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(Was it a) Good Deal or Not? “cannot believe this” edition (reader request)

by Prince Of Petworth — January 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm 36 Comments

This house is located at 37 Hamilton St, NW:

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The reader writes:

“I emailed a few months ago about posting in the GDoN section of PoPville but the house was already off the market by the time I got the email to you. Would you be able to post to see what others think? The link to the house tour on mouse on house still works. It sold for asking $487,500–still cannot believe this.”

You can see the virtual tour here.

This 3 bed/3 bath sold for $487,500.

  • JDS

    Seriously? A half a mil for that? And the reader is pissing their pants about how great of a deal it was?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Relax JDS. The reader was surprised it went for such a price. Hardly “pissing their pants”.

    • Anonymous

      Half a mil isn’t a whole lot in the world of DC real estate.

    • Anonymous

      umm no

  • dat

    I’m not sure if the reader is saying that the selling price is high or low…

    On a related notice, 539 Shepherd St went on the market after being renovated a few weeks ago for $635k. Above ground square footage is 1376 sf. It was under contract in less than a week.

    Selling prices for renovated homes in the area – especially between roughly Buchanan and the metro, appear to have shot up from the 500k range a couple of years ago to the 600k range now.

    • JS

      I’m currently looking in the area and it seems like renovated houses start at a minium of 625K. It’s pretty frustrating to see the number of houses sold in the past six months that are back on the market at 350K premiums over previous sale prices.

  • Good

    Atleast this house has some character and is done along the lines I mentioned the other day ie: expanding the openings vs knocking the walls down completely.

    A little to far north for me, but when I look at the sales of most properties these days, this seems on track.

  • SawItAgain

    It is a good deal. 1,800 sqft for $487,500 or ~$271 per sqft. Decent layout, looks like little work needs to be done. The walk to the metro at night could be sketchy but overall this is not a bad price.

    (I say this b/c we are looking to move and some places are complete dumps asking upper $500’s per sqft.)

  • Anonymous

    I can’t really comment on the price since I know very little about that area but I have to say that I really liked the layout of the house, it makes very good use of space. And the back yards seemed to go on forever! And just when you thought that the back yard stopped, there was a parking spot behind the fence! The renovation was tastefully done. The only downside for me would be the fact that the basement doesn’t look like a good potential income property because it’s not separate from the rest of the home. But otherwise, this home is lovely! I’m also kinda loving what the neighbors did with their front porch, bright billowing curtains!

  • Funny you should ask this. My wife and I saw this house 2 days after it was listed and were ready to place an offer. We got all the paperwork ready and our agent called the listing agent to find the seller already accepted an offer, and wasn’t taking any backups.

    We ended up getting another house near by, but I’m not sure what the reader is wondering why it’s not a good deal? It was a little more per sq ft for the rest of the area (for gut renovations), but it had some amazing features: exposed brick walls, separate master bathroom, nice sized basement and bonus room, and the backyard was better then just a parking pad. Also the tree-lined portion of Hamilton next to North Capital was beautiful. Very old established trees!

    Had it not been taken in 2 days, I would be the current owner and wouldn’t regret the purchase one bit.

  • Concerned

    This market is starting to feel awfully bubbly. Maybe it is time to cool things off? Perhaps an adjustment to the interest rate (or at least the local mortgage market rates) is in order?

    • m

      I do think the DC market is bubbly, but I also think there was untapped value in a lot of DC real estate that’s now coming onto the market, particularly places within walking distance to a matero. Petworth is a great example of this. House inside the beltway, plenty of space, parking, walking distance to a metro? I think $500k is not too too far out of line with value, considering that that’s an affordable mortgage for a double GS-12 family (assuming 20% down payment). The problem (in part) with the bubble was not just overvaluing property, but making unaffordable loans. I think this house is definitely affordable for the prototypical DC fed couple.

      • Anonymous

        Perhaps. More than the absolute price, it’s really the pace of appreciation that has me concerned. That and the fact that I see a whole lot of houses being bought for 300K, getting 50-100K of superficial upgrades and then going under contract within a week at twice the previous selling price. I think you’re right that a couple of GS-12s can afford a 500K house at today’s interest rates. But at interest rates that are more in line with the historical norm (let’s say 8%), it becomes much more of a stretch. I worry about what will happen when interest rates go up (and they will eventually go up). A gradual slowing now may be better than a crash later.

        As a homeowner, of course, I hope I’m wrong.

        • glen

          Actually, I can say with certainty that a FULL gut on a row house is closer to 150K in labor and materials…depending on the quality of the work, materials and any number of other factors involving waste lines and such.
          Any readers who think you can gut and fully rehab (nicely) a row house for 50-100K is living in the 1980’s

          • Anonymous

            This is actually a great deal. We recently bought in the Petworth neighborhood south of here for about $100K more. It’s very difficult to find a 3 bed, 3 bath total gut renovation that is this well done, with parking, and a yard, near the metro, for anything less than this…

          • Anonymous

            If they bought with a FHA loan, then anyone who purchases this house can purchase it with the rate they secured, so this is really a great benefit. Not sure if that’s how they bought this, but that would make this an even better deal.

  • Anonymous

    Decent deal (not a steal). It’s amazing how fast you can get to U St, Dupont and downtown from this part of town by car and it’s not a bad walk to the metro which is serviced by three lines. The house has a solid layout. I guess what it lacks in neighborhood amenities it makes up for in a super sized row house backyard. I use to date someone who lived in this neighborhood and don’t remember too much blight or loitering. Just avoid that park at night. This is the new normal for a updated 3 bedroom house with transportation options.

  • farragutst

    814 Farragut St NW just went on the market for 619k. How about that? http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/814-Farragut-St-NW-20011/home/10040543

    • Anonymous

      I think that’s probably a bit high, but I really like this house.

  • djdc

    There’s a rehabbed rowhouse at 9th and Webster NW listed at $689k. That shocks me.


    • dat

      I went to the open house of that one a couple weeks ago. Really really nice job on the reno, especially the first floor. I particularly liked how they kept the room separation but made it feel open with the box columns.

      • djdc

        I agree! It looks really nice from the photos. I’ve been watching for an open house — it sounds like I missed it.

        • Anonymous

          This house went under contract after about a week, multiple offers.

      • Anonymous

        this is a beautiful house, only nitpick is the glass patio doors. not that familiar with this part of town but I wouldn’t want glass externally facing doors in DC but that would be easily fixed

  • Idaho Ave

    I live at the 700 block of Hamilton St. Houses on our block and 1 block over are starting to go for $500K plus with little more than fake hard wood floors installed and a fresh coat of paint. I’d say this is about where it should be. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to afford the neighborhood after another year or so.

    • 700 Farragut here. House three doors down just got flipped and sold for $491. Given that, and the tiny back yards on this stretch of 7th, I would actually say this is a terrific deal. This is an EASY walk to FT Totten Metro. Terrific for a commutter to virtually anywhere in the city.

      To the people who mention a bubble. With interest rates where they are at, if you have the down payment (you likely do, if you just sold a house you bought a while ago in the DC area) then you are looking at a mortgage of $1,800, and T+I of another $250 or so.

      $2,050 is very affordable for a two income household, with two working professionals.

      • How?

        Assuming the house costs $491, as in your example, a twenty percent down payment is $98,200. Markets like Petworth and Brightwood are being driven by a lot of first time home buyers. It is very difficult for a two income household earning $150K/year to save 99K when that household is paying monthly rent in this town. I suspect that there are a lot of FHA loans and a lot of second mortgages/liens on these houses, making the monthly payment substantially more.

      • Anony

        “This is an EASY walk to FT Totten Metro.” You crack me up, given it is well over a mile to the metro. Sure maybe it’s flat or a straight shot but it is still far, so quit exaggerating and call it what it is.

        • Anonymous

          it’s actually closer to .5 miles walking through the park at the metro (.6 if you want to be pedantic). Whether that is “easy” or not is open for debate, but the distance is certaintly comparable to most parts of most DC neighborhoods (Capitol Hill, Eckington, Bloomingdale, Shaw, Brookland, etc, etc, etc.

  • I don’t get it. You’ve gutted the house, but you can’t put a dryer vent tube behind the new drywall? How lazy is that? Where else did the contractor take shortcuts due to lack of planning?

  • Hi all,

    I’m the reader who requested the GDON revisited. To add some clarification–I was surprised that the house on my street sold for that much, not pissing my pants over it. =) I had more info in my original request that I sent to POP but didn’t put all the details in this time. I bought 8.5 years ago for just over $300K but have put a lot into my property since then (new roof, electrical, plumbing etc) and most recently a backyard overhaul, which I hope to post photos of soon on popville. I was just curious if people thought it was a good deal for what it was, renovations, location and considering the inventory.

    The metro is close and not as sketchy as everyone makes out and is well lit, but we are far from the most of the amenities that Petworth offers. I frequent 3 Little Pigs a lot because it is only a mile walk from my house and I love that I can walk to it, but wish I had a coffee shop or bar that was a little bit closer.

    I will say, that even though I think the house looks nice, it has a condo feel about it. I like my non open floor plan and the simple renovations I’ve done on the inside (original bathrooms new kitchen on first floor and in basement). Oh and I love that I still have the original wood doors with the crystal door knobs. =)

    Thanks for the comments though, it is interesting to see what everyone thinks.

    • Jesse

      Hi Aimei, I’m your new neighbor! Please come introduce yourself anytime – I think I know which house is yours but I’m sure you know which one is ours 🙂 John Formant, the developer, actually has a 4BR under contract close by on Farragut for $549k, so let’s both cross our fingers he gets asking on that one too.

      Needless to say, I was surprised (and a little scared) when I saw this post but am glad POPville went easy on me. Ideally we would have liked to pay more around $450 for this place. However, we knew someone else would have gladly paid asking if we didn’t (as evidenced above – but glad you were able to find something soon after!). I feel lucky we were able to even knock off $5000 cash towards closing with how wild the market was last year.

      Yes, there aren’t amenities like south Petworth, but after looking for close to a year and seeing over 40 properties we have no regrets. Sure, not as much of upside potential like something on H St or Trinidad today or Bloomingdale years ago, but I feel fortunate we were able to find a home we can grow into within the city. Our other viable options in this price range, which I’m sure other prospective buyers can relate to:

      1) 7-800 SF 2BR condo in U st/ledroit/bloomingdale
      2) 7-800 SF flipped federal rowhomes in “Hill East” (very east), some of which I could touch the sides with my wingspan.
      3) 600ish SF flipped federal rowhomes north of H St, or larger ones that needed a lot of TLC
      4) Homes similar in size to ours in Edgewood, but (in my opinion) much more slapdash renovations and a not so nice walk to RI metro.

      Thanks for the comments, both positive and negative; interesting read and I tend to agree with most of you.

  • Seems hefty, but not unsurprising!

  • aimei

    Jesse, welcome to the block! =) I will definitely stop by and introduce myself. If you haven’t already guessed I’m the one in the end unit. I can give you the low down at least on our side of the street–the residents I knew across the street are no longer there.

  • ijkl

    The proximity to the metro is great (the park path is lit for the commute home but foot taffick goes down after 7pm), for that reason alone it’s a good price (nice renovation helps). Last year maybe it would have gone for 400k, but with another year of low inventories and low interest rates prices are going up. The other end of Petworth (GA ave metro) is probably 100k more expensive for a similar property, half a mile from the metro, reflecting amenities down there and proximity to Col Heights.

  • Anonymous

    I live just a couple of blocks away, just north of Riggs Rd., on 1st St., NE. I can’t speak as to this house, but accessibility to the City and Maryland is fantastic from here. I hope the new development, that’s already in progress, will accomodate a gocery store, diner, and coffeeshop … would trade that over the Walmart anyday. Enjoy your new digs.


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