Good Deal or Not? “Custom finishes throughout” edition

4808 Illinois Avenue Northwest

This house is located at 4808 Illinois Avenue, Northwest. The listing says:

“Your dream home is here! Fully renovated & expanded rowhouse w/ 2300+ sq ft. 4 BR/3.5 BA. Custom finishes throughout. Open floor plan, wide plank h/w floors, custom staircase, granite & SS apps, exp brick, 4 porches incl private deck off master. Lower lvl BR, full BA, rec rm, kitchen, private entrance. Deck, yard & OS pkg. Near metro, shopping & dining!”

You can see more photos here.

This 4 bed/3.5 bath is going for $734,900.

Ed. Note: I’m seriously digging that ceiling.

44 Comment

  • Saw this house last weekend, it’s right by a huge circle that runs off Kansas Ave… Good location and build quality, the staging was also excellent. I think I may have picked a bad time to list now as there is a big inventory of newly renovated houses on the market at the moment. Also I probably should have listed right after I renovated, people seem to like houses that are not lived in… Makes me want to do a new renovation job myself, but only after I manage to sell mine….

  • Went to the open house over the weekend. The smallest bedroom was little hard to visualize how a bed (other than a really, really small one) would fit in that room, and the alcove for the window was really deep, so I hope your current desk fits in that space. It was a nice property though, close to the circle and Illinois is a rather quiet street even during rush hour. There’s no carpet anywhere and I could tell the basement’s tile-like flooring means it will be freezing during the winter time, so I imagine you might have to take out a HELOC for all the area rugs you’ll need.

  • jim_ed

    Seems like its about the going rate for a house of that size in that location. Illinois is well lit and safe at night, save for the marylanders, err, motorists who treat the stretch between Sherman and Kennedy like a a drag strip. Tiny backyard compared to other nearby houses that aren’t on an avenue, if that’s important.

  • Really liked the shot of the exterior, but liked the house less and less with each photo.
    I’ll grudgingly acknowledge that this house isn’t quite as cookie-cutter as the typical flip, given what they’ve done with the living-room ceiling (even though I don’t like it) and the modern/open stairs (which I don’t like either)… but I am really getting tired of exposed brick, and I’m surprised that this developer chose to outfit the house with THREE vessel sinks.
    I particularly disliked the powder room that had a vessel sink AND an exposed-brick wall. 😉
    The combination of the grain in the wood floors and the marbling (or whatever it’s called) in the countertops seemed like competing patterns to me.

    • I have to agree with you on the reno. I think the exterior is fantastic, but hate how all the period character downstairs has been destroyed. I know everyone wants open plan and granite, but I hate how the entire first floor is one big room. I also think the attempt at keeping character by having the open ceiling is ridiculous. I live a couple of blocks away and am planning a big reno of my house in the next year/18 months, and I have a few ideas of what I don’t want to do from this house.

      • Yeah, when I saw that ceiling all I could think of was NOISE. Have fun living there with another person, who might want to watch TV after you’ve gone to bed.

      • “I know everyone wants open plan and granite…”

        Do they? I guess they must, since that what every flipper does these days, but I really, really prefer a first floor that has some defined areas and partitions. And granite? I don’t hate it, but there are lots of other (cheaper) options that look better.

        • I really wonder to what extent people actually “want” open plans and granite, and to what extent they’re channeled into wanting open plans and granite because that’s what the interior design firms/magazines/building supplies stores tell us we should want.
          They have a very vested interest in making us think that certain looks are outdated and other looks are “in”… and the reason that certain looks _become_ outdated is that they’re recognizably associated with a given time period.

          • I think a lot of families like the open floor plan because they can see their kids 24/7, which seems to be the parenting trend de jour.

    • Agree, the rustic floors are a bit much.
      The gray bathroom with the tiny little vanity that doesn’t go to the walls, but doesn’t leave enough space on the sides to be useful (or to even easily sweep out), would drive me crazy. Why not get a cabinet and sinktop that fills that little alcove? I mean, I know why (cost), but really, why?

    • I realized that the reason I particularly hate this exposed brick is that the brick is tan and thus (IMO) not that attractive. I might not want an exposed brick wall in my house, but I can at least acknowledge that a red brick wall is (usually) attractive in and of itself. This brick just looks wan and sickly.

  • It’s a beautiful rowhouse. The finishes are, if not custom then certainly decent. The hole in the ceiling above the living room is kinda odd.

  • brookland_rez

    Petworth row houses are almost to Glover Park prices (Glover Park is the most comparable neighborhood to Petworth west of RCP). I remember in 2006, Glover Park homes were around $800k, and Petworth was $200k. Now Glover Park is still around $800k-$900k, and Petworth $700k-$800k. Seems like the west of RCP advantage has been eroded. Makes sense since Petworth now has most of the amenities of Glover Park, minus the Whole Foods.

    • brookland_rez

      Sorry, Petworth was around $400k in 2006.

    • jim_ed

      I would venture that Petworth’s ample transit options and Glover Park’s dearth of them heavily play into this.

    • From what I recall, reno’d houses in Petworth sold for ~600k in 2006 even though neighborhood amenities were severely lacking at the time. The nationwide housing boom and bust negatively impacted the amount of appreciation Petworth buyers from that era should have experienced.

      • We got our UNrenovated house detached house for lil under $400K back in 2008. There were a lot of renovated rowhouses in the $420 range and you could still find unrenovated rowhouses on sketchier blocks in the high 200s. I mean REALLY unrenovated. Our house came with a rusted clawfoot tub and no plumbing for a shower had ever been installed.

        • I see. 2008 was well into the decline (Case-Shiller peaked in early 2006). I wasn’t in the market at the time, but heard from RE agents and friends who had bought in Petworth that the neighborhood experienced the mid-2000s boom/bust more than most in DC, but also bounced back (with the rest of the city) more quickly than the nationwide housing market.

    • Not sure I follow the neighborhood comparison. The rowhouses might be comparable, but the distance too metro is not. Petworth is more like Cleveland Park or Van Ness, except that Connecticut Ave has denser housing, and when you get a mile from Metro WTOP you will find more detached homes.

    • While I agree that WOTP no longer has the price advantage that it once did, I don’t think Glover Park prices are as low as you say for properties that are truly comparable. And Glover Park is less desirable than other WOTP neighborhoods for a variety of reasons (the area is kind of boring and lacking in character, it feeds into Hardy instead of Deal for middle school, etc.) that make it not a very good comparison overall.

    • One huge difference between Petworth and Glover Park – the schools! Glover Park has some of the best schools in the country, while Petworth’s are average to sub-par. This may not matter to childless couples or those living in group homes, but for us with kids, it makes all the difference. I’d gladly pay an extra $100k (that’s 4 years of private school) for a place in Glover Park for that reason alone.

      • brookland_rez

        These are all good points. I think once the school situation improves in Petworth, it may actually command a premium to Glover Park because of better connectivity.

  • I don’t mind the vessel since in the powder room since that is the only place a sink like that makes sense and isn’t a total pain in the posterior.

    I like the exposed brick but I don’t like that the flipper chose this as the sole thing to keep. It is like they said – well we have this to fulfill our charm quotient and it saves money because no drywall……. Brick can be charming but often time it either looks like they did that in lieu of finishing it because it would cost more money or think that people from buying will think it is quaint.

    I know that row houses are small and open plans mean the space can be used more efficiently with less dead space, but I can’t help feel that no separation between the kitchen and living is going to be a trend that people are going to want to fix when they get tired of it.

  • A little far from the metro for my taste, but looks really nice. Early this summer, it would sell for this. Houses have been sitting at this price since ~Aug 1st.

    • On the plus side, there is fantastic access to the 62/63. If you work downtown, the 63 is a great commuting option, although the 62 only gets you to Petworth station. It also has pretty decent access to the 70 and 79 about 3 1/2 blocks away.

    • It is seriously far from metro. It was a really odd choice to assert otherwise in the ad.

  • There is a great Wardman for sale at 3804 Kansas. Wish I had the money to flip it. Its kinda in Columbia Height, but only two blocks from the new Safeway and Metro closer to 14th. $575,000 or best offer. Needs a little work, but LOVE that style of house.

  • This house has been completely eviscerated of any character thanks to the open floor plan. Such a shame. And the exposed joists in the living room look ridiculous. Nice area though.

    • Yeah, I hate open floor plans in narrow row houses. Reminds me a bowling alley.

    • I agree 100%. I’m a fan of old school architecture. Living room. Separate dining room, and certainly a separate kitchen. Where’s the drama when you’re having a dinner party and it’s time to eat? You move into the next section of the same room – a part you’ve been eyeing the whole time while finishing your (numerous) martinis. No privacy for the host/ess to put finishing touches on the food, and light the candles. Yep, give me pocket doors and a swinging kitchen door. Butler’s Pantry and a butler for that matter.

  • Formerly Broken Jaw

    Three vessel sinks????????????? I’m probably already judging you.

  • Developers do this because it is cheapest, the least amount one can do and still have buyers buy and not just walk away. I highly doubt that most people who are buying these at these prices like this look that much. Mostly they are buying the convenience of move-in readiness, and things they can live with, even if they don’t like them much. A tastefully restored home, with some modernizations, is almost always far preferable to this sort of cheap gut rehab.

    I personally hate exposed brick walls in row houses, vessel sinks, recessed ceiling lights, modern staircases, granite counters, etc., but might buy one of these and make changes over time – because that is what is available to buy now. I’d much rathe buy an unrenovated one and renovated to my taste, but that would take a lot of time and money. Could be done, though, over time, if one wanted to make that time commitment to do so. Problem is, developers buy fast and with cash, so it can be hard to compete with them for the unrenovated home in a neighborhood hot for developer renovation and flipping. I’d prefer to renovate a place in a neighborhood where this isn’t happening yet.

    Interesting to look at the before photos on redfin, from when it sold earlier this year in its pre-renovation state. I’d much rather start with that blank slate. While I like some openness, I also like some walls. The wide archway that existed between the living and dining rooms is preferable, to me, as it delineates the two spaces, and also give your some small walls to place furniture on. I like that the kitchen was enlarged to run across the back of the home, but I would have some separation between the kitchen and dining room – not necessarily full, as when cooking I like to feel some connection to converse with guests (whether there are any children around to keep an eye on or not), but some walls to partially separate rooms from one another are nice.

    It would be interesting to see if a more tasteful renovation would command more in sales price – possibly it wouldn’t.

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