Good Deal or Not? “very livable condition but hasn’t been updated in some time” (reader request)

by Prince Of Petworth March 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm 26 Comments

1759 Harvard Street Northwest

This house is located at 1759 Harvard Street, NW:

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The listing says:

“SO CLOSE TO THE ZOO YOU CAN HEAR THE LIONS ROAR. This MCM home is hidden behind trees set high on a ridge. It features sunny floor-to-ceiling windows in the LR/DR, HW fls, nice yard and carport. House is in very livable condition but hasn’t been updated in some time, However, with some TLC and a loving owner, it can sparkle. This is an estate sold “As Is.”

You can see a virtual tour here.

This 3 bed/2 bath is going for $615,000.

  • $615k for a fixer upper? No photos of the kitchen, bath, or other 2 brs? What gives?

  • I love these houses! They are a bit small, but unique. Feels like a private little village set up on the hill, with great old trees & nice gardens, but close to everything. I’ve no idea about the value, but a very cool house for the right person.

  • Anonymous

    From what was shown it doesn’t look like it’s in terrible shape. In fact, it looks pretty nice.

    The fact that there are no pics of the kitchen, bathrooms and only one bedroom is quite suspicious though. I’d say for that area, the price is probably about right even for a fixer.

    • Anonymous

      I probably have modest standards, never having lived in an uber-rennovated place, but I thought the rooms they did show looked pretty nice. But I too was wondering if there are some major kitchen/bathroom or structural issues that prompted the “as is” caveat.

      • zach

        As-is probably has more to do with it being an estate than anything. My guess is its pretty standard that executors don’t want to haggle on repair costs, so you take it or leave it.

        • Rich

          Having settled two estates and helped others do likewise, I’d imagine that the people who inherited the property don’t live here. Otherwise, they might be more willing to invest. I sold both of my relatives’ places “as is”.

  • ShawGuy

    funny how the virtual tour specifically excludes the kitchen and bathrooms. If I’m going into it knowing that those rooms will have to be redone (as the posting clearly conveys), it’d be nice to at least see the raw space I’d be working with so I could get some idea about what I would need to do, and if it would be functional to live in at all while I was doing the work…

  • Florista

    Like others here, I’d need to see the “as is” parts, which are clearly the kitchen and bathroom(s). Renovation of those alone could jack this price waaaaaaaay up.

    • Nicoli

      I assume this is probably an estate sale and the new owners just don’t want to or don’t have the means to deal with it. I expect it will go above the asking price to an all cash buyer who will put it back on the market in 3 months.

  • TakomaNick

    Homes from the 40s are funny. They very little curb appeal but the they are still quite charming inside. This one actually reminds me of my own in Takoma/Lamond/Three Stars Heights. Mine was less than half the price though.

  • caballero

    A virtual tour. In 2013. I felt dizzy after 10 seconds, and turned it off. I guess I’ll never know what the house looks like.

    • I hate these “virtual tours” that just consist of panning across (or up, or down) still photos.

      Especially in this case, where there were only about 6 photos!

    • Anonymous

      as a webdev i cant stand flash photo galleries. making an easy to use photo gallery is super simple.

  • Anon

    I know this house. The owner passed away a couple of months ago. Quiet area and a great location. Wish I had the cash for it. I would buy it up ‘as-is’ in a heart beat.

  • I lived on that block 20 years ago, a few houses down. The layout is identical … which means the kitchen is quite tiny. The bathroom isn’t the smallest one in the world but it’s not big. It’s a nice block — quiet, and the sun is fabulous. My housemate from that place used to call it a treehouse. And yes, you can hear the zoo animals. Loved that.

    • I was going to say exactly the same thing – I lived in 1713 years ago. I liked it a lot (and still live just a couple of blocks away), but it’s definitely small. There are really only two bedrooms up – they must be calling some other space a bedroom. But the price doesn’t seem out of line for the neighborhood – it’s not a super-duper deal, but smallish townhouses in Mt Pleasant (technically this is still Adams Morgan, but it feels more like part of MtP) are hitting 700-800k pretty routinely, though they’re definitely bigger than these are.

      • MtP

        I currently live down the block and echo everything here. Great houses, but a little small. The 3rd BR is most likely downstairs – it can be a BR or an extra living area. I honestly would make it a den/TV room with a nice big couch and just have the two BR’s upstairs.

  • I also lived there years ago. Due to the layout and the view to the back, the kitchens were teeny, tiny.

  • SR

    I am a Realtor, and another Realtor friend & current clients of mine both went to see the house. They both said it needs to be gutted.

    • saf

      That’s a pretty personal choice though. So many people want modern in an old house skin. They would want to gut such a place.

      Other people want the house to live in as it was designed and built. They would be horrified at the thought of gutting it.

      (I live in a 1926 row house that has NOT been gutted, and I am SO grateful that I was able to buy it before the flippers ruined it.)

      • Rich

        Yeah, a realtor saying “gut it” means something different than a person who might want to invest time living there. Houses from this era tend to have few period details. I’d be more concerned whether you’d need to replace systems and whether the windows and roof are in ok shape.

        The kitchen sounds small and a mix of GI Bill housing layouts and influences like Usonian houses tended to make kitchens from that era particularly small. OTOH, not everyone gives big dinner parties. DC apartments tend to have particularly small kitchens and a lot of people probably can live with that.

        Small bathrooms are one thing but is the plumbing in okay shape? First rate old tubs that can refinished and tile that is servicable might make the baths easy to redo and give the house a little period feel.

        the price seems high, but if the systems are recent and the structure fits together, the other stuff can get worked out, esp. if the buyer has decent cashflow.

    • Ed

      Jason, it doesn’t need gutting. It has great bones. Just needs kitchen and bath upgrades and some patio improvements.

  • WentToOpenHouse

    The kitchen is extrememly small and very outdated. It doesn’t fit a full size oven. The living space is quite small with most of the living space in the bedrooms (which also need updating). The bathroom is very small. In my opinion, this place is not worth the asking price.

  • Ed

    I am the listing agent for this house.

    I appreciated all your comments and observations, most of which were on target.

    And now that it’s under contract (within 7 days I might add), I can tell you that yes, the kitchen and baths need updating, that no, we agents try to show the best features of the property and not the worst, and for those who are interested, it sold with multiple offers, all of which exceeded the asking price by quite a bit.


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