Good Deal or Not? “Self-closing kitchen cabinets” edition (reader request)

411 Delafield Place Northwest

This house is located at 411 Delafield Place, Northwest. The listing says:

“A beautiful renovation. 3 levels of open space. Open floor plan on main level. Gleaming hardwood floors. Top of the line SS appliances. Marble counter top. Self-closing kitchen cabinets. Crown molding. Skylight for natural light. Slate walkway and porch. Nice deck and yard. Enclosed driveway in rear.”

You can see more photos here.

This 4 bed/3.5 bath is going for $639,900.

Ed. Note: The request comes from a split family – the wife thinks it’s too high, the husband thinks it’s spot on. Settle this family dispute!

42 Comment

  • You know what never appreciates in value? Self-closing kitchen cabinets.

    • But you have to consider the societal impact! How much pain and suffering, not to mention lost wages and health care costs, are due to injuries sustained operating manually actuated kitchen cabinets every year?! We need to embrace the future of kitchen cabinetry or else we are doomed.

  • Spot-on, in my opinion — might even be able to get more for it, though I personally think it’s over-renovated for the area. In my mind, there’s a ceiling regardless of how nice the renovations are that I’m willing to pay in a less desirable neighborhood (just personal preference regarding proximity to work and metro and safety as a young woman). However, today, most would disagree with me that Petworth is a less desirable neighborhood, which is why I think that asking price is fine.

    • I agree with you for the most part. I wouldn’t call all of Petworth desirable yet. I live a little south of Sherman circle and it’s sort of night and day as far as walkable access and crime go.
      This reno looks exactly like every single other reno we came across when buying our house two years ago. There’s a formula they use for every house now. This is probably what this house will sell for but two years ago I wasn’t willing to pay $100K less than it is now for this area. No way I’d buy this now. Just my opinion though I’m sure many people would love it.

      • I live nearby. I know this particular street has had several renovations/upgrades just recently. The house two doors down and another right across the street are currently being flipped. And you can see on Redfin that they’re also flipping houses across the alley from this house, on Emerson. Proximity to the metro isn’t a big deal because of the bus lines, and it’s quieter than a lot of the blocks closer to the metro. So as far as blocks go, I guess this one seems pretty desirable.

    • This is barely in Petworth though. What can one walk to from here in less than 10 minutes? At that price I think I’d rather be in Trinidad, Rosedale, or Edgewood (assuming proximity to Metro).

      • In 10 min walk, both circle parks, Rock Creek Church cemetary, Soldiers Home. In 15 min walk, the Upshur strip (Domku, etc). Take a 90 second walk in either direction and you have buslines that get you to both Georgia Petworth metro or FT Totten metro if you dont want to walk it (about 20 min walk to both pending your pace).

      • I know this is a conversation that goes round and round, but I thought the northern border of Petworth was Kennedy Street. That’s .7 miles north of this house. Seems well within the bounds of Petworth to me.

        • Emerson is the northern border when you type in Petworth on google maps…

          • And Wikipedia says it’s Missouri Ave., while Where to Live in DC says it’s Kennedy St. No doubt there are plenty of other threads that have examined this question. But the people in this part of the neighborhood tend not to think that Brightwood starts at Emerson.

  • justinbc

    Price seems reasonable, especially for 4 bedrooms. I disagree that it’s “over renovated”, if anything it’s just one step above basic flip. It’s just enough detail to not be boring.

  • I think it’s a *little* high based on the location. It’s over a mile walk to the Petworth metro. Woah and I just looked up the square footage ( and if that’s correct it is most definitely too high. That is a small Petworth rowhome.

    • justinbc

      Uhhh, yeah, if that sqft is accurate then I change my statement, no way this is close to reasonable. Btw, PoP, any plans to add in a square footage pull to the real estate listings? I always wind up having to look them up elsewhere for basically that one detail.

    • I’d like to know more about the square footage as well. I assume it doesn’t include the basement., but even then that’s small. Zillow sees houses around it on that block all at 996 sqft as well. Zillow also says 4 bd/4ba. So is it 3 or 4 baths? Why does the picture of 4th bedroom in the basement not show a bed? Is it not a legit bedroom?

    • The square footage is definitely not accurate. That house is the same size as all the other houses on that street, and they’re all considerably larger than the square footage listed. Maybe it’s not including the basement.

  • jim_ed

    I think it’s a bit high for how far east it is. A lot of similar homes within a block of it around $550. Personal Opinion – at that price I’d likely go a few blocks north rather than this far east, since its much closer to transit and eventual development. There’s quite a few houses around 8th and 9th and Gallatin/Hamilton/Ingraham in that price range. Including 5202 Illinois, which for whatever reason only seems to be listed on WSD’s website.

  • It’s also made slightly less attractive by the fact that there are frequent shootouts within a block (though this was admittedly a quiet summer) by a crew near NH & Crittenden.

  • Delafield houses are smaller (due to being skinnier) than your average row house. Similar in width to some of those smaller houses in Shaw. The builder did a wonderful job laying out that top floor to fit 3 reasonable bedrooms. Still, none of them are going to be any larger than a dorm room, so someone spending this kind of money is certainly NOT getting anything that could be called a “master bedroom.”

    Average August sale price in this zip code (20011) was something like $530k according to the PoP post a few weeks ago. If you count this one as above average and discount for the size, it should go for about $600. Fantastic kitchen, but go visit the house and you’ll find that downstairs is a lot smaller than it looks in the photos. If someone pays over 6 for this, they’ve got too much money. But, more power to them. I bought a corner lot a block away within the last 2 years, and don’t believe mine’s worth any more than $550 at this time.

    • The average sale price says nothing, in my opinion. Change the mix of flipped and unrenovated houses and you get a different average.

    • I live a few blocks over on Delafield, and the houses don’t seem any different there than the rest of the neighborhood. A house on my block (600) was on the market for near $600, and one of the real estate sites claimed it sold a week ago for $565 and that seemed very similar to this one. I think it’s a bit overpriced, but will go for just south of $600.

  • I have been keeping up with realestate trends in my zip code, 20002, the prices are coming down. People are not willing to pay top dollar for a complete renovation job anymore. They are looking for value, maybe the fever has worn off

    • Fever, along with with parents’ willingness to help with downpayments.

      • Oh, and there’s a MUCH bigger supply out there right now. Many developers flocked to Petworth when there were few renovated projects, but the market now seems to be saturated.

  • The question I keep asking, where are these people getting the money from. My street has been flooded with these thirty somethings paying $600K and up for a condo. When I was that age I was deep in dept, last thing on my mind was owning a house.

    • My guess is that it’s a combination of parent help with the down payment, making the lowest down payment possible, and making some money from the sale of a less-expensive DC property they’ve had for years. For example, my husband and I bought a place in Shaw from a couple who lived there 3 years and made about 150k from the sale even after taking out the agent commissions. (That blows my mind.)

    • DC has one of the highest concentrations of high paying jobs in the country. And some people can make it through grad school with minimal debt.

    • We’re one of “these people.” We’re a dual income household, both have masters’ degrees and no student debt. We rent the basement of our rowhouse and the mortgage is very manageable.

      • My fiance and I just bought and she is 26 and I am 29, both have no debt (well now this house). Personally, I started babysitting when I was 13 and saved every bit I could. I also worked part time jobs during college and babysat on the side during the summers when I wasn’t working hours for internships. Granted, our place didn’t cost 600k and it definitely needs work, but we’re happy with doing a lot of that ourselves. Plus it doesn’t need to all be done tomorrow.

    • I sold my soul to the government, so no student debt and my wife and I both work in professional jobs. Good, but not lawyer / lobbyist good. I never got into deby unnecessarily – saved that for the house. So $600K was very reasonable in my late 20s / early 30s.

    • There are loan options out there that allow for 3% down payments (with PMI). That means if you bank $18K (or take something like a 401k loan), it’ll put your loan payment and insurance right around $3500. For a two-income household, no problem. In this town, lots of 30 somethings make $100K a year, which would put them right on the edge for their loan ratios (<45% Debt-to-income). Once you consider the out-of-pocket costs after the mortgage interest reduction, it becomes a pretty smart move – as it's cheaper than renting..

    • Agree with the posters above. We’re DINKs with grad degrees, good but not crazy-high-paying jobs, and we’re pretty frugal. Gave up living in the latest “it” neighborhoods in favor of saving money, paid off debt early, etc. Didn’t take a dime from our parents, who frankly are nowhere near as well off as we are.
      At today’s interest rates, assuming a healthy down payment, the mortgage on a $600k house costs less than renting most 2br apartments – or even some 1brs.

    • Tech startup. They grew enough to hire various tiers of MBAs above me and stop bathing me in stock, but not enough for me to become a zillionaire, so here I am still in the rat race, but with enough cash to play the DC real estate game. In a way, my liberal arts batchelor’s degree “paid off.”

      What I *should* have done was to switch over to bank stocks in 2008 when it appeared the feds might squish Bank of America like a bug. GE and other blue chips were tanking, as well. I was one of those who thought the whole mess was going to come crashing down.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful reply. It is so easy to make assumptions about people, sometimes the answer is very simple. Hard work, smart choices in handling your money and knowing what is important. I purchased and sold two houses in DC as I worked up to my dream house. Now I own a house that I could never have purchased on my income.

    • No problem. Granted, I was fortunate enough to have support from my parents growing up and in college. Yes, this isn’t necessarily our dream home, but we have a vision for making it that.

    • Don’t forget luck. I know plenty of people who work hard and make good choices – people who are, frankly, smarter and better qualified than I am – and they just haven’t landed a job that enables them to buy a place like this. It’s not a character failing.

      • +1, Eponymous. I would add that many of those who worked hard and made good choices also could have had family financial help – for education, a down payment, or both.

      • No one said it was.

        • But many people who have “made it” act like it was due to their wise decision making rather dumb luck (timing the market) and resources provided by parents in various forms (tuition payments, down payments, hand-me-down cars, etc). No one wants to admit that someone else helped them; that ain’t the ‘Murican way.

        • you forget that we treat the poor like sinners.

  • Yep, often there is the assumption that parents pay for college, or pay some, pay for other things as people are getting started, provide down payments, gifts, etc. As someone who benefited from none of these things, and thus went heavily into debt for college and later professional school, while also working numerous part-time jobs while in school, home ownership was deferred for a long time (til I was 40). Even then, it was only made possible by not doing the work I wanted to do and studied to do, but by doing higher paying work that paid enough to make payments on my student loans, which was way to many hours and a pain in the ass to be at work. We don’t all come from the same place…

  • My advice is to let the house sit on the market for another couple of weeks so that you can negotiate a lower price. It’s a risky proposition in case someone with money swoops in and takes it, but being able to save $40K might be worth it. You could also put in a low-ball bid and see if they take it.

    Best of luck to you both. I bought a place about a year ago and am very happy with my decision even though I may have overpaid a bit.

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