/renovating. Right now, the finished square footage is 1,280, which for 2 floors with 3 bed/2bath plus kitchen and separate dining area means the rooms sounds pretty small. Don’t know if basement is included also in the finished square footage or not and if the patio is the unfinished square footage (about 600 or so). Even if basement has front/back entrance, it doesn’t mean it would be legal and don’t know if it has plumbing for kitchen and bath, unless I missed that somewhere. No pictures, even if needs an overhaul, leaves questions. Estate sale would say that the owners were old, getting old probably and I’m guessing were a little lax in maintaining the property but could be wrong about this.

  • I have to wonder what people are thinking/advice they are getting when they list these things at what are clearly unrealistic prices. yes, the market is slightly crazy right now verging on the totally insane due to a lack of inventory and low rates, but I can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to spend this kind of money on a fixer-upper in this part of Capitol Hill (nice but not like it’s just a few blocks from hot spots). I can only assume the seller is looking at comps for the area and seeing other 3/2’s going for over $600k and saying “hot damn!” let me get some of that. What they don’t realize is that there is a vastly different market for quasi-move-in ready, awesomely renovated, and “fixer-uppers”. There are plenty of places languishing on the market because they are over-priced.

    645 Morris Place — right around the corner from here–was listed at $599k in early April and was under contract in just under 3 weeks. It was move-in ready, albeit depending on new owner’s tastes could have used some real updating (probably could sink $100k into without blinking). If this place is in worse shape (and by that description I would say it definitely is) I don’t see how under any scenario they can expect to get close to $585k, let alone $685k. Then again, the tight market is starting to cause wacky things to happen (hearing that once again people are going without home inspections, which is just nutso with the District’s aging housing stock). I understand people are starting to get desperate, but didn’t the last time things got nuts tell us anything (i.e., it won’t always be nuts??) Better to sit back and wait instead of overpaying for something that you’ll still need to put $100-200k in (if you’re lucky).

    I guess that’s a long way of saying, probably not a good deal.

    • lb,

      I think irrational housing markets are unfortunate, but telling people to “just wait it out” isn’t soliving the problem.

      Why? Because some markets don’t ever stop gaining, or if they do cool, they cool a few percentage points.

      If someone was waiting to buy a house in Woodbridge, I would say…wait for the perfect one but housing prices in 6 of the 8 wards of DC never stopped increasing through the nations worst recession since the Great Depression. I had a friend who said they would wait out the Cleveland Park housing market where they wanted to live, in 2004. Yes…they are still waiting and housing prices in the 20008 zipcode have increased another 35% since.

      • Haha, waiting since 2004? Now that’s crazy!

        I’m not suggesting people wait 8 years. I’m saying that just because something isn’t on the market right this very second that meets your needs/price range doesn’t mean that something won’t pop up in the next 4-5 months. this house is the perfect example. As I noted, a place right around the corner in move-in condition was on the market just a few weeks ago for $85k less, and there was no bidding war for it (at least that I can tell).

        And while DC has retained its value/even increased and continues to be a good investment, ward by ward stats obfuscate the fact that there can be wide price fluctuations depending on specific location and condition of the house. A place that is move-in ready will go more than a place that needs to be gutted if the location is comparable.

        And I’m sorry–if the price for me to buy a house right now means having no home inspection contingency, then I’m not going to be buying a house.

        I’m hoping the laws of supply and demand will kick in to take the edge off some of the craziness. Developers/people thinking about selling have to be seeing how much money places are going for. That should mean more inventory getting listed (fingers crossed).

  • Surely they jest with that price.

  • I went and saw it. The place is a dump and would basically require being completely gutted. I would be interested if it were 150 less (and I’m shopping this exact neighborhood so I know how nuts it is).

  • A slight rant here. This is my favorite PoP feature, but it’s not as fun without photos of the inside. This is probably a ridiculous price, but I’m interested in seeing what needs to be done to the house. Just my two cents.

    • Watch an episode of The Wire where junkies are shooting up in an abandoned rowhouse. That’s close enough, minus the formstone.

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