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Good Deal or Not? “property is an average quality rowhouse” edition (reader request)

by Prince Of Petworth June 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm 68 Comments

A Street Southeast

This house is located at A Street Southeast and Library Ct SE. The listing says:

“This subject property is an average quality SD rowhouse which was built in 1880 according to the DC Public Record. It is located within the Capitol Hill Historic District and as such has historic significance for the neighborhood. This property has been in the same ownership for maybe decades and has suffered normal wear and tear. The overall condition is rated as poor. Location! Location!”

You can see more photos here.

This 3 bed/1.5 bath is going for $1,000,000.

  • 17thSter

    Yikes. A $1,000,000 fixer-upper. Can’t they remove the books and furniture to at least show a bit of the building?

    • They’re probably the only thing holding it up from collapsing.

    • recon::decon

      The books and furniture are probably also hiding the rats and mice that live here.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure that place is worth a million; it’s quite dilapidated.

  • You’ve gotta be sh**ting me.

    • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Haha. Oh, dear god.

  • Andrei

    I would say that the pictures are also of average quality.

  • So in theory you’re buying the land? But because it has “historic value” (ROFL) you can’t tear it down and use the land? If you get a building condemned, can you then demolish it?

  • CPT_Doom

    So, “Hoarders” just finished their clean up? I know that location is important, but 7 figures for an overgrown lot and a house that looks like it has structural issues?

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic location. A bat-schizz crazy owner/occupant used to shout at me as I walked by it to work every day in the early 2000s.

  • JJ

    That’s average quality??

  • sbc

    They might just be listing it to avoid the blighted property tax rate.

    I think that’s worth a million if it can be knocked down and turned into multiple units. The lot’s certainly big enough for that. But I assume it’s in the historic district and demolition would be unlikely. And it doesn’t seem oriented well for building a more modern structure while preserving the old one.

  • Anonymous

    Weird – can’t seem to find this on google maps streetview. Does anyone know the physical address?

    • recon::decon

      323 A St SE or thereabouts.

      • Anonymous

        Found it, thanks!

    • Anonymous

      326 A St SE

    • Jay

      I think this is 326 A St SE

    • Stacys

      It’s around 323 A St SE

  • Todd

    I think they meant “an average quality crack house.”

  • petworth

    Great location, and it’s a big lot–could easily fit another row house on it if zoning allows. I don’t know about a million, but I always liked this house and thought it had great potential.

  • MRD

    Wow. The house that shows at 324 A Street SE looks different on Google maps street view. The yard looks tended and with the other houses on the street, I could imagine paying $1 MIL for it. Seems like an insane price for such deterioration but it needs to go to someone with insane cash to fix it up.

    • brookland_rez

      Looks like the owner died and the heirs let the yard go. Sometimes these things get tied up in probate for years. That’s probably what happened here.

      • MRD

        I guess someone came and jacked all the rose bushes that were in the front yard.

        The whole place looks like a nice archaeological study

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful! I love what they have done to it to give it a “rustic” look.

    • Anonymous


  • this actually has to be a joke… a MILLION dollars for a building that looks like it’s one sneeze from falling over (if it doesn’t burn down first)??

  • Anonymous

    The value here is the lot size (4,185 square feet). That’s 5 units by-right. Even saving/fixing up the existing structure, being able to add so many units can make this a good deal for a developer.

    Also, it’s being vacant taxed now so nobody is living there. I’m guessing this is a ploy to avoid blighted tax.

  • Anonymous

    “Average quality”? “Normal wear and tear”? Um……no. However, for that location $1million might not be that off-base.

  • Some of those photos are downright creepy. Like a set for a “found footage” horror movie a la Blair Witch Project.

  • Administrator

    Deal. Excellent location. Double wide lot. Tear down.

    • Anonymous

      You’re not tearing down the existing structure. Look at 1229 E St SE in the same historic district and withing the purview of the same self-appointed zealots of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. For (literally) decades, the owners has been trying to raze the vacant, dilapidated, out-of-place building. And for decades CHRS has had their way. Trying to raze this building will be no different.

  • lovessoldier

    Drops mic, walks away from DC!!! Effing Million dollars? Is it on the White House grounds? WTF!!!

  • I pulled the MRIS listing. This is an estate sale and the property listed is at 326 A St SE.
    That being said, if you have a $1M and would like to be in that neighborhood in a move in ready option, I found 14 other options for you.

  • npm

    Looks like it’s 326 A St SE. Proposed 2015 assessment of $814,420; Zillow has it at $866k. Might be a touch high, but with a side yard and in that location, it’s certainly not crazy. Maybe $500,000 or so in construction costs to build something that might sell for close to $2 million?

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think so. y friend’s giant row home in Georgetown is 3 million – no way this would be 2 million on it’s best day.

      • Anonymous

        But as nice and desirable as Gtown might be, this house is practically INSIDE the capitol building. Not sure that’s worth a full million, but it’s worth a lot.

  • ET

    So glad this one is up for sale, but I don’t think this is a good price at all. I suspect it needs A LOT of work because whoever lived (and/or owned) before did not take care of it. I want to say it was a horder type but I could be wrong. I just remember that the outside was totally overgrown in a big way.

    I assume some developer will buy it and turn it into multiple units but this place if done right will look good, and considering what it was before there is a better than average chance it will be better

  • uglybetty

    Here’s why they didn’t list the whole address, but you can figure it out from google maps. 326 A Street SE. This year they finally got caught and were assessed as a vacant building raising their taxes from $4200 per year to $35,000 per year, which they have not paid for the first half of 2014. Trying to unload this dump not that the neighborhood has been blighted by it for years.
    Love the photo of the porch with the broken boards.
    Beware, it won’t be a clean sale with this tax lien.

  • E

    My Aunt lives around the corner from this house. It is in the Historical district I am pretty sure they will make you restore the front of it and most likely will have tons of restrictions on what you can do as far as changing the windows and such. I was there the day they had people moving stuff out of the house there must have been at least 40 wire cages full of wild cats that they got out along with some furniture. No one has lived in it since at least 1999 possibly longer. The front of the building has that stucco looking material on it (it’s not really stucco but I don’t know what it’s called).

    • Oh_Sweet_Thing

      Oh my god, feral cats? This is so creepy.

      Honestly they should tear down the whole thing and sell the lot, probably worth more that way.

    • Anonymous

      Wait, nobody lived there since 1999 yet they pulled out wire cages with live cats?

      • anonymous

        Yes, I live near here. I’ve seen several cats hanging out on the property. I didn’t know they were inside, but it’s clear they were all over the porch. The place is a haunted house from the outside- totally creepy. I’ve always wondered about this place- glad PoP posted something on it today!

        • Anonymous

          Of course there are cats hanging out here. I’m sure the inside is full of delicious mice and rats.

      • PetworthAdam

        LOL. I assume they brought the cages empty.

  • Truxton Thomas

    Were those photos taken as part of a criminal investigation?

  • annonny

    The land makes this worth at least $1M. That being said, if the buyer cant’ tear down the house, it’s probably worth less, in all honesty. Looks like it needs at least another $300K to $500K for total restoration

  • marybindc

    This place has been rotting for decades. Once or twice I’d see an old woman pulling up the trash bin, and figured that I would later find out that she had died in the 1960s and the house was haunted. Whoever buys this will need to add the price of a serious exorcist. Creepy creepy creepy place.

  • xminustdc

    This house is GORGEOUS. Seriously. Looking past how run-down (and disgusting) it is, if someone had the means ($$$$) to restore it, it’d be awesome! That said, the $1M price tag is absurd as it would be a complete gut job– and I’d wager to guess that the other comments are correct about this being a way to get around the blighted property tax rate.

  • Anonymous

    I used to live near this place. Creeped me out to walk by it and I always wondered what was up with it (vacant, abandoned, elderly owner, etc.).

  • Anon

    Average rowhouse vs. “The overall condition is rated as poor?” If the realtor is using such faint praise, it makes me wonder what other problems it might have. And they’re asking $1M and couldn’t even clear out all of the books, junk, overgrown yard? Please. No one with that kind of money to spend wants to deal with such a mess.

  • anonymous

    So, I live near this place. I’m a bit confused. Even if it is in the historical district, not everything can be saved. Is there an expectation that a would-be buyer would have to keep it intact? This place would be perfect for tearing down. I don’t know when people last lived there, but cats have been roaming it for a long time. Broken windows mean the insides of this place have been exposed to the elements. It doesn’t look like it has had water or electricity for a long time. I also wonder why someone would want to keep it (if that is what is meant by offering it at a high price to escape the blighted property tax). Why hold on to this piece of junk? Why would you keep this place as is- it is totally incongruent with the rest of the houses in this neighborhood. What’s the reasoning behind all this if there are owners out there?

    • Anonymous

      your comments are intuitively sensible. however, there is a problem. allowing tear-downs and variances to historic districts for dilapidated properties creates an incentive for owners to “demolish by neglect” instead of maintaining homes they want to tear down and replace. this creates unfortunate situations in some cases but the overall objective of the approach is the right one from a policy perspective.

    • Anonymous

      Who knows why HPRB and CHRS are so gung ho about preserving such blighted, dangerous, and non-contributing buildings. But this would just be another in the long list of structures that had no reason to be preserved that are. If you can figure it out, would you let us know?

      • Anonymous

        i just explained it – if you let developers tear down blighted buildings you are encouraging them to allow buildings to fall into disrepair. it’s called demolition by neglect and there’s no really good option here.

        • dcd

          The “good option” is to severely restrict the power of the preservationists, so that nonsense like this doesn’t happen.

          • textdoc

            Nonsense like this doesn’t happen because of preservationists; it happens because of owners who don’t bother to maintain their properties.

  • Bnon

    POP is the Yellow King?

  • textdoc

    I think this is the most expensive appalling-condition house I’ve ever seen in PoPville. I think the folks speculating that this is a ruse to avoid the “blighted” tax rate are probably right — if you really wanted to sell a house, wouldn’t you at least do something about the overgrown yard??
    The house has deteriorated to the point where it will take major $$ to restore it.

    • anonymous

      Yeah, but why would you keep the house to begin with? What’s the point of holding on to this property? Do they expect that the price will go up eventually even as the house continues to deteriorate. I wonder if independent inspectors have been able to determine whether this thing is even legally liveable or whether you could possibly renovate it…

    • Anonymous

      I guess you people haven’t seen that many properties for sale EOTR. Lots of them are in a similar state of neglect, but enterprising people are able to renovate them easily. And even out there, a property like this would be on the market for around $300-400k.

  • Anonymous

    wtf? normal wear and tear? $1,000,000?

  • Mark

    Looks dirty and dilapidated but, aside from some bad paint and plaster and general clutter/filth, I don’t see major decay. I’m sure it needs rehab but none of the photos show structural failure. No slanting floors, masonry cracks, collapsed ceilings, etc. I’ve rehabbed worse and for a lot less than the $3-$400k people are tossing around as the fix cost.

    • Anonymous

      We’ve been looking at properties around Historic Anacostia, and most of them are in a similar state and on the market for $300-400k (if they’re as big and nice as this one). And believe me, there are enterprising people who are buying them at those prices and renovating them and making a nice profit. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to seek out houses with overgrown yards and peeling paint and contact the owners to see if they’d be interested in selling.

  • jumpingjack

    It’s already under contract. Which baffles me, given the condition (and the cats in cages – ewww!). So curious if someone will be able to tear it down.

    • Anonymous

      the location is fantastic though.

  • GoPetworthGo

    I’m sure this incentive that you point out is true, but it matters who it is being incentivized. If a bad owner desires to tear down a historically designated property so they intentionally let it fall into disrepair, then why not make it so that the bad owner can’t tear it down, but he can sell it to the next guy to tear it down. That way, the bad owner did not get what he wanted. A major point of the blight tax is to make bad owners either fix up or sell. This would better entice someone to buy. You could even put a restriction that the new owner must build a single fam residence if he/she chooses to tear it down, if you wanted to keep developers out.


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