From the Forum – Are Edgewood and Brookland Homes really Going for $600,000?

Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

Dear Popville — is this really happening?

“My husband and I are in the process of purchasing our first home.

Our realtor has put a focus on the Edgewood and Brookland neighborhoods since it previously looked like you can still get a house for a reasonable price.

However we have been baffled by these two recent purchases.

Are we really looking at spending nearly $600,000 for an up and coming neighborhood? Have we missed some big announcement for something coming to the area? Are we ever going to find something in our price range of under $500,000 if we want to stay in the District?

We are becoming discouraged.”

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197 Comment

  • my prediction is that that All rowhomes east of the River will be priced over 500K probably by the end of this year.

    • brookland_rez

      You mean west of the river right? I don’t see east of the river hitting that range this soon.

    • Dc sits between two rivers…

      • Really? New here?

      • While this may be a true comment that DC is between 2 rivers, there are no rowhomes located in Washington DC that are also west of Potomac River. I also know others who are looking in Brookland and having trouble finding something in their price range that doesn’t get snatched up in days. Good luck to all those currently looking for a place, whether it is renting or buying, I do not envy those looking. It is a tough market!

        • brookland_rez

          That’s because there’s no part of DC that is west of the Potomac river. And DC is not between two rivers. DC is east of the Potomac and the Anacostia river runs THROUGH it.

          • brookland_rez

            Arlington USED to be part of DC and it is west of the Potomac, but that hasn’t been the case since 1847.

  • You can still find some row houses in Petworth and Brightwood for $500 and under, but the prices are increasing quickly.

  • I would reference POP’s recent posting on “best neighborhoods to invest in” ….there are good recommendations.. Edgewood would surprise me at 600K….Brookland not as much. Brightwood is where a few friends recently bought at the same price point as you are looking in. Trinidad also will inevitably become a very nice place (many say it already has) but it’s still sort of dodgy in places. But prices across the district are escalating and there is just limited stock and alot of people moving in…which always pushes prices up. You can still find nice rowhouses in DC at 500K…. but in a year or two it will be alot harder.

  • I’m in the same boat, and it’s rough out there! Plus, a lot of sellers are asking buyers to waive the inspection, which is a pretty significant risk with these older row homes. I hope you have more luck than I’ve had so far. Maybe things will pick up in the spring?

    • There is just not that much inventory anymore in under 500k ranger. The ones that make it to the market- end up being bidding up. Right now investors can offer cash on properties 350-400k and still make an OK profit, but as prices continue to rise- they’ll start buying guy jobs at 500k and still be able to flip for profits.

      • Yeah, it took me over two years to get a place under 600k. The only way you will get under 500k is if it needs a lot of work and investors think it is slightly too expensive (unlikely).

        • Or it’s in a not great neighborhood (and probably not great in more than one dimension – crime, access to transit, neighborhood businesses, etc.).

        • I don’t entirely agree with you. While in some cases you might be going up against developers, in my experience there is plenty out there below $500 that is in good shape but open to regular buyers. Ibought a rowhouse just about a year ago, April 2013, and at the time found plenty of places in Petworth, Brightwood, Park View, Brookland, and Trinidad. Yes, the place won’t be brand new, with sparkling floors, and state of the art kitchen, but many of the places we looked at were in great shape. The house I ended up getting in Park View is all original (floors, molding, stairs and banister, etc.) in great shape with an updated kitchen, master bathroom and central A/C for under $500k. You need to be patient, look at a broad area, and be ready to pounce as soon as the right one comes around.

          As for the inspection clause, what we ended up doing was doing a pre-offer inspection, so that we were sure of what we were getting into before putting in an offer. yes, it’s a risk, and we could have lost a few hundred $$’s, but having done it was what made us the most attractive offer. Talk options over with your realtor if you haven’t already. Each offer we lost taught us a little about how to approach the next one and what to do to get a killer offer.


          • The market has increased 12-15% in the last year I think, so what was a 500k home is now a 560-575k home.

          • One key thing- you bought in April 2013. Last year was a tough market this year is even tougher! Investors ravaged this city in the past 6 months.

    • brookland_rez

      It’s starting to feel like 2005 again. I’m just glad this time around I own a place and am not in the market. My sympathies go out to everyone looking in this competitive market. The market will dip eventually, these things always run in cycles. But I think the next dip is at least a couple of years off and the dip probably won’t dip to the present prices, just my opinion.

  • All these home prices will plateau at the jumbo mortgage limit. They will eventually get there – some areas will obviously take longer than others.

    • Jumbo loan is DC is 417k. Everyone who is buying houses over 525k with 20% down are taking out jumbo loans.

      • I’m not sure of the proper terminology, but the relevant limit is 625k in DC and other high cost areas. I believe this may be referred to as non-conforming? Lowest rates are at $625k. Correct me terminology if it is wrong, but I know this three-tiered rate system is correct.

        • Whoah, something got really messed up wiht my message as a result of the less-than, greater-than signs (which I think PoP filters out… and everything in between).

          What i was saying is this:
          I’m not sure of the proper terminology, but the relevant limit is 625k in DC and other high cost areas. I believe this may be referred to as non-conforming? Lowest rates are for loans under 417k, with still reasonable rates between 417k and $625k. It’s not until greater than 625k that you get into traditional “jumbo rate” territory for DC and other areas designated high cost of living. Correct my terminology if it is wrong, but I know this three-tiered rate system is correct.

        • Yes, you are correct. The limit set by FHFA for their guarantee in DC is $625K. After that, your interest expenses shoot up as Fannie won’t buy those loans and securitize them. They have to be carried on the lender’s balance sheet or go into a private-label securitization, which is expensive for all parties. Most of these fringe neighborhoods are going to tap out at these levels, as borrowers can’t get much more credit unless they are coming in with huge down payments. But my guess is that most people buying in a fringe area can’t afford a huge down payment, otherwise they’d be in CoHi, Logan, or WOTP.

        • 625,500 is the conforming Jumbo limit. Above this you are looking at a non-conforming loan. Below 417K is considered just conforming.

          • You guys are all mistaken. Yes, conforming loans in expensive areas, including DC, are up to 625k.

            Oddly, and this has been the case since September, interest rates on non-conforming loans are lower than conforming loans. Thus, you may actually pay less per month is you borrow 700k than if you borrow 600k. These are crazy times. I could devote a lengthy post discussing why this is happening, but the main point is that it’s happening.

      • That’s false. I bought a house for $578K with 20% down and it was not a jumbo loan.

        • Exactly. Ours was just about $500 with 20% down and got 3.75%.

        • I’m assuming you mean what ‘rkmdc’ said is false. What ‘dat’ said is correct. After $625,500 it goes into a different territory but rates for loans above $625,500 are actually even lower right now….

          I’m a real estate agent and I have weekly rates sent to me by some of the best lenders I know. What I got sent at noon today was the following:

          Rates as of 3/12/14

          Conforming: 3.875% with 0 points

          High Balance: 3.875% with 0 points

          Conforming loans up to $417,000

          30 year fixed: 4.375% with 0 points

          15 year fixed: 3.375% with 0 points

          10/1 ARM: 3.625% with 0 points

          7/1 ARM: 3.25% with 0 points

          5/1 ARM: 2.75% with 0 points

          High Balance loans $417,001-$625,500

          30 year fixed: 4.25% with 0 points

          15 year fixed: 3.50% with 0 points

          10/1 ARM: 3.625% with 0 points

          7/1 ARM: 3.25% with 0 points

          5/1 ARM: 2.75% with 0 points

          30 year fixed: 4.125% with 0 points

          15 year fixed: 3.50% with 0 points

          10/1 ARM: 3.50% with 0 points

          7/1 ARM: 3.125% with 0 points

          5/1 ARM: 2.625% with 0 points

        • DC’s nonconventional limit is $625.500 for DC (and other high cost metro areas). It’s $417K for the rest of the country. If your loan is greater than $625K in DC, you’re in jumbo territory and Fannie Mae won’t buy your loan.

      • Not necessarily. For a house over 525k, with 20% down, you can take out a regular loan for 417k, and then get a second loan from another lender for the additional 100k or whatever. The interest rate on the second loan may be a bit higher, though.

    • brookland_rez

      You know, a lot of people say that, but the jumbo loan limit hasn’t stopped neighborhoods west of the park from hitting million dollar+ averages. A lot of people don’t need to finance their entire home purchase.

  • “Have we missed some big announcement for something coming to the area?” Well DC is building a bridge to make the Rhode Island Ave metro station accessible from the west: Folks in Edgewood will not have to walk under the Rhode Island Ave underpass to get to the metro when the project is complete.

    • brookland_rez

      And that will make them able to also access all the new restaurants opening there. What I want to know is when are all those decrepit warehouses around there going to get redeveloped? Seems like demand is ripe. There’s also the gravel pit next to the MBT trail. Every time I go running on that trail it makes me think that the land is certainly more valuable than for what it’s being used. Really, all the current development through there could be razed and redeveloped- Foreman Mills, Autozone, the warehouses, etc.

      • +1000. I think the answer is: when NoMA is built out.

      • brookland_rez

        I did go to DDOT’s meeting last night for RIA. In the next 2-3 years, they are going to be completely redoing the road, sidewalks, everything. New trees, new benches. Their plans look impressive. It will make RIA one of nicest looking main roads in all of DC. That should help things move along through there.

      • Every time I run MBT, I look at the warehouse on Randolph St and think about how awesome a coffee place/bar/bike shop would be in that space.

    • Does anyone know when the condo development at 4th and Rhode Island (beside Forman Mills) is starting construction?

  • That place is very close to the Metro and it’s on a really nice block, so maybe that explains the price.

    But these stupid house flippers need to stop putting up cheap garage doors in the alleys instead of proper weatherproof roll-up doors. The components aren’t meant for outdoor use and all of the installations I’ve seen violate multiple codes. And when it snows or rains and then freezes, they stop working, which can be a safety hazard.

    • Agree 100% on the doors vs roll-ups. But it’s an easy way for a developer to cut corners and most buyers won’t know the difference until it rains for the first time.

    • I think that roll-up doors are not allowed anymore because they are technically not residential doors (they are commercial).

    • I installed one of these you refer to behind my own house. It’s not a safety hazard when they stop working, you just pull the red cord and pull it up manually. Please elaborate on the ‘codes’ that are being violated….
      You are correct that this is not the exact intended application for these doors and warranties are void if you install them outside. But if the proper housing is built for the mechanical/electrical aspects of it, you should be fine.

      The ‘commercial’ doors are incredibly expensive in comparison. That is why developers or normal homeowners do not put them up. Furthermore, why would someone put up a weatherproof or insulated door when the top is going to be left open? The reason the top is left open is in most cases due to lot coverage rules. You can’t have more than 60% of a lot improved due to concerns with storm water run off.

      • With the track left exposed, accumulated ice can make it very difficult to open. And in many situations, the garage door is the only manner of egress through the back yard.

      • Justify it all you want, but those indoor garage doors are huge pieces of shit. All the ones I’ve seen have broken down after a year or two. They’re not made to withstand exposure to the elements. You’ll be replacing yours too.
        A cheaper alternative is a sliding gate/fence if you don’t want to shell out for a $10K Pooner. For $5K, you can get a really nice customized gate or moveable fence.

  • If you want a newly renovated row house for under 500K, good luck. I’d look at fixer uppers closer to 500K – they’ll be priced just high enough that flippers won’t go for them. Anything sub 450K in an up and coming neighborhood is destined to be a cash offer/flip type situation.

    • epric002

      agree. and they can be found, but they’re usually farther from metro.

    • But if it’s a fixer upper for 500k (and requires those fixes to be liveable), then it’s still out of their price range once you factor in the cost of the fixing upping. If its a house that could use some updating but is totally functional until you get around to it, then your advice is ok.

      • A house that isn’t perfect that you can live in is a fixer-upper in my book. A house that isn’t habitable is “a disaster.”

  • Not to be a Debbie Downer, but good luck finding ANYTHING in Brookland for under $500K, and that’s for something that needs work. I bought here seven years ago when it was still pretty cheap, so I’m thrilled that the property values have gone up so much. But geez, the renos are poorly done and the ones that haven’t been touched need a lot more than a coat of paint. If you like the style of Brookland, would you be willing to consider Woodridge? Not walking distance to metro, but reliable bus service and you can still get a nice house without selling your soul.

    • I was just going to say, check out Woodridge and Michigan Park. There’s two houses on my block (a very quiet street) going for under $400k- both need renovations. The location is directly across the street from Brookland and under a 20 minute walk to the metro.

  • I’d go with a realtor that both buys and sells properties — we bought last October in Edgewood and were the winning bid even though our bid was $10K less than the highest offer, because the seller had originally bought their house through real estate company and wanted to keep it “in the family”. Obviously you won’t have the same person buying and selling the house, but having both within the same real estate company was definitely an advantage in our case!

    • I’ve never heard of this phenomenon before — I’d imagine that the vast majority of sellers/buyers don’t care whether the other party’s agent belongs to the same company.
      I’d guess it makes it somewhat easier logistically if both agents work for the same company, but it seems odd to have a nostalgic fondness for a _company_, as opposed to an individual agent.

      • We got our house several years ago because our agent knew the renovator personally and got us in before the open house. While there were eventually LOTS of offers well above our offer at asking price he wanted to work with us and our realtor because they had done business before and he knew the transaction would be smooth. Same reason that all cash offers have a lot more leverage at a lower price than folks trying to buy with traditional financing. Every day the house sits before closing is money out of somebody’s pocket.

        • Yeah, I think the “previous connection between two individuals” factor makes sense. What I don’t understand is the seller choosing a buyer whose agent is from, say, Long and Foster just because the seller used an agent from Long and Foster 15 years ago. (Maybe it was a tiny family-owned company??)

    • Wait, the seller originally bought their house from your agent, or they were using an agent who worked for the same company as yours?

    • houseintherear

      I’d imagine this cut their fees to the realtor in half, so that makes sense if the property is above like $100k. I did this, as a buyer, and I wish I hadn’t… I did not get the representation I should have to get an ideal deal, as far as bidding and ultimate fees on the purchase. But it does work well for some people, like you! 🙂

  • Brookland: Rumors (confirmation?) of Whole Foods and Meridian Pint v2
    Edgewood: Everyone that is getting priced out of Petworth (just as much of Petworth is the people who got priced out of Columbia Heights)

  • Here you go:

    You might try Woodridge or Michigan Park. No real metro access, but there are still some decent places in the 500-550k range.

  • These days, it’s difficult for a couple to purchase a row house as their first home (as least in a decent neighborhood). I urge you to consider a condo or coop.

  • “Have we missed some big announcement for something coming to the area?”

    Eh, the OP didn’t miss an announcement but someone, somewhere didn’t properly gauge the market.

  • When we bought in Truxton Circle, near 1st and P NW in late 2003, people thought we were absolutely crazy. We wanted a house, not a condo, and we took a gamble on a neighborhood we thought we would appreciate. The conventional wisdom was still “not east of 14th St” or “not east of 7th” depending on the fear factor. I remember driving through the area thinking “WHO would LIVE HERE???” Now, I love it. And to be honest, there hasn’t been a huge change in super close-by amenities (Big Bear opened soon after, but the only other change within four blocks has been the wonderful Uncle Chips and DC Smokehouse.)

    My point is, look beyond your original expectations to neighborhoods you hadn’t considered. Woodbridge, Kingman Park adn Pleasant Plains are all great ideas. Or think about Mr Rainier. Not in the city but one of the absolute best neighborhoods close by.

    • I feel the same way about West Hyattsville and Forest Glen, although they are admittedly much more suburban

      • When I got a condo, I never expected to land in SW. And living here all my life, I had never ventured into SW up until 3 years ago. I think if you can go w/an open mind and accept the fact that you’re probably priced out of 90% of the city, then you should be OK. Don’t go over your budget just to say you live in DC.

        • But any close-in suburb – Arlington, Silver Spring etc. with good transportation options is equally expensive.

          • There’s a development in Silver Spring, near the Glenmont metro. The prices are high, high 500’s, low 600s, but you have so much house to go with it, that it’s probably a better buy than buying a rowhouse in DC. So yeah, it’s probably as expensive, but at the same time, you probably get more house/square footage. IDK, just something to think about.

          • There are some decent deals in Silver Spring. And the fact that it’s not Virginia is a huge plus.

    • No huge change in terms of amenities? Maybe not immediately nearby, but NoMa is less than a 10 minute walk. Safeway/Chipotle/Ace/Busboys at 5th and K, another less-than-10 minute walk. There are plenty of amenities popping up around you. 🙂

    • I will be your neighbor in a month!

    • I don’t know about those other neighborhoods, but I’m pretty sure Pleasant Plains is more expensive than Edgewood, and probably Brookland too..

    • Hi neighbor! I’m on P and 3rd and have had the same experience. My friends all thought I was moving to the other side of the moon and now when they come over they coo about how we’re in the middle of everything. Also really nice neighbors and a cute little house!

    • Agreed. We ended up in Brookland in 2007 because we were priced out of Capitol Hill. It’s panned out very well for us, and I think that being more flexible about neighborhood was a great move. We’re very happy, and we’re seeing the benefits of taking a gamble.

    • brookland_rez

      They still said that when I lived at 1st and R NE from 2008-2009. When I bought in 2009, Brookland was kind of an enclave. Eckington, Edgewood, etc. were still pretty rough.

    • Same here. When we bought in Mt. Pleasant in 1993, one friend sarcastically said “oh, I’m sorry.” Of course, this was in the midst of the 1993 Shotgun Shooter (James Swann, not John Allen Mohammad) and two years after the riots.

    • When I bought in Ledroit Park in 2003 people thought I was crazy, and the neighborhood was extremely rough – on my block more than half of the houses were boarded up, Parker Flats was still a decrepit haunted-looking school, and there were no amenities other than a chinese restaurant where you ordered through plexiglass and a bunch of corner stores selling mostly malt liquor and blunts. I enjoyed it, actually, and a lot of the nice people who were there then, who taught me that it is proper to greet strangers as you walk past them on the sidewalk, are still living in their rowhouses today. In the meantime, all the boarded up houses have been transformed, and now I can walk to Red Hen and drop $200 on a dinner for two. So yeah, neighborhoods change.

  • As an investor who buys properties and therefore often beats out individuals looking for their home I can tell you that you’re in a tough position. Not only can I outbid you but I can bring all cash to the table – no seller is going to turn that down.

    • Actually I’d turn it down. Your pompous attitude and the fact that I know my house would be destroyed after you rip out all the original charm would be enough for me to send developers and their all-cash offers packing. Of course, I’m not selling my house right now, but if I was, that’s how I’d feel.

      • The issue is that the real estate agent heavily pressures the seller to accept the lower, all-cash bid. By that point the seller is usually quite stressed and easily manipulated. But if you’ve done your due diligence on the buyer, it’s pretty dumb to leave $10-25K on the table because you didn’t want to wait 30 days for the loan approval and closing. I sure as hell don’t make that kind of money in that amount of time.

        • Yeah I get that with uneducated sellers or perhaps someone who’s in a bind and needs the cash immediately. However, for someone who knows what they’re doing, it shouldn’t be an issue. I got an all-cash offer on my last house from a developer and we told him to take a hike (and my agent advised me to do so as well, FWIW). Ended up getting $75K over asking from a buyer who was going to live in the house herself and needed to finance it.

      • Consider upping your budget, but look for a house with a rental. Our rental gave us ~$300k breathing room.

        • not sure how this ended up here.

        • I agree. We would have never been able to afford the neighborhood we’re in now if it weren’t for the basement rental. Our rental also added about $300K to our budget. I will say that houses with separate rental potential are in high demand- especially in the $600K and under price range- so the competition will be just as fierce.

          • But OP could look for a $700k house with a rental that drops ~$200k off their mortgage. But yeah, competition is tough for these places.

          • this only works if you want to be a landlord, and you have the savings to deal with repairs or the tenant breaking the lease/stopping paying rent for a few months.

          • Agree with you SBC. We definitely COULD pay the mortgage on our own if necessary, but it would be a stretch for our finances and we’d have to cut stuff like going out to dinner etc until we found a new tenant. No lender will finance you if you can’t pay it on your own. They don’t consider rental income when deciding what amount you qualify for.

      • brookland_rez

        You’re in the minority. Sellers prefer cash offers, and a lot of these sales are estate sales where they don’t really care about anything except maximum dollar.

        • A person seeking maximum dollar wouldn’t leave tens of thousands on the table.
          I agree that many are estate sales and they just want to close the sale as soon as possible. Getting the windfall of $400K for a fixer upper that their parents owned for 40 years is already way more money that these folks know what to do with. So what’s another $25K?

      • you can say that all day long, but when someone offers a rapid, hassle-free closing – i’ll bet you sing a different tune.

        • Actually, as I stated above, I already turned down an all-cash offer from a developer on my last house because the financed offers were much, much higher. I was in no rush since I already had moved into my second house and didn’t really care if I had to wait an extra 30 days.

    • houseintherear

      Curious- I feel like I know a good deal about real estate, but I guess I don’t really get the all-cash-offer thing… is the appeal just having the $ quicker? Or are there some fees or something saved by not waiting for the money to come from the borrower’s bank/mortgage holder?

      • From what I understand, they usually have a fat line of revolving credit with a local bank and can draw on it within the same day/24 hours. They’re still (usually) playing with other people’s money.

      • It’s [near] certain proof that the buyer actually has the money that they claim. Folks who are taking out mortgages still need those loans approved by the bank, so there’s some level of uncertainty of the buyer’s loan will actually come through.

      • I agree- I offered 40K more than an investor “all cash” offer and I the owners chose investors. I was neighbors for 7 years with these owners and I begged and begged. The husband was ok with selling it to me, but the wife wanted wanted the cash immediately. She walked away from 40k for maybe a 2 weeks worth of waiting. If our deal fell through- I’m sure the investor would have still been there, if not another one would have.

        • The wife is an idiot. Who the hell leaves $40K on the table?!?! So stupid.

          • That additional $40k would be contingent on the home appraising for that increased offer. If the bank said its not worth $40k more, you have to lower the price or look at other cash offers which can pay whatever they please. This is why cash is KING unfortunately: There is no bank to derail an offer from closing.

      • Quicker money, no waiting on contingencies such as inspection, appraisal, financing. There are not extra fees associated with a buyer who needs a loan, just extra time. Worth the wait in my opinion to ensure some smug a-hole isn’t getting my house and someone who will actually appreciate it will.

      • RE Agent here – Financing is not required in an all cash offer which eliminates the need for several things. No appraisal is required and so no appraisal contingency is required. No financing contingency. In other words it’s a SURE thing and from a seller’s point of view there’s very little risk of the deal falling apart.

      • All cash closes faster, can usually get you the exact closing date that you want (important if you are buying a new house at the same time and juggling all of that nonsense) and there is zero chance that financing will fall through and torpedo the deal.

      • Less risk. Even with a pre-approval, the house could not appraise high enough or the financing could be denied for some other reason. With cash, appraisals don’t matter (unless they add a contingency) and you can close quickly.

      • With all cash you know the deal will close, and will close quickly. There can always be delays associated with financing, or the deal can fall through alltogether. Having a purchaser pre-approved for a mortgage doesn’t guarantee the financing will go through – always the risk that the purchaser’s financial status will change (job loss) or the bank will look at the home and think it’s not worth the $ of the mortgage.

      • am I the only one who thinks the district is in a huge housing bubble right now? These prices are ridiculous, IMHO.

        You buy in a developing neighborhood because you can pay less $ and get in on the ground floor before a neighborhood really takes off. But it seems like people are buying in developing neighborhoods, and paying as if the neighborhood was already developed.

        I love the district dearly, but I would absolutely not buy property there right now. I sold my place to cash in, and am happy I did.

        • I’m thinking the same thing. When Edgewood is hitting nonconforming loan limits, that means it’s really frothy.

          • I think you have to factor in the reversal of the dominant suburban/car paradigm to an increasing number of people that value urban housing/easy commute. I don’t think that’s a temporary fad. That combined with the drop in crime and improved city services, there’s a huge number of people that would never have considered living in or near the city that are increasing the demand IMO.

        • brookland_rez

          I don’t know what’s going on, but it seems like gentrification is about to hit hyperdrive. There plenty of affordable housing east of the river. I think people need to start considering that, especially near metros. All these areas that are booming now were pretty shitty 10 years ago. I don’t think east of the river today is any worse than these areas were 10 years ago.

          • brookland_rez

            Or maybe all the funny money being pumped into the economy is landing right here?

          • I think a lot of funny money is landing right here in DC. People are leaving tens of thousands on the table in order to take all-cash offers. That’s not a normal functioning housing market. That’s a huge sign that something isn’t right.
            We are also in the beginning of a long-term trend of shrinking the government after the biggest increase in Government Inc in our history. It depends on where you butter your bread.

          • brookland_rez

            I guess we’ll see. I’m no economist so I don’t know. I bought low enough that I’m not too worried. It’s fun to sit back and watch it play out though.

          • Citizens United. Lots more money being spent on politics and influencing Congress, and a lot of that money lands here. I don’t know that that’s going to change anytime soon.

          • brookland_rez

            I hope you’re right. I would certainly like to think that prices on houses here will remain elevated, like San Francisco. I think you are right, it’s just incredible to me to think that average home prices in Brookland in the 90’s were like under 100k. I know people here that bought rowhouses for 90k or so back then.

      • houseintherear

        Ah ok, thanks… Appraisal time alone would be a good time-saver.

    • Cool story bro.

  • I think you can find properties for $500,000 and below, but they are not likely to be as completely renovated as the examples were. Brightwood is another neighborhood to consider, at least prior to the redevelopment of the Walter Reed site. And though I am admittedly biased, I do concur that working with a real estate agent can be particularly useful as we hear of things sometimes before they even hit the market. Since the seller almost always pays the agents’ commissions, agents can really help first-time (and other) buyers.

    • I’m doing my current deal without a realtor. I already own in the neighborhood, I know what the comps are, I know the rental potential. I was able to negotiate 3% off immediately by not having an agent etc…

      • I’m assuming you’re having a lawyer handle it all for you? How much would those fees run you? $2K?
        My co-worker’s boyfriend bought/sold his last two places like this. He negotiated with the buyer/seller then cut the final negotiated price by 3% to reflect the fee savings of no agent on his end. He has his family lawyer handle all the documentation. Saved him a shitload of money.

  • It’s even difficult these days to find a renovated house in Petworth for under $750,000. A house on the 3800 block Kansas Av NW (more Columbia Heights neighborhood) just sold for $670,000 and needed a lot of work. Not a gut renovation (it was liveable) but I’d say minimum $50,000 in updates.

    • We looked at this house and it had so much potential. Beautiful street! So many great homes on that block. I’d say it’s more in Columbia Heights, but it depends on who you talk to. You left out that it needed central air though. I’d say $70,000 in rennovations.

      • epric002

        having suffered through previous neighborhood boundary discussions, no one has any idea what neighborhood that is. i guess the upside is you can call it petworth or coheights, depending on which is more advantageous 🙂

    • Which house just sold on 3800 Kansas for $670,000? I’m the buyer’s agent for 3805 Kansas Ave and was curious which house you’re referring to.

    • epric002

      and didn’t it go over $675?

    • We looked at this place (if you’re talking about 3805 Kansas) and loved it, especially since it was so close to a metro (Georgia Ave – which I feel like makes this Petworth, yeah? plus it is north of the metro). The house is liveable right now, but no central air? And I’d eventually want to reno the kitchen and bath? For $620k (and apparently way more than that)? Not on my budget.

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not sure either of those houses listed in the original post are in the area considered Brookland, are they?

    As for development in Brookland, I don’t see that anyone has pointed out the Monroe Street Market development. That’s huge for Brookland.

    Also, as mentioned above, Brookland Pint, Brookland’s Finest and a number of other businesses are coming into the area.

    Brookland has a great rec center, amazing new playground and a new middle school coming in.

    • The two properties are in what most consider the Edgewood neighborhood. The poster said she was looking in Edgewood and Brookland.

  • houseintherear

    I don’t want to sound pompous or simplistic here, but it’s very important to look at *every* property in your price range in every possible place in the city, imo. I bought my 2br/2ba Bloomingdale house in late 2009 and I HATED the neighborhood at the time (really wanted to be in Logan). I paid $269k and it was a complete gut job, but now it’s worth a lot more than twice its purchase price. Be very, very open-minded. VERY. Sadly it’s the only way to get a property in DC now. It’s amazing how neighborhoods can change.

    • I agree to some extent, but it also depends on what you’re comfortable with. You don’t want to be miserable for years waiting for your neighborhood to change (and it might never, for that matter). Life is too short for that. I bought my first house in a very rough area and lived there for about a year and a half before I couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily I had bought a foreclosure so it was worth almost double what I paid for it less than two years later. Now I have a great house in a great neighborhood thanks to the first one, but it was certainly a big gamble on my part.

      • houseintherear

        Very true. In my example, Bloomingdale at the time was not where I wanted to be, but ended up being where I wanted to be but never realized it… won’t be true for all neighborhoods, you’re right. It just helps to have a very open mind.

  • These have sub-$500K listings on redfin. There are other neighborhoods, but I wouldn’t put them on my short list. The (M) means the neighborhood is “relatively” close to a Metro station.

    Eckington (M)
    Congress Heights (M)
    Trinidad (M)
    Michigan Park (M)

    • Er, Woodbridge is in Virginia on the Occuquan River. Woodridge is in NE DC near Brookland.

    • I can almost certain that the homes in Trinidad will be bought buy investors. There are two for sale now on the 1100 block on Montello, directly accross from a home that was listed for 699k and recently closed at 719k. NO way investors are going to leave that money on the table.

    • I’d put River Terrace on your short list. It’s a very quiet neighborhood with considerably lower crime and higher annual income, educational attainment and owner-occupancy than almost any other neighborhood in Ward 7 (or 8, for that matter). And it will have a street car stop with the expansion of the Benning Avenue line. Currently, the U4 bus runs directly from the neighborhood to the Minnesota Ave station (about 1 mile)

  • brookland_rez

    The larger renovated single family homes in Brookland started hitting $800k+ last summer. I believe rowhomes can still be bought for $400k or so.

    • Livable you’re really talking 450-475. And I just saw a livable (not renovated – kitchen is from the 70’s) one about 4 blocks from the metro go under contract a $505k. We’ll see if it appraises.

      • brookland_rez

        That’s pretty high. I know my rowhouse has been going crazy on Zillow lately, like up 100k in the past 6 months.

  • There’s still Brightwood, Brentwood, Bunker Hill, Woodridge, Ft. Totten…and just outside the edge of the city Cottage City and Riverdale…
    We bought our fixer upper house in Petworth for under $400K in 2009, when there were renovated rowhouses going for that much and less. . The move-in ready house two doors down just sold for over $600K. So that is the direction things are moving here. I expect to see more knock-downs and apartments/condo development near the Green line.

  • Who in the what now?! I bought my rowhouse in Brookland proper 3.5 months ago for <450k. I dont have shiny stainless steel appliances and granite…but my house is nice and perfectly functional (and will be for many years to come).

    If you are looking in the sub 500 range…there are houses out there they just won't be fully renovated. I think maybe you might need to adjust some expectations based on neighborhood vs. house finishes.

  • brookland_rez

    Wow, I’m surprised myself that Edgewood homes are fetching that much. I guess the area is blowing up because of all the new restaurants and things opening. When I bought it was cheap, but you still had to go to NW for most shopping and restaurants.
    The OP might try looking in neighborhoods bordering Brookland like Michigan Park or Riggs Park. Might still find some deals in there.

  • Agreed on Takoma and Brightwood. I bought a foreclosure in Takoma for under $300K a little over a year ago. It required a substantial amount of work to fix up, but at the end of the day I ended up with a halfway decent house in a nice neighborhood for ~$325K including the cost of repairs and renovations. Renovated modest size duplexes and rowhouses (3 br, 2 ba, 1100-1200 sq ft not counting basement) in my part of Takoma have been selling in the high $300’s or low $400’s in recent months. Detached single family homes, obviously, are selling for much more. If you’re planning to stick around for at least 10 years or so, the redevelopment of the old Walter Reed Hospital facility will certainly boost values in the area.

  • Brookland has been a popular destination for families since at least the late 80s. The real question is why pices hadn’t hit 600K a lot sooner.

    • i agree. brookland has always been decent in my mind.

      that said, they’re about to get some fantastic new drinking establishments, though colonel brooks was pretty great.

    • brookland_rez

      I think it was the lack of amenities. Brookland has always been decent, but you had to leave the neighborhood for most things.

    • What others said. And also – lack of density (which is also changing). There have to be customers for all of those amenities that make people willing to pay $600k for a house.

      • brookland_rez

        That’s a good point and why I’m in favor of increased density. Just keep it up on 12th St and RI Ave. Maybe that big empty lot on the corner of 13th and RI Ave will finally get developed. I remember when they put that sign up back in 2005, “Hot Enough?”. Every time I go by there I smirk and think “Apparently not.”

        • brookland_rez

          Don’t get me wrong. I want to see it developed. One side of me enjoys the upsides: increased property values. But the other side of me laments the loss of “character” of NE DC. The rough around the edges feel. I don’t want to see all of NE DC look like NW with Potbelly’s and Starbucks on every corner. And the passively aggressive yuppies that come with it….

  • The issue with Michigan Park and Woodridge are that they are in transportation no-man’s land. They need a functional Metro line or trolley within 10 minutes walking distance of most residents, otherwise they will remain car-dependent neighborhoods. If you don’t have the foot traffic, there isn’t much opportunity for ground level retail to take off. Which greatly limits opportunities to increase density. Those areas need A LOT more infrastructure before they will ever become the next Eckington or Brookland. You’ll be waiting a looooooooooong time for that to happen.

    • so is georgetown, burleith, the palisades, kent, pinehurst, spring valley, wesley heights, etc.

      many nice areas of dc are transportation no mans land and it hasnt hurt them.

      • georgetown, burleith, the palisades, spring valley, wesley heights are not complete transportation no-man’s lands! There are tons of luxury cars and SUVs to get folks around. And some buses.

      • LOL at you comparing the most historically wealthy areas of DC over the last 75 years to Michigan Park and Woodridge. We are talking about cheap areas for 1st time home owners to buy into. They need public transport BECAUSE they’re not rich. Duh.

    • These areas aren’t a transportation no-mans land like some might think. You’ve got the H 2/3/4 connecting you with Columbia Heights, the 80 with NoMa/Union Station. Plus now with Cap Bike Share and Car2Go, you can really get everywhere you want in the city quite easily. And if you’re okay hiking 20 min to the metro, then you’re golden.

    • brookland_rez

      Some parts of Michigan Park are just north of the Brookland metro stop. Like 10th and Taylor area. Hardly a transportation no man’s land.

  • My girlfriend and I have bought 4 houses over the past 11 yrs. Strategy is always the same: go to the edge of a sought after area, go out two more blocks, and buy the nicest house you can afford. That was our strategy with our first purchase 11 yrs ago off H Street, NE. Friends/family thought we lost our minds. Fast forward to current state of H Street, now a sought after area. Also, previous poster was right on, don’t focus on one area, look in all areas. 11 years ago we were looking in Dupont and ended up off H Street. We are now looking in Dupont using the equity from H Street house. DC has the strongest economy in the nation with high paying jobs. Anywhere you buy in the district will appreciate relatively quickly; great way to build equity for your next house in your preferred neighborhood.

    • That’s a strong strategy in a upward trending market. I think what people don’t realize, and I know I didn’t for a long time, is that if you’re looking to get in the the ground floor of the next hot neighborhood, you’re most likely not going to be buying in a neighborhood that you’ve heard of. If you think it’s the next hot spot, it’s because you’ve heard people talking about it being the next hot spot. Ship had already sailed at that point.

      Woodridge is great, as many have said, and because there are big detached houses, most of the homes for sale of MORE expensive than what’s for sale in Brookland. Cheap homes in Woodridge, under $500K is going to be tough.

      • brookland_rez

        That, or the current state of the neighborhood scares people off. Like that discussion the other day when someone was insulted that Tommy Wells told them to buy in Deanwood. If you’re trying to buy in the next hot neighborhood, people have to keep an open mind. Most people are sheep though and only want to buy where everyone else is saying is hot. Which is why, like you said, by the time they hear about it it’s too late.
        When I bought in Brookland, a co-worker of mine (who also bought near Seminary Rd in VA at the same time) joked about drive by shootings and such in Brookland (which was never the case, he just assumed in ignorance). Fast forward to today, and he’s underwater on his condo conversion. Needless to say, he’s not laughing now. But I am, all the way to the bank!

  • I admittedly haven’t read all 127 comments so far, but there are certainly houses in Brookland under 500K. Over the past year, I’ve seen several in the 400’s – one on 14th NE rings a bell immediately. I think it sold in the mid-400s last Spring? I actually think most of what I’ve seen in Brookland has been from 400K to low 500s. There are some rare sales in the 600’s, but that is for a fully renovated (gutted) house. Compared to other neighborhoods in DC that are metro accessible, I think Brookland is still one of the cheapest. In any event, I think the main issue in all of DC is that there is no inventory in basically any neighborhood.

  • This is why we’re going to move away in a few years, even though I was born here, grew up here, my family lives here, and my husband and I have jobs we find fulfilling. These prices are absurd. Heaven forbid you want a halfway decent public school… FTS. I am not buying some cramped fixer-upper for 500K+

    Peace, DC.

    • Honest question – where to? You’ll have the same problem in any major city (which is where most of the good jobs are). In fact, compared to NY or SF, DC is pretty affordable.

  • No, it’s not really the time, it’s the additional risk/uncertainty associated with financing the purchase. Financing falls through pretty often.

  • Wow…lots of confusion regarding loan limits. Yes, 417 and 625 are important numbers, but I don’t see them having any effect on real estate prices. Many banks are increasing their appetite for risk, meaning that for some borrowers, it might be easier to get a jumbo loan.

    I own property in Brookland and noticed a SFH on the market last week for $300,000, so they are out there. Of course, the listing didn’t have any pictures of the inside…

    Happy to assist anyone with questions,

  • It is a small neighborhood and houses don’t go on sale that often, but I would look at Pleasant Hill. It’s the area immediately to the NW of CUA’s campus. A 20 minute walk (through the beautiful campus) or a short bus ride from Brookland Metro. There are alot of 3BR/2BA townhomes with basements and sometimes even backyards. They usually go for $350K-$450K fully renovated. It’s a place that often gets overlooked because of its somewhat lack of transport and amenities. But it is a steal in this city.

  • Look at Kingman Park. Houses stay on the market for a bit here, you can walk to metro and the new trolley, and just about everything is under $500K.

  • OP is three years late to the game if she wants a home in NW for under $500k.

  • I’m wondering, people that are paying $500-600 to move to places like Brookland, Edgewood, and Petworth – do you guys do with your kids? If so, what do you do for school? We live in a Condo in Upper Northwest, and while we’d love a bigger place, we don’t want to move to a transitioning area because most of the local schools are HORRIBLE. The Charter schools aren’t that much better. Check out the test scores for Noyse, Garrison, and other schools in the area. It’s really bad, and I think it will take a really long time for them to get any better. Do you all send your kids to private school? If so, how can you afford a private school tuition AND a $3,000 per month mortgage?

    • Charter Schools

      • Sorry but charter schools in and around Edgewood and Brookland are equally crappy. Even dcps says they are low performing.

    • It’s Noyes, I don’t see the need to have a litter of 3-4 kids with 7 billion people on the planet, and private school is affordable for one or two kids on dual high five/low six figure incomes (which seems to describe most of the people spending that amount on a house – or they’re second-time buyers bringing a lot more than 20% to put down).

    • We send our kids to a charter, but is an excellent school and provides an education that we could never get in the suburbs (dual language). There are a lot of fantastic charters doing really innovative things with great results. There are a lot of DCPS schools that overall stats look bad, but if you look at the stats of the very early years, they are getting much better as more people start sending their kids there. Yes, there are some really bad schools and DC has a long way to go to improving the overall education system, but I suggest you do more research on the education options in DC because the hype that they are HORRIBLE is just not the full picture. (Just as the hype that schools in MD and VA are great can be misleading).

      FWIW, we live in Petworth and 95% of the families we know have found a public option (either DCPS or charter) they are happy if not extremely happy with. In fact, we know 3 families that moved in from Montgomery County so they could go to a charter school that offered a program they could not find in MD.

    • Please stay in your condo in NW, and keep the fear-mongering with you. How do you think schools get better? It’s by having concerned and involved parents be actively engaged. That’s what people who move to real neighborhoods like Brookland will have to do. Not just throw up their hands and shelter in place why someone else raises their kids.

    • We go to Powell ES (DCPS).

  • FWIW, we bought last year in Edgewood. It was still within our budget ~$500K, walkable to Metro, on G8 line that goes straight downtown, with a Bikeshare station to get to U st/Shaw in 10 minutes. It’s walkable/bikeable to Rhode Island Row, Bloomingdale, Brookland, Monroe St Market, North Capitol St. developments, and to be developed McMillan site.

    It’s got a lot going for it, and investors seemed to have overlooked the area until a couple years ago. We have no less than 5 homes that seem to be being worked on at any given time.

    To be honest though, we were drawn to the “neighborhoody” feel. The cemeteries keep out most through traffic in the streets.

    • brookland_rez

      You’re right about Edgewood. It’s another one of those undiscovered neighborhoods. It gets a bad rap because of Edgewood Terrace but it really is central to a lot of good things happening.

  • Like most commentators’ advice, we were quite open while looking at neighborhoods in the District as well, and our price point was somewhat liberally around the $500-range. Our strongest criteria was within walking distance to a Metro, which, for us, was a radius of less than a mile. We ended up settling on a lovely town home in Manor Park that leaves us walking to Ft. Totten to easy access downtown, or nearby bus lines on Kansas Avenue/New Hampshire. It’s a great neighborhood, high home-ownership rate, and within walking distance to Kennedy Street NW for when all those great revitalization plans for the corridor come to fruition overnight… joking. But really, look around and don’t get discouraged!

    • brookland_rez

      Kennedy St will come around. Don’t get discouraged. Things don’t happen overnight. Get involved with the community and make it happen.

  • Those houses are both fully renovated, and one has 4br/3.5ba and a very nice sized yard. There are plenty of very nice houses under $500k in Edgewood/Brookland. Your real problem (boohoo) is that you can’t afford marble countertops. No sympathy for you there. Get something without them and add them when you can afford it. You’re better off anyhow – I can’t tell you how many people end up putting five figures into these flips because the new floors/drywall are concealing structural issues, old pipes, or other problems.

    • brookland_rez

      I agree. If you can find a house that is liveable but needs a little work, that is where you’re best off.

  • just wait 3-5 years when everyone who has bought or will buy a condo +/- the last few years goes to sell (life changes, work, kids, etc.), then there will be a massive glut of properties on the market and not the same demand.

    • brookland_rez

      Keep dreaming…..

      • the local economy only grows at a certain clip… certainly not enough to justify this demand.

        • brookland_rez

          Right, but DC is outpacing other jurisdictions in the local economy. People are moving into DC and increasing the economic base at the expense of PG County, Montgomery, Fairfax, etc.

  • There are rowhouses, semi-detached houses and single family houses — all with yards — here in Riggs Park that can be had for way less than $500k. I bought here in 2002, but I have never felt unsafe in this neighborhood — single lady, FYI — whereas when I lived in Petworth with my ex-husband (2007-2011), there was always some criminal something going on.

    As someone else said, stop following the “trends” and look at everything in your price range in the city. That’s how I ended up here and happy in Riggs Park.

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