Good Deal or Not? “Total renovation” edition (reader request)

921 Quincy Street Northwest

This house is located at 921 Quincy Street, NW:

View Larger Map

The listing says:

“Offers due Wed 4/24 at noon. 1 Block to METRO! Total renovation w/new 4 Zone HVAC, plumbing, roof & wiring make this home a must see. 3 full bedrooms, 3.5 bath, ensuite master, including inlaw suite w/separate entrance & W/D hookup. Upgraded & European fixtures, gigabit home network, hardwoods, marble, granite, W/D upstairs, top rated appliances,secure garage, yard, security system & more”

You can see a virtual tour here.

This 3 bed/3.5 bath is going for $699,000.

63 Comment

  • Well that won’t have any problem selling for list price…probably higher.

  • Hmm, I think I have to give this a solid ‘meh.’ I wanted to love it – Great location, and definitely a lot of potential with the backyard, and very nice kitchen, but all that carpetting, plus no windows in the kitchen, and fairly small rooms. For $700k, from what I’ve seen on the market, I think you could find something somewhat more ‘done’…

    • Agree. Seemed like a nice place until they showed the upstairs. For about $700 I would have imagined hard wood floors throughout and a nicer yard.

    • I went to the open house. The back bedrooms extend over the original sleeping porch and the upstairs hardwoods stopped halfway back with the remainder of the flooring being plywood. Rather than trying to match the wood, the developer just carpeted everything over. Unfortunate, and it makes me wonder what other corners were cut.

      • This is exactly what we did when we renovated this part of our house, though we only carpeted the back portion and left the original wood floors uncovered (refinished). It would have been impossible or terribly expensive and time consuming to try to match 90-year-old wood floors, and even so I don’t think they would have blended in. I think it turned out pretty well.

    • Take a look at the floor plan, there is no opportunity to get natural light in the kitchen of this row house. Whoever buys this should be prepared for 7AM construction M-Sat in their backyard. Once the new Safeway/apartment building is up the alley in back will be a mess. Also the bedrooms are very large, again see the floor plan.

  • epric002

    i’ve been watching the work on this one for months now. looks like they did a great job, beautiful kitchen! too bad they did carpet upstairs, and i’ve heard that the backyard has no buffer b/n it and the new safeway site. since the other recent sale on quincy went for like $25k over list, i don’t see how this one won’t sell for over list. wish there was an open house listed!

  • This is priced so that the escalation clauses will kick in. 902 Quincy sold for 725K and this will go for at least that. Your back alley will be the access to the Safeway parking garage, so I hope the eventual owner won’t mind the constant traffic and noise.

  • Ugh, another boring renovation. How is this going for $699K when this beauty, just a bit more north, is pending for $534K?!

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Those are two very very different locations. Proximity to metro 11th Street restaurants etc.

    • If by “just a bit more north” you mean 1 mile, then there’s your answer…

    • That house is at 575K. It’s also a mile from the metro. People will pay for convenience.

    • In addition to what everyone else said, there’s also the little matter of the word “pending” – we don’t know what it will sell for. Sure, it’s listed at $534k, but what will it close at?

    • That is a tremendously more beautiful product for it’s mile difference to still dock it over $100,000!

      • Not really- look how much more houses go for in Mt Pleasant and Columbia Heights, both of which are within a mile of this house. It’s just not appropriate to use houses in different neighborhoods as comps…

  • They took some shortcuts upstairs and in the basement with materials and fixtures. Should have kept wood floors and better tile upstairs in the plan. That being said, the location is excellent, especially once the safeway there is done.

  • There’s that stupid, ugly backsplash again. It’s a nice house that someone could probably spend very little on making it feel completely finished and homey. Also, great location.

  • Some people actually like carpet in a bedroom…an easy fix if you don’t.

  • Are we all talking about the same property? I toured it yesterday and was THRILLED to see three bedrooms that could actually fit good sized beds AND dressers. Kudos to the developer who had kids in mind too. My 3 and 4 year old would adore having all that room to play in the basement during winter months.

    • Any properly laid out 1600 square foot house in Petworth is going to have three usable bedrooms upstairs. I’m looking for houses and it’s hardly the first house I’ve seen with three bedrooms this size. It’s when you go sub 1300 square feet that you run into the 2 + den/closet type arrangement.

      • This house doesn’t have anywhere close to 1600 sqft above ground. They made both spare bedrooms narrow and long, as opposed to one larger and one more like an office.

        • Oh, totally. Redfin lists it as 1300 square feet finished. The extra 500 from the PoP listing are in the basement.

  • Saw this at the open house on Sunday. The upstairs bedrooms are a huge improvement over the unweatherized sleeping porch that was there before. I like hardwood, but carpeted bedrooms are great in wintertime, as well as if you have young children. The kitchen’s photos don’t really do it justice — very open with a walk-around island. Not sure how you’d expect to get natural light in the kitchen — it’s a rowhouse, and I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the extra space or the first floor powder room in that back sitting area. You can’t really see it in the pictures but adding a closet at the front entrance was a nice touch too.

  • Seems like the realtor found this discussion.

  • This thing is pretty homely and characterless for $700K.

  • To whoever said that it’s impossible to match 90 year old hardwoods, that’s not true. I just did it in my Petworth rowhouse from a HWF company that deals in recycled wood. It’s not that much more than putting in new wood and they can do an amazing job matching. It looks a million time better than carpet. Put down area rugs. Carpet is hell on allergy sufferers. P.S. – uninspired rehabs think this are the norm but the flippers don’t have much imagination or creativity and just keep using the same blah finishes all the time. And people keep buying so seems to be pure supply demand issue.

    Email if you want more info on the hwf stuff bestreet at outlook dot com

    • Also, with so many people ripping apart old houses in the area, your chance of finding nearly matching, salvaged flooring at Community Forklift or a similar place is pretty good.

  • If this place goes for 700K, that’s proof enough to me that there is a housing bubble in Petworth. The developer cut several corners, noticeable to the detail-oriented eye. Window screens torn, carpets put in because the developer didn’t want to take the time to sand, finish, and match the floors, doors unhinged.

    Furthermore, the alley behind this house will back the street to the new Safeway’s parking garage. When we asked the developer about this use of the alley, she avoided the question and said whatever the use, it’s a plus. There will be “more security cameras.” 700K=more security cameras. Awesome.

    Finally, FYI all, the developer is also the selling agent, so you really don’t know what is behind those walls.

  • An Open Letter To Developers in Washington, D.C.:

    Please, I beg of you, stop. You are destroying the character and charm of every single house that comes to market and that is in a price range that even resembles affordable. I can’t compete with your all cash offers on houses that are in my price range and that makes me very, very sad.

    I understand that you are not in this to make friends and I further understand that there is money to be made in buying and flipping houses. I’m appealing to you as a human being, capable of compassion and empathy. I ask that you leave an old house every once in a while for the little people, for those of us who might like to improve the property ourselves and then live in it, raise children there and, hopefully, grow old.

    Thank you.


    A Hopeful Buyer

    • You may just have to expand your shopping range. Many of the folks who have bought in Petworth through the years did so because they could no longer afford Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan or MtP.

      I feel your pain, honestly, but there are affordable houses all over town. Good luck.

      • I agree with this, but saying “I couldn’t afford Adams Morgan or CH so I bought an 1912 Wardman in Petworth” is different than “I’m getting outbid by flips near Brightwood so go live in some 1940s track housing in upper Ward 5.” It isn’t exactly comforting. There’s a limited supply of historic rowhouse stock and it’s getting impossible for people of average means to compete with a market dominated by cash flips.

    • justinbc

      It’s horribly boring. That’s about all I can say. I seriously cannot find one thing that’s appealing about that home, from the photos anyway. I wonder what those “top rated appliances” are…

    • Agreed and thanks for writing this. An owner-occupier buying a fixer-upper is 10x better than a god awful flipper-developer getting a hold of it, renovating it as cheaply as possible, and taking the equity out of the community. I wish our politicians would come up with a public policy solution to end this madness (ie. higher taxes on capital gains made on the sale, require a minimum holding period before reselling, etc.)

      They are buying these “all cash” deals with short term lines of credit. If they had to hold the house for two years before selling, they would be driven out of the market. Banks wouldn’t agree to take the risk.

    • Well look at this featured listing that’s on the sidebar:

      This house still has many of the original features, but modernized, close to the metro and at roughly $100,000 less, has room for the new buyer to make it his own. So don’t give up hope, those houses are still out there, grant it few and far between!

      • Dear Anon,

        Thank you for the tip. Unfortunately, the house to which you linked costs $600,000. Six Hundred Thousand Dollars! What are, you know, normal people supposed to do? My budget is $450K tops. Two years ago, that would have been more than enough to get a decent place in this city.

        My wife and I make $130,000/year combined. I’m not poor. And yet…

    • Blaming the flippers is only half the story. How about the people selling the houses? They’re just as culpable for choosing cash only offers over other offers. Yes, everyone wants to make a buck – but if an appeal is made, make it to both sides.

  • I bet this goes for asking if not higher based on recent sales in the general area.

    This house may need a total renovation and neighbors heard it auctioned for 520K to a developer, so clearly they think they have enough of a margin to get a profit:

    This house 678K and it has a dentist’s chair in the basement, so also needs renovation.

  • Our house next door, about 6 blocks north and further from Metro, went for 599K. So not too far of a stretch. Wouldn’t pay that myself but then again we got in in 2008.

  • Went to the open house. It was ok. Tiny garage, dark kitchen, carpets.

    I’m sure someone will pay $700k for it, but I wouldn’t.

  • I’d suggest Brightwood, Woodridge and areas around Brentwood and Cottage City/Riverdale MD for those folks who feel they’ve missed the affordability boat in Petworth, H Street, Bloomingdale and Brookland.

  • This is WAY over priced. It is the standard boring cheap crap done by a flipper. For 700k – at least finish the back yard!
    If you would pay for convenience to Metro – well go right ahead.

  • My, the trolls are out in force today. I think they kept all original hardwoods rather than dropping cheap new stuff that looks good for 5 months then falls apart…

  • Hi, owner here. A friend pointed us to this blog post. The vitriol on this thread is certainly significant, and disappointing to see coming from a community we have grown to love in the course of working on this lovely home. We are a small, native Washingtonian family (Mom, Dad and 3-year old son) who have used our skills in design, real property development, and geeky gigabit ethernet wiring (in Dad’s case), along with a team of wonderful and expert craftsmen, to completely renovate this property as a small business. They are extremely proud of their work, and they should be. We poured a *lot* of love into every corner of this home (just ask the wonderful neighbors on Quincy Street) and will be proud to have a new family move in. We will honestly miss being there, as we built the home to the standard we would want to live in.

    We are not a mega-corporate developer, we do not cut corners, we strive to retain original materials wherever we can, and we pay our team well to do quality work, which many do not.

    Petworth is a fantastic community, and Quincy is a great street. We are proud of our work, proud to be employing people at a fair wage, and proud to help restore and renovate a small part of Washington.

    • Well, whatever you ‘poured into it,’ somehow leaked out all the charm instead.

    • this is simply horse cookies

    • I think some of the vitriol stems from the fact that this house was on the market for 449K six months ago. There are of plenty of people who post here who would have bought this home, renovated it, and lived in it for years rather than trying to flip it six months later.

    • It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around how tearing down walls and ripping out molding is “restoring” this house. Old homes and the neighborhood should be respected more than this.

      • Unless you knew the previous owners and were in this house a year ago, you have no idea whether the mouldings were worth saving or if they were even there for this developer to work with. This sounds like a very heartfelt response from actual Washingtonians who care about DC and happen to have made a business around that. At least there wasn’t an awful pop-up or rear addition that they then chopped into condos.

    • Don’t even bother engaging. It is your house, you can do what you want with it. And I am sure it will sell.

      I think it looks nice and respect the work. Good luck.

  • there are still deals to be found in northern Petworth (Farragut to Kennedy St, though the southern border of affordability is moving further and further north over time). Some may have proximity to Fort Totten metro, but unfortunately due to geography there won’t be as many homes with metro access as with the Petworth metro due to the park.

    At this pace though, in a year or two those will also be selling in the high 500s low 600s. It’s already at the point where I probably couldn’t afford the house I bought 8 months ago at current prices, which is scary.

    I would be looking at Brookland or Michigan Park as a new buyer, prices aren’t yet in line with the proposed development in my opinion (unless you’re looking right by CUA metro)

  • I’m always surprised that flippers seem to think folks want a rowhouse’s first floor to be wide open as though it were a studio apartment or a warehouse conversion. Wooden floors are great, but taking out the LR/DR/Kit walls in these houses creates huge echoes, ones that make it difficult to sleep upstairs with a TV on in the LR. This is typical of the evolution that flippers have made in the last few years—-first it was open up the kitchen, then it was make a tiled breakfast room in the sun porch (despite there being a proper dining space in the next room), and now it’s opening up the whole first floor. I’m sure it’s the quick and easy way to make a space look hip. More than anything I’m disappointed that buyers aren’t more discerning. And, just a note to the owner who says she poured a lot of love into the house: come on!

    • That’s always how you tell the flip – open floor plan on the first floor.

      • Another way you tell a flip = a family that has a nice house not falling down around them in a cool neighborhood.

      • I agree re open floor plan = flipper. This always makes me look for the shortcuts! And I think, “How do these Gaithersburg people with a bit of money see a rowhouse in Petworth and think, ‘Urban Loft Apartment Look’?” But then I don’t see the difference between Germantown and Gaithersburg (wherever the hell they are) while I bet the flippers from there actually do!

Comments are closed.