Good Deal or Not? “Tastefully gut renovated” edition (reader request)

108 7th Street Southeast

This house is located at 108 7th Street, Southeast. The listing says:

“In the heart of Capitol Hill next to vibrant Eastern Market! Gorgeous home w/high ceilings & tall windows. Tastefully gut renovated. Living w/gas fireplace, separate dining area. Divine Kitchen features Wolf & Kitchen Aid, eat-in space overlooking back patio thru French Doors. Have your own Winery in Cellar Basement. Large Bdrms w/ample closet space, skylight, sharp Bath, private parking. A germ!”

Ed. Note: The typo at the end made me smile too.

You can see more photos here.

This 3 bed/2.5 bath is going for $1,195,000.

71 Comment

  • Looks like the typical reno job but gosh is it darling from the outside.

  • It’s a very nice little house, but emphasis on the little. I think 1.2 is a significant overshoot, although I’m not super familiar with specifically Eastern Market prices. You can get something very nice this size in Mount Pleasant for under a million–I’m guessing the markets are similar? My guess would be 900k is closer to the right price.

    • KSB

      Strikes me that Eastern Market is still perceived as a bit swankier (closer to the Capitol and all) than Mt. P. I suspect they’ll get close to asking price for this!

      • I think they are about on par. Cap Hill is definitely “swankier” for the DINK set. But once you have kids, Mount Pleasant is more appealing due to the proximately to the private schools and the excellent in-bound DCPS schools. All my friends who owned in Cap Hill sold and left once their first kid hit elementary school age (5 or 6 years old).

        • My understanding was Capitol Hill had several good elementary school options, not sure beyond that though.

        • justinbc

          “Once you have kids” … this is not a concern for many buyers. (Who either don’t want them, can’t have them, or are old enough that their kids are grown and out of the house.)

        • Maybe your friends left, but there are a hell of a lot of parents that chose to stay. You can’t walk half a block without running into a kid these days. I’m starting to see a lot of teenagers now too, indicating some families are staying past elementary.

        • With kids, you could not PAY me to live in Mt. Pleasant. Capitol Hill is very residential and safe for families, with plenty of shopping and dining options. As for schools, this house is zoned for the best (Brent) and Maury is nearby. Middle school is likely Jefferson, which is totally fine. I think this house will sell for asking price.

        • Actually, this house is zoned for Brent, one of the best public schools in the District

      • It’s a lot more conveniently located (not for everyone, of course, but in general).

      • Hmm…I know when I was last looking at rentals, they were about on par–if anything, Mt P was a bit more expensive because it was perceived as more convenient to Dupont/Farragut/Metro Center where so many people work. I wouldn’t be shocked if the rental and real estate markets were very different in this respect, but that seems to imply that home prices in Eastern Market may be a bit overvalued with respect to other desirable neighborhoods with better location…

        • Mt P is very sought-after, very small and turnover is low, i.e., short supply, so rents can be high (though some get lucky). Whereas what passes for “the Hill” these days is a huge area of town. I suspect rentals within a few minutes walk of Eastern Market (similar walkability and transit service as Mt P) will rent for prices similar to Mt P.

        • I think Eastern Market would be more convenient to Metro Center than Mount Pleasant, wouldn’t it? It’s a quick metro ride or a nice walk from here.

    • I live in a much smaller house nearby and it’s worth over $900k (according to Zillow estimates) so this sounds about right.

      • Sorry, but the Zillow estimates are largely meaningless in DC.

        • How so?
          And to give you some perspective– we paid nearly $800k for it four years ago. And no, I don’t think we overpaid because we’d been house-hunting for three years and had a very good idea of the comps.
          At that time half the bars and restaurants on Barracks Row were either vacant buildings or things like run-down dollar stores. I think it’s plausible that the development of the past four years, both in Capitol Hill and nearby neighborhoods, plus the low interest rates, would drive up the sale price of a house like mine by $100k.

          • If you bought it 4 years ago for $800K (and it was “worth” that), its worth more than $900K!!! I’ve seen row house prices on Cap Hill explode in the past two years. Zillow isn’t 100% accurate in DC, but it is far from “largely meaningless.” That’s quite an overstatement.

          • I hope so! Thanks Anonymous. 🙂

          • I’m not questioning your assessment of this house, just that of Zillow for many parts of DC. Capitol Hill is a better established neighborhood than say Shaw or Bloomingdale, so that likely explains the huge discrepancies in estimates and actual prices on houses sold.

          • Forgot to add that your current house is likely worth well north of 900k if you got it as a good deal for 800k four years ago.

        • I imagine this is appropriately priced, but damn if I was looking to spend $1.2 million and this was my option in DC I’d look elsewhere. The brick walls look fake to me, the kitchen is sub par and has a staircase in the middle of it and the bathrooms are blah. Nothing about this says “million dollar home” to me (and yes I know you’re paying for location, but c’mon!).

          • This! I’m looking at real estate right now in the 1-1.5 million price range, and there are so many options that look more appealing. You can get a 4 bedroom detached house in Cleveland Park with a real backyard for 1.3–why on earth would you pay that for this tiny little box in Eastern Market?

          • If we lived in CP my partner and I would each spend an additional hour, if not more, commuting every day. We chose to have a smaller house in a more convenient location because our time and health is more important to us than extra space. You may have different circumstances and values that make CP more appealing, but it’s not like us Hill residents are completely insane for wanting something different.

          • @Caroline–Point taken; of course not everyone wants to live in Cleveland Park. My point was more that there are lots of appealing options in the city for that price–including, presumably, things that are perhaps less ultra-renovated than this, but significantly larger and more personality-posessing in the Hill area.

        • Zillow’s algorithim is heavily dependent on tax assessments. If a property has not sold recently or is otherwised undervalued due to tax office info out of sync with reality (ie date, incorrect info on record), the “Zestimate” is likely to lowball. Plus OTR has a cap on increases for those receiving Homestead. An inferior property on my Hill block recently sold nearly $200K above my Zestimate, but my Zillow figure didn’t budge. Zillow actually has my renovated home at a $25K loss over the past 9 years.

          • So if anything, my house is worth more than $900k? Especially since a lot of my neighbors bought their houses over 30 years ago?

          • ^^ not exactly — Your tax assessments reflect that it’s been updated more recently and the homestead rate readjusts after sales, so you didn’t inherit a lower tax rate. Your 4 year old holding is more likely to be accurate than the longer term holdings if their assessments haven’t been normalized to the more current market rate.

        • Zillow is ridiculous. I just looked my house up on it a couple of days ago. I live in a fully renovated 3 bd 2 bath 1800 sq foot row house in a very hot part of Bloomingdale (very close to Big Bear, Red Hen etc). Zillow says that my house is worth $350k. Bwahahahaha.

          (of course the smaller 2 bed rental in very poor shape next door is $450k according to Zillow)

          Zillow may be right in your case, or close to right, but in large parts of DC and particularly for houses that haven’t sold recently it’s completely off the mark.

  • I honestly don’t know about this one. I know it is lose to Eastern Market and all but still this seems a bit pricey to me but I have no facts to base that one.

    I will say that for a property over a mill I think I would have expected a bit more from the kitchen cabinets. While they don’t look like Home Depot specials, they don’t look like much more than that. I think I would have expected them to look a bit built in for that price. Again that is opinion and not really based in fact. I do understand that these flippers are in the business of making money but that wasn’t so much cabinetry that maybe they could have done something to make it look more high end – take them to the ceiling or put trim molding on the tops.

  • A few questions. Will they be putting a railing around the deck on the front? Why is there a electrical outlet so high up on the wall in the living room? The exposed bricks on the inside look fake?

    • outlet might anticipate a wall-mounted flat screen tv?

      I don’t think this is small–listing says 1716 square feet. That’s actually pretty generous for a 3br house.

      For those talking about schools, I think this neighborhood is probably better for elementary than Mt. Pleasant, but still doesn’t have great middle and high school options. Folks who can afford this house will likely go private or move to Upper NW/suburbs unless they get space at a good charter and the kids can handle the commute to it.

  • Hell to the no! $5k a month mortgage for a three bedroom house. This house in the real world should be on the market for $500k.

  • Very cute and probably appropriately priced but I would love it twice as much if the cabinets went to the ceiling instead of floating.

  • I toured that house with a real estate agent when it was on the market. The first floor had a beautiful mantle and tin ceilings that were in excellent shape. It needed a gut renovation, but they destroyed it nonetheless. It had so much character before and now it looks totally bland. Such a shame!

    • For the love of g-d, can they please stop removing all interior walls in these places? Even a large doorway to frame the kitchen would make it look less like they just stuck some cabinets and a fridge in a hallway.

      • justinbc

        I hate this. I love the concept of rooms, which flippers apparently think are evil.

        • It’s like architects got together and decided that everyone wants to live in a New York City loft. I love loft spaces, but they are better suited for apartments not single family homes.

          • Or maybe people think that when you live in a house that is 20-30 feet wide, having extra walls just further restricts the possible uses of the space. If you want some walls, they are pretty cheap and easy to re-add anyway.

          • I’m not talking solid walls with actual doors separating them. But even an archway demarcating the different uses would visually break up the space without impacting how you could use it.

          • “If you want some walls, they are pretty cheap and easy to re-add anyway.”
            Yeah, but they’re not going to be the wonderful old plaster walls that were originally there.

        • Houses with rooms are becoming rare in Capitol Hill, and I feel really fortunate that we got one. It seemed like for every 10 houses we saw only one would have the original layout. I think at some point the open layout trend will go away and the houses that didn’t get converted will be very valuable.

    • +1 – also toured this house when it was on the market and while it did need major work, they destroyed all the character of this home – just terrible

    • As someone who knew the previous owner and had been inside pre-reno.. this is a HUGE upgrade. I wouldn’t say they destroyed it at all.

      • Obviously it needed a ton of work, and I doubt that anyone who saw it before would argue that the renovation was not necessary, but I think this is an example of people finding it easier and maybe cheaper to tear out original details rather than work around them. Maybe its also a case of trying to take out any hint of personality so it appeals to the greatest number of potential buyers. I won’t claim to know what motivates these flippers. I am just sad that Capitol Hill’s historic district is slowly becoming only skin deep. These old homes often need updating, but there’s so much to appreciate inside old homes, it’s a shame when people throw the baby out with the bathwater. My wife and I seriously considered buying this house pre-reno, but would not have had the cash to make it liveable after purchasing the house, so we had to pass. It was difficult for us to find a home in Capitol Hill that wasn’t either completely falling down or completely renovated into utter blandness. Fortunately, with a bit of patience, we were able to find a well-maintained but unupdated home being sold by an estate. The estate rep. was sentimental about the home and picked us over a developer with a similar offer because he knew we wanted to preserve the home with only necessary udpates. Whether you like old details or not is subjective, but I don’t think there can really be any debate that they certainly don’t make houses like they used to. So for those of us who appreciate those old details, it’s concerning that they are becoming increasingly rare.

  • No legitimate basement, this will struggle to exceed $1M.

  • justinbc

    I love that exterior color, we almost went with a similar one (Go Heels!). I swoon for those French doors too. LOL @ that “basement cellar” though. It’s a hard to beat location, that’s for sure.

    • Funny. Color strikes me as more of a Cape Cod cottage than urban rowhouse. To each his own. Apparently you can operate a full winery in that cellar – not just a wine cellar!

      • justinbc

        One of my favorite things about urban rowhouses is that you can paint them virtually any color and pull it off (provided it’s a good paint job).

  • “A germ!”

  • Fantastic location — really one of the best on the Hill. It’s a quiet block (not through street on 7th south of Independence), yet very close to the Market and much of the best the Hill has to offer. The real question is how much you value this location. The homes skew smallish around here, and the bigger ones go for a much bigger premium. For 1.2 you could probably get a little more house not too far away yet probably in a less optimal but still good location

    • Agreed. I’d spend half this and buy near Stadium Armory, where you can also walk to H street, albeit a bit longer walk. Or you can spend two thirds and end up near Potomac Avenue with a rental basement, and a decent elementary too.

      • I wouldn’t want to go that far — I’m talking about a few blocks in any direction. for 1.2 you could still do well, but probably find a less plum micro- location

      • You’ve heard it before, the #1 rule in real estate is location, locatoin, locatoin. You couldn’t pay me to live in Stadium Armory or Potomac Ave, but would kill for being in Capitol Hill proper (Eastern Market or a few blocks from the Capitol).

        • I live a block from Eastern Market, and used to have a friend who lived on 14th Street NE. Our experiences were like night and day. After she moved to NW she wrote a blog post about the differences between NW and NE, and none of her complaints about NE were valid where I live. Her husband once told me that the blocks get longer when you go further east, and it does seem like to takes extra-long to get anywhere in that part of the Hill.

  • I think this neighborhood is a very divisive area, some love it and other’s don’t see the appeal. My life seldom takes me to that area so for my money, I’d opt for something elsewhere. However, there are plenty of people who would love to live on the Hill. I am sure they will get asking.

  • I love this, but it’s hard to imagine that it’s valued at nearly the name price as this actual gem: (990 Florida Ave.)

    • +1.25 million.
      I’ d also like to point out that this is the way to do “open floorplan”. It’s not a bowling alley — there are still small walls marking the various spaces.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Wow! That’s gorgeous!

  • Re: the Jeff Speck house — you are not comparing apples to apples. I’ve been in that house, and while architecturally appealing, it is not liveable in my opinion. Small rooms, weird angles, etc. As for the Eastern Market listing, it’s a renovated house in Eastern Market — of course it will sell quickly and I have no doubt they will get their asking price. While on the smaller side, there are plenty of people who will pay the premium for a “gut renovation.” And finally — on the comparison of EM to Mt. Pleasant — the prices are not the same. You get more house for your money in Mt. Pleasant (if you can find one for sale) than you do in greater Eastern Market area of Capitol Hill. We’ve looked extensively in both neighborhoods.

    • I was going to say…I would go nuts with all those angles. You would find me on a corner with a straight jacket, within a month. Cool concept though.

  • I knew the previous owner and had been in the house before this renovation. The difference this renovation made is incredible. The house used to be DARK with very little natural light coming in and had no green space in the front which is a nice added touch.

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