Good Deal or Not? “Well sized bay front townhouse” edition

2011 13th Street Northwest

This house is located at 2011 13th Street, Northwest:


The listing says:

“Well sized bay front townhouse in super U Street/Logan neighborhood. 3 BR/2BA owner unit with double rear porches. 2 BR, 2 BA in-law suite in lower level. Roll up door secured parking for 1 or maybe 2 cars in the rear. Located 1/2 block from METRO. Shopping, restaurants, theaters, services located within 1-3 blocks. Close to Dupont, Adams Morgan. Move in ready.”

You can see a virtual tour here.

This 5 bed/4 bath is going for $1,080,000.

87 Comment

  • Priced for a bidding war? Seems to me this will go way over asking.

  • This is way underpriced, no? I think it’s lovely.

  • Definitely underpriced.

  • Scarily underpriced.

    • to be that underpriced. i’ve seen 3 bed/2 story houses with no english garden apt. below in that area go for 50% more.

  • So cheap they should be selling it at Walmart.

  • Priced this low, I can buy 2!

  • Comically, hilarious, laughably underpriced.

  • If I had the money I’d be making an offer right now.

  • Seriously. Where do they think they are, Detroit? Seems like they could double the price and still have no trouble selling it.

  • Yea, my first thought was that is crazy underpriced

    like wayyy wayyy under

  • Honestly, this seems like a pretty good price to me (I don’t think it is drastically under-priced). It is close to the metro, but that also means it is close to U Street, which is noisy. This is still U Street that we are talking about, not Dupont or Logan. If you look at the comps in the area, there is not much that has sold for a lot more than a million in this area (1.35 being the upper end in what I would consider more desirable locations).

    • Sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • That’s a great argument, supported by real, hard facts.

        • I have to agree though, you really don’t. With the Trader Joe’s about to open in the neighborhood and the fast paced changes that are happening on U Street, this is way underpriced.

          • When is the last time you went out on U Street at night? It is not as far along as some people seem to think. Look at the real estate comps of houses north of U Street and south of Florida and then we can talk (go to redfin and put 1 mil as the floor and search for sales).

    • I’d rather live here than “Logan”, because it is so close to the Metro. I’m partial to Metro, but a 30 second walk is pretty desirable in comparison to 10-15 minutes in some parts of Logan. Yeah, it could get noisy but don’t think that is a huge concern.

      • The point of calling it U Street and not Logan had to do with safety concerns and overall ambiance/vibe of the neighborhood. Sure, some people like you, may prefer U Street for the metro, but the fact of the matter is it does not fetch the same property values as Logan or Dupont and probably never will. If you had a million to spend on a house do you think that you would still be taking the metro as frequently? I have a feeling that puople in this price range are probably less concerned about the metro and more concerned about safety, schools, neighborhood amenities, etc. Also, I think noise is a huge concern for some home buyers.

        • My house is worth close to $900k and I still take metro (but more often walk or take the bus). I don’t know why someone would magically change their transit habits once they live in half of a million dollar house.

          • Because they can afford to change their transit habits and for convenience (not to mention cleanliness). That is like asking why a rich person drives a Ferrari instead of the Honda they owned when they were in college. Both cars will get you from point A to point B.

          • Your analogy is a poor one: there are A LOT of really well off folks who drive rather ho-hum vehicles.

          • If this were a $2 million house, I’d say the owners might not care about Metro accessibility. But for ~$1M, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Many people in D.C. don’t want to deal with having to drive to work.

          • Right. And let’s not forget that a substantial chunk of the mortgage is being offset by the in-law suite. A dual-income couple with modest-for-DC salaries could certainly live here, provided that they got a lot of downpayment money from family or selling their old house or whatever.

          • How is the Ferrari any cleaner or more convenient than the Honda? And I agree with the person above– plenty of well-off people (especially engineer/tech types) drive old beat-up cars. Unless they’re in a profession where appearances matter rich people can do whatever the hell they want with their money.

        • Anon 2:06 here. I can afford a million dollar house and I definitely still want to be closer to Metro. Not really seeing how Logan (especially close to 14th St) is any quieter or safer than U St. Dupont, I can see the argument.

          • It depends on specifically where you are in each neighborhood, but GENERALLY Logan has a more upscale feel with more high-end stores/restaurants than U Street – which I think more people associate with having a higher ratio of nightlife spots. So the name does mean quieter and safer to some people, even if that’s not true on every block.

  • it may be underpriced because that apartment does not have a c of o.

    • I saw lots of houses like this in Capitol Hill, and most did not have a C of O for the lower unit. Didn’t matter. They still fetched prices of around a million, and that was 3-4 years ago. I think U Street would command even higher prices.

      • Um, no. Maybe U Street is more appealing to DINKs. But they are still a very, very small proportion of the city.
        Cap Hill is always going to be more desirable than U Street, unless they decide to move the Capitol Building. Capitol Hill has decent schools for young kids along with members of the House and Senate living all over the area. There’s a much great built-in demand for CH than U Street will ever have.

        • Well, as a Capitol Hill homeowner I hope you’re right! We’re DINKs and mostly know other DINKs so maybe my perspective is skewed. 🙂

  • They should be able to get $2,700-$2,900 for the in law suite by itself. Great investment and unbelievable location. It sold for $849K in 2009…….. so I’m not sure how much over asking it will fetch. The pictures are nice, and it is prices at low-$400 per sqft. Just pricing at $500 per sqft yields close to $1.25 million. I’m guessing it’ll be bid up close to that in this (still) hot market.

    • Get with it people. “In Law Suite” is code for a basement living space which, according to DC Code and law, is not one that can be rented because it does not meet the legal requirements for being a rental ppeorty — generally because the space is actually a part of the main house and not a spearate unit. Hence, that space can generate no income. If someone does attempt to rent the space out, they could be in heaps of toruble with the City, their insurance company, and the like.

      • Guess what? A lot of people rent out basement apartments that do not have a C of O. If they didn’t there’d be a tremendous housing shortage in DC!

  • Considering this sort of space would work really well for a family, said family would have between few and no school options after Elementary in this neighborhood.

    • I don’t know, i think DINKs could easily live in the upstairs and rent out the basement suite. It isn’t really that huge, probably about 1,600 sqft upstairs. Having 3 BRs (using one for office, one for guest BR) isn’t really that gratuitous for DINKs.

    • Yup. This is actually what’s holding the area back. Not a lot of kids from high SES families in the immediate area because the schools are utter crap.

  • Its not really “that” much underpriced. At $440/sf it is within the lower range of the homes (similar condition) that have sold within a 2 block radius in the past 6 months. I expect it to get bid up, 5-6% but that isn’t exactly “rock bottom, Dollar Store” prices. This same house sold for 26% cheaper in 2009, and it hasn’t been renovated or anything since.

    Were it not for DC’s already receeding “boomtown” title, folks would think it crazy to pay that much for a house on such a noisy, crime-y, trash filled street, but hey…its the new paradigm so have at it.

    Word to the wise for those of you intent on catching “falling knives” in DC’s real estate market…DC’s red hot population growth, which more than doubled in a 7 month period from 486 people per month to 1002 people per month, and then jumped another 20% to 1200 people per month, peaked in early 2012 and has fallen 12% since.

    • Fallen 12%….. hahhaha…….. to a measly 1,000 people per month. DC’s population growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The population was 800,000 in the 1950’s, its got a lot of growth left in it. Shaw has about 50% of the population that it had in the 50’s. I’d guess that Shaw alone will add another 10K people in the next 15-20 years with all the condo development. I agree that the demand is crazy right now in DC housing, but there is a reason for it, the city was neglected for 30 years.

      • Prince Of Petworth

        “Ehh…” often writes these warnings on real estate posts. I’m beginning to think he/she works for the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce…

      • And truthfully, there isn’t a plethora of 4+ bedroom homes on the market south of Florida and East of 9th Street these days. Most of those have been carved up into condos.

      • Yeah, it’s not like people are picking up the paper and saying “Oh my God, DC is a boomtown! Let’s drop a million on a house!” They’re coming to (and staying in) DC for other reasons and need places to live. And the reasons to come and stay here keep getting more compelling.

      • “Isn’t slowing down anytime soon”.

        Does math confuse you? It already has, that’s the point. I find it strange that a bunch of folks, many of which who moved here since this boom started think that it will be unlike any other boom in the history of the nation, and not come to an end.
        DC population growth was a healthy and steady 300 residents a month coming off the peak of what was the , DCs biggest boom since WW2 (early 2008). Then, in less than 3 years that growth went from 300 residents a month to 1200 a month, a 400% increase and went from 22nd fastest growing urban area in the US to 4th. It has since fallen back to 14th in only 18 months. So, sure… Go ahead and keep telling yourselves that this boom “is different”, but As the numbers already show us…it isn’t.

        • I actually don’t think it’s a boom. It’s smart growth, backed by global trends, that shouldn’t result in a bust anytime soon.

          • A trend that literally appeared out of no where in a 30 month period, during the pit of the worst recession in 70 years? A trend that was only seen in the DC area, and wasn’t replicated in any of the nations other urban MSAs? Yeah, ok then 🙂

            If it isn’t a boom, and is a new trend then please explain why population growth has already declined 12% since it’s peak.

          • I’m talking about the trend, seen worldwide, of people moving into urban walkable areas.

        • You might be right, but this house isn’t in Mount Vernon or Eckington. I’d imagine the boom can recede and this area will continue to prosper and improve. If I had a million, I’d easily drop it on that house. It’s steps from all of the new crap opening up and down 14th Street and the new Trader Joe’s.

          And I imagine there are plenty of DINKs or couples with kids who can afford private school who don’t want to live in Chevy Chase or a two bedroom condo in Dupont.

        • The issue is not whether the “boom” recedes – all booms eventually do. The issue is whether the “boom” turns into a bust. While the population growth may have slowed, it’s still healthy; and there aren’t any signs of a major downturn in the real estate market – at least not in established areas. So a bust does not appear to be on the horizon. And if one does come, it should be less damaging than the last one in 2006 because it’s not nearly as easy to get credit to buy a house as it used to be.

        • Okay, so population growth has slowed a bit. This is true. Can you explain how this decline in population growth is going to decrease the desirability of living in walkable, amenity-rich neighborhoods? Will there be an increase in single family homes around the U st area now that less folks are moving into DC every month?

          • Desirability will have little to do with it. Desireable areas stay desireable, but with the slow in population growth, there are fewer people looking for homes, and ever fewer yet that can afford the million dollar barrier of entry that is now the norm in these places.

            The mechanics of the housing market haven’t changed, ever…and this will be no different. Even long established neighborhoods housing suffers. Longstanding desireable areas like Dupont Circle, Eastern Market, Cleveland Park all saw declines in their value in 2007 through 2009. They were still desireable neighbohoods, but declined anyway.

            The Districts population grown increased 400% in 30 months, a rate unmatched in any US urban area since the census started keeping track and only seen occasionally in small oil boom towns in Texas, Oklahoma and the Dakotas. To think that is normal, or that a small portion of that growth is permanently sustainable is just another way of deluding yourself.

          • The difference between oil boom towns and DC is that people abandon said oil towns after the oil runs dry. Are you predicting the next apocalypse here? The Fed’s are just going to go belly-up tomorrow, right? I guess I’m somewhat optimistic on the US not imploding in the near future. I never claimed that the price would continue to rise. I’m simply not buying the “falling knives” comment for relatively established desirable neighborhoods.

          • And the oil boomtowns don’t have populations that are highly educated in a wide range of desirable fields, either.

          • “with the slow in population growth, there are fewer people looking for homes”
            Population growth -> more people -> more people looking for homes
            Population decline -> fewer people -> fewer people looking for homes
            You are confusing growing at a slower pace with shrinking. There is no indication that the district’s population is declining or will be declining any time soon. Imagine only 250 people move to DC next month (a shocking decline in the growth rate!), they still need a place to live and will still increase housing demand.

    • This is actually the most reasonable, nuanced, and researched comment in this thread.
      It’s hard to sell for more than $1 million in this area, north of U Street. The property has to be REALLY special (this one isn’t). The schools suck, so you’ve got to sell to DINKs. You’ve already eliminated a lot of potential buyers who can drop that kind of money. There’s better options in DC, if you’re looking to spend $1-1.25 million.

      • Exactly. This is right down the street (further from the U Street metro, but closer to Dupont) and it has been sitting around for two months with the price dropping:

        • You act like being near Dupont is an amenity. We all know Dupont’s been in decline for a while.

          • only in terms of “hipness” among younger people. not in terms of real estate or overall desirability.

          • You know who’s buying in Dupont? Older, upper income, emptynesters running from the ‘burbs. I’d venture to say that Dupont’s population is starting to grey.
            In my area just north of U Street, I’ve seen older (age 50+) gay and straight couples buying up some of the newly renovated townhouses and condos. Many of the people walking their dogs in the ‘hood definitely appear to be an older demographic than a few years ago.
            I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing. If there’s another real estate crisis or spike in crime, these are the people who are probably going to flee as fast as they can.

    • What people don’t seem to understand is that what goes up, must come down. Nearly all of the growth here can be traced back to government-related jobs, and we’re at the beginning of a major downward trend in federal spending. I firmly believe that most of the commenters here who think this place is vastly underpriced are homeowners themselves, who are more interested in protecting the value of their own property than facing the reality that DC housing prices are not going to continue to skyrocket for all eternity.

  • In all seriousness though, the mortgage on this place would be like $4,000-$5,000 a month and the rental would cover more than half of it easily. If you can qualify for the loan, swing a downpayment, and handle being landlord you could live here for like $1500 a month.

    • The mortgage is actually around $6000, if you assume $150K down payment (~15%). Unless you’re insanely rich, I think most people – including two well paid gov’t lawyers – wouldn’t want to put much more than that into a down payment. Gotta diversify yo’ bonds and keep some liquid assets. They’d still need another $30K for closing costs.
      I hear ya on the rent, but the banks won’t approve the loan based upon the potential rental income. You got to be able to afford the whole place without the rental unit, otherwise you won’t get approved. Especially for a risky jumbo mortgage.

      • This is exactly right. It’s all about having the income to qualify. I’m friends with a two-attorney couple in their early 30s who live rent free because they had the income to qualify for a 3-unit property. They rent two units out to pay the entirety of their mortgage and change, and thus pay nothing to live in the 2,000 sq-ft third unit. You gotta be rich to have low housing costs in this city.

  • Times like this I wish people outside of DC were reading these threads. They’d drop dead with shock if they knew that over a million for a modest rowhouse is considered cheap!

  • PoP, this discussion screams for a follow-up post when it sells.

  • This house sold in three days.

    No clue how much it actually went to contract for, but with that speed, I find it hard to believe it went for below asking.

    I guess it wasn’t overpriced after all.

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