Good Deal or Not? “million dollar neighborhood for under 600k! you can build up to 40 feet high as well” edition

5 Adams Street Northwest

This house is located at 5 Adams Street, Northwest. The listing says:

“Here is an opportunity to move into million dollar neighborhood for under 600k! This property is perfect for homeowner or investor! The property is zoned R-4 and can be converted into condos or you can build up to 40 feet high as well. Property is being sold as-is.”

You can see more photos here.

This 3 bed/1 full/2 half bath is going for $599,000.

67 Comment

  • Great, now realtors are explicitly encouraging developers to build more popups. I’d be pissed if I were the neighbors.

    • That’s amazing. I wonder if pop-up additions will get cheaper, as more contractors go into that business.
      Also, in the old pop-up vs solar bickering, i wonder if the city or some non-profits could find a way to do some incentives to add solar panels on top of pop-up additions when they’re being built?

      I want an extra floor, and on top of the extra floor, I want a roof deck, some solar panels, and a green house. All of that with a nice view of a top notch public school for my kids, and a landing pad for the Amazon packages dropped off by drones. Oh, and where do I put the hot tub? So we better do some realllly strong underpinning of the foundation when we dig out the basement for a rental unit.

      • OMG. a landing pad for amazon drones. i already had the floor, deck, solar panels and green house. how could i have missed this?

      • “landing pad for Amazon drones.” Hilarious. Thanks for giving me my one chuckle of the day.

    • I had a similar thought re. inciting potential buyers to build a pop-up.

    • I live not too far and this is great. A rundown property is about to be renovated. Hizzah! If it’s split into 2 condos, then that’s even more housing for young families who would want to live in this family-friendly neighborhood, so I’m not sure what the problem is. The aesthetics of these pop ups can be bothersome, but more often than not they look fine, and certainly no worse than the rundown property they are replacing. In an ideal world, these houses would be cheap enough for individuals to buy and then renovated into single family homes, and that’s what a lot of the neighbors here did. But we can’t invent a machine to make it 2004 anymore. I’d love for the city to build 40 story towers of 3 bedroom condos downtown for all these new families that want to live in the city with kids, but apart from lipservice about encouraging families to be able to afford in DC, the only people actually doing anything to help make that happen, and for very selfish reasons, are the “greedy” developers building pop ups.

      • Yeah because popup condos are so affordable…like the $1.3 million one on K and 6th NE. I really have to laugh at those who say condo conversions make neighborhoods more affordable.

        • But the person who buys the $1.3 million dollar condo doesn’t push up the price on a $1 million dollar condo. And the person who buys that doesn’t do the same for an $800k condo. And the person who doesn’t buy that doesn’t buy a $600k place. It’s not that complicated.

          • This isn’t really adding anything useful to the discussion.

          • Actually I think this commenter makes a very good point that is worth considering as part of the debate.

          • What point? That someone who can only spend 800k won’t spend a million? Not much of a point there. Rising prices on “luxury condos” will inevitably push up the prices of other housing (property value) in that same neighborhood, effectively pricing people out. If a house sold for 800k and was subsequently subdivided into 2 properties for 800k each, then you can bet that the next identical house will sell for far more than 800k.

        • Popup condo conversions are inevitably “luxury” condos, which help to push up the price per square foot for the neighborhood. That means that ALL the prices go up, not just those for the exact comps; it ends up being a mutually reinforcing frenzy.
          Splitting single-family houses into condos makes neighborhoods “accessible” only if it’s very early on in the gentrification process. Once a neighborhood acquires a buzz, prices go up very quickly, and pretty soon individual condo conversions are selling for more than entire single-family houses used to sell for.
          You can argue that the luxury condos still cost less than the luxury renovations of complete houses, which is true… but the $625K condo is only “accessible” in relation to the $830K renovated single-family house. When its presence pushes that price of an unrenovated single-family house from, say, $420K to $530K, overall it’s making the neighborhood _less_ accessible, not more accessible. The presence of luxury condos pushes up the price of _everything_, so any increased financial “accessibility” quickly goes away.

          • Alternatively, you could say that once a neighborhood acquires a buzz and 6 people bid on one unrenovated house instead of two condo conversions, prices go up too.

          • THANK YOU. This is what I try to explain to people and I have trouble articulating it well. This is exactly right.

          • Yes, this is a good explanation of how luxury goods, and luxury real estate, work in general. The increased supply factor will still be working in the opposite direction, but the luxury factor (induced demand) will be stronger.

          • oops – Veblen. smarty pants fail 😉

      • Have you looked at the photos? The yard could use some weeding and the siding on the back addition has some rust, but other than that I don’t think this property qualifies as “rundown.”
        Usually when a real estate agent trumpets a property’s potential for conversion into condos, etc., it’s a property that’s in really bad shape. But that’s not the case here, and all I can guess is that the agent wants to convince people that this is a “million-dollar neighborhood” (I don’t know enough about the area to know, but according to some other posters, it’s not) and that $600K is thus a bargain.

      • +1. I live two blocks north and agree. We’ve had two pop-ups on our street and they look fine. Now the properties are well-maintained instead of sitting vacant and falling apart. And to the person who said pop-ups aren’t affordable? These multi-bedroom condos are going for 300-500, which are reasonably affordable for DC.

      • Most of the augments i hear against popups are that they take away family friendly housing. Developers split them into 1-2 bedroom units that are smaller than most families want as they are looking for 3+ bedrooms. Not saying you can’t have a family in a smaller place but in my admittedly limited and anecdotal experience, these popups are not selling to families. Interesting to see someone thinking otherwise, or maybe it is different ideas of the end product and how much space each unit will have.

  • That listing headline is all sorts cringe-worthy.

  • We’re at a very weird point in the NW DC market right now, where it takes $600k to buy a shell, yet it takes $1+mil to get a completely renovated house with solid value… Anything else in-between is generally non-existant, in a bad neighborhood, or hiding severe flaws… Crazy.

    • I don’t think this is a shell. It looks liveable.

      • Yeah — I was expecting from the description (“Get into a million-dollar neighborhood for $600K!”) that the house would be a shell, but it looks to be in decent shape. The kitchen, basement, and front door all look dingy and very 1970s, and my guess is that the house doesn’t have central air, but this doesn’t look like a shell at all.

        • How important is central air to people? We live in a row house and use window units. We save lots of money by only cooling the rooms that we’re in.

          • justinbc

            For people expecting a “million dollar neighborhood” probably pretty important.

          • I have a big compressor with a programmable thermostat, and it is incredibly efficient (total June electric for a 2-story row home was like $70). I can’t imagine it would be cheaper to use window units. No central air was a deal-breaker for me when I was looking.

          • We don’t have central air and go back and forth on whether it would be worth it. We deal just fine so it would be more for resale than our actual needs. In fact, we don’t even have units downstairs only in the bedrooms. However, we do have a huge tree in front so the front of our house is shaded pretty much 100% of the day.

            I pretty much hate retrofitted ductwork so its hard for me to take the plunge.

            I guess if I was spending a million I would care but, otherwise, no.

          • We have 3 window units though mostly only use two. The house stay around 74 even on the hottest days. I would prefer central air, but I having lived with central air my entire life, and now having window units, it was not much of a transition. My electric bills are under $200 in the summer for 1800 sq feet.

          • From a resale point of view, it is HUGE

          • justinbc

            When we were shopping for houses I wouldn’t have even considered one that didn’t have central air, unless it was well below market rate (in DC? hahah), enough to justify me adding in the ductwork after purchase.

        • For the money you could spend over at the Hampshires in Brightwood near to Takoma Park, or in downtown Silver Spring for a pretty much newly renovated house with the same or more square footage and a yard. Having central air is leaps and bounds more efficient than window units I’ve found as well. Many people don’t realize that until they have a system installed 🙂

          $600k puts a huge amount of risk on the buyer if they plan to renovate eventually because the price point is high once you tack on the total cost, it makes the house cost about 800k. Someone spending that much ($800k) usually wouldn’t want to live in a house in that condition when they have other options for a finished home. This price point pretty much pushes regular buyers out of the equation and makes it a flip or rental property guaranteed that will likely be converted into units.

      • I actually love that is has all the original wood molding. I hope if someone renovates it they keep it! The kitchen and basement need work to be ‘modern’ but look completely usable. I’d say this is a good deal.

        • We have the same wood in the house. Our’s is called a Wardman and I believe that this one is too. They are very cool if you can restore them without getting rod of the original wood.

    • Cheap credit. Pull that rug out from underneath and it will all fall to pieces very quickly.
      We’re playing a game of Hot Potato right now. As soon as the potato gets a bit cold, you’re stuck with it.

      • Yep, even though a person has a job now where they can afford it, almost any regular amount of savings can be wiped out in a heartbeat with a layoff, and the cookie factory crumbles!

    • i dunno – i have lived directly across the street from this house for 3 years, and there are actually plenty of popups already on this block, all of which look fine. this isn’t to say there aren’t PLENTY of awful ones around town, but i don’t begrudge the listing for advertising that you can build up. also – definitely not a shell, it’s not in bad shape, i’ve been in there. could be better, but this listing price isn’t so crazy.

      bloomingdale is technically a million dollar neighborhood, there have been million dollar sales.

  • My neighborhood! N. Bloomingdale is the best!

  • justinbc

    Million dollar neighborhood? What?

  • How is this considered a million dollar neighborhood? Of the 10 nearest properties, most are significantly under a million, with the only million-dollar listing being 3600 sq ft. Looking at the last year of sales, I only see 2 $1M+ sales in the area. Most are $600-800k.

    • It still seems high to me. That close to North Capitol is noticeably loud outside and you get a small backyard because of the lots on North Capitol. The house looks livable but still needs probably 100K of work. Seems like there are better deals, even in Bloomingdale, assuming you’re not stretching at $599k already.

    • ok well 2 1mil+ sales are still 2. technically it’s a million dollar neighborhood, then. and i’ve lived in bdale for 5 years!

  • I don’t take issue with the realtor marketing as potential pop-up, their job is to sell the place.

    I do sincerely hope however that a proper live in homeowner snatches this up. Assuming this property is structurally sound, it reminds me A LOT of our house in S. B’dale when we bought it in 2006. We’ve slowly updated it over time and have loved doing so. The advantage of a house like this is you get to keep a lot of the older charm like pocket doors or transom windows while updating it, if you desire. So much more interesting than buying a hollowed out shell with no walls.

  • I’d almost rather buy a shell, because then you know where the cracked beams/joists are! Every problem in this house could be behind drywall. Assuming there are no major structural issues, which is a big assumption, I’d say it’s a decent deal.

  • I suspect in 10 years or so we will look at the short house and be discussing why can’t the raise the roof to match the rest.

    Keep on building up. I am all for it.

    • Yes, why haven’t we seen groups of neighbors buying pop-up floors together, so they match and are cheaper?

      • Because not a lot of people have 100k sitting around?

          • Well, if we’re talking about homeowners, not flippers, they don’t need 110k cash, do they? They need enough equity in their house to take out a loan on it for the improvement. And that, many have.

          • The vast majority of pop-ups are built by developers, not homeowners. (From the way people argue about it on PoPville, I would’ve thought the proportions were more even, but that’s not what the rep from the Office of Planning told my community group’s meeting.)

          • We have somewhere in the neighborhood of $300K in equity in our house. It would be extremely foolhardy to take out anywhere close to that amount. I would even hesitate to borrow $20K against my house unless it was an absolutely necessary repair that I didn’t have cash for otherwise. Borrowing $100-200K against your house for a luxury is probably the dumbest thing you could do.

          • it’s not borrowing for luxury, it’s investing in real estate. we cleaned out our 401K accounts to put a pop-up on our rowhouse. that pop-up is an investment in our future.

          • It is an investment in your future. However, so were all the highly leveraged upgrades in 2006. The belief that prices would always stay high/continue to go up was what caused many to lose their homes in 2007/8
            It’s great that you see it as investment, but investments aren’t without risks. Not everyone is willing to roll the dice with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      • I think you are vastly overestimating the ability of multiple unrelated people to agree upon, let alone plan, execute, and pay for a large project that will be quite disruptive to their homes and bank accounts, at least in the short- to medium- term. I’ve thought about it myself but as much as I love my neighbors I am quite sure it’s am idea that would go nowhere fast.

  • I wonder if the pink toilet sitting exposed in the unfinished basement is the second “half bath?”

  • This is not a shell but does need work. However, since it isn’t a shell they are selling for a not-insubstantial price. Marketing the pop-up prospects means that they really seem to hope for a sale to a developer who can turn over the cash faster tan a sale to the person(s) who might want to buy a fixer-upper.

    Now the question becomes what type of flipper? Putting an extra story and doing the kitchen, bath, floors, and basement and the flipping the entire unit for over mill or one going to turn it into at minimum 2 units? I lean toward the first given the price they want to sell the place for.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure about that. 1322 Monroe NW (Corner of Holmead and Monroe) sold for 582K and that’s getting the pop-up/two unit conversion treatment. 1322 is an end unit, however.

  • Does anyone have an explanation for the listing of houses that have just sold? The Redfin listing for this house says it sold on July 3 for $430, 000. That would be a nice profit for three weeks.

    • Maybe they called one of those “we buy houses” numbers because it was an estate sale and they needed money fast? Who knows.

  • I probably don’t have to state the obvious but it is laughable to call this a million dollar neighborhood!

    • interesting

      • look at zillow. Its trusted by the largest lenders. This doesn’t have to be a guessing game….

        • I guess I don’t have to state the obvious that Zillow is based on tax records which for various reasons can be well off the market rate for quickly changing neighborhoods. A million is a bit much, but 900K is about right for 2 story with basement renovated homes in B’dale.

    • 7 figure sales are increasingly the norm, not the exception, in Bloomingdale.

  • Thanks for mentioning the house at 1322 Monroe NW (Corner of Holmead and Monroe). I was completely taken by surprise by the pop-up happening there. As a corner unit, I guess they had more room to make the pop-up more attractive than others….

  • Looks like they have, or have had, water problems. Not surprised given the slope down into the lower level.

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