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“Is Buying in Eckington a Good Investment/Idea?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm 67 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

I recently got a condominium unit under contract in Eckington (closer to 3rd and Randolph St NE), and with the violence happening on the MBT, and the lack of knowledge I have about Eckington I would like to know what folks view are of Eckington, is it a great buy, what makes it a good neighborhood and any other information people want to share.”

  • Trinidaddy

    Great investment, IMO. Close to downtown core, good housing stock and right near a major exit route out of the city. The MBT violence is very unfortunate but I think it will get better over time. Congrats!

    I bought in Trinidad 6 years ago when things weren’t super great. It got better and continues to.

  • Anonymous

    It depends on how you define “investment.” If you just care about the number that appears on a piece of paper at some point in the future when you go to sell it, I think you’ll do OK. It will go up in value and you won’t be spending money on rent (in that sense, most homes are basically just piggy banks to save your money).
    However, I think there are better places to live from the standpoint of safety, walk-ability, amenities, etc. For example, we are actively looking for a place to buy and my fiancee would NOT feel safe in Eckington. For us, an “investment” in a home is a place where we feel safe, secure in our surroundings, and just generally love our home. We’d rather have a higher quality of life in the near term with a smaller degree of appreciation than hoping for higher QoL at some unknown point in the future and a bigger paper gain.
    It all depends on (1.) how much risk you’re willing to take and (2.) what your near-term priorities are. A young, single person can afford to take certain risks.

    • Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Investment in terms of resale value later, or in terms of up and coming community you want to live in? The answers could vary greatly based on how you define it.

      • OP of Eckington

        @ justinbc: Investment in terms of resale and value down the road.

        • neighbor

          But do you want to live there or are you going to rent it? How long until you would want to sell it?

    • Eckington Resident

      I moved to Eckington DuPont and my life style has changed, but in a lot of positive ways that I didn’t expect. We are a couple minutes from almost all of the places we’d want to frequent (Red Hen for nights out, Thai food, bars, bodegas). I really enjoy having several great spots to choose from that are not too scene-y and don’t require a long wait to be seated. I still walk to work downtown everyday. As a young woman walking alone I have picked out routes that I feel safe in. There are certain blocks I avoid, but that’s true of a lot of neighborhoods in a city. The one downside was getting around at dark when it was snowing — the bus routes are fewer and make less frequent stops. But there’s always taxis/Uber/Lyft and for the money I’m saving/making by living here it’s a small price to pay.

      • Eckington Resident

        (Typo! I meant to write “to Eckington from Dupont”, in case that wasn’t obvious)

  • Anon

    I have absolutely no qualms about recommending Eckington as a place to live – especially if you can afford to invest in a property. JBG is betting big time on the area – Google “JBG Eckington” to see what’s in store in the very near future. Now, whether this development does anything to improve the MBT issues, maybe eventually?

  • neighbor

    (1) As other have said, it depends on what you mean by investment. I wouldn’t expect to see real estate rising over 2% annually for the next five years for both local and national reasons. If you plan on renting, rents are likely to be stagnant or go down slightly because of the massive number of condos coming online.
    (2) As far as the neighborhood goes, it’s fine. I don’t think it will slide back into chaos, but I don’t think it’s particularly nice either. It just doesn’t have the neighborhood-y feel of Bloomingdale, Petworth, or Capitol Hill, and it’s sort of isolated between the rails, RI Ave, and North Capitol. You’re close to a lot of stuff but there’s no sense of community.

    • GBinCH

      Even more apartment building opening up across the city too…rents in DC have been stagnant, or decreasing, in a lot of neighborhoods for years.

      • Leeran

        What? This is not true. It was big news that rents rose at a SLOWER pace this year — they’ve been increasing since 2009 or so with no stop, though.

        DC’s been building a lot, but we’re still not adding housing stock faster than people are moving here.

      • Bdylan89

        Rents have been going up every year. Not sure what you’re reading but nothing has decreased in probably the past 7 years.

      • Eli

        I have a rental unit in Eckingon and rent has increased 50% since I purchased 7 years ago.

    • Bort

      What are you talking about? I’d lived in DC for 15 years (Dupont, Logan) before moving to Eckington a year and a half ago and while I can’t speak for the entirety of the neighborhood, my block (R St.!) has a sense of community out the wazoo. The neighbors know and look out for each other–e.g. we help each other shovel snow, share gardening tips, pass each other a cold one while out doing yardwork, pick up packages left on the stoop before a thief can get to them, etc. Lots of nice folks out here.

      Also, “isolated?” It sounds like you know where Eckington is located on a map, but it doesn’t sound like you’ve ever actually been over here. We’re walkable to H St, Chinatown, Shaw and U Street (if you don’t hate walking I guess), and I bike to my office downtown in 10 – 15 minutes. The NY Ave Metro is a 10 minute walk. The Harris Teeter is a 10 minute walk. Eckington is where it is at.

      • csp

        +1!!!! I am a DC resident of 24 years, in Eckington for the last six, and my block is super neighbor-y and great. Totally love living there, and love my gorgeous Victorian row house!

      • Eckington Resident

        +2!!! definitely agree with csp

        • VABelle

          +3 I thought I would never leave Capitol Hill and H st, but moving here has been all I needed and more. I feel safe and know the neighbors. Our neighborhood is close to metro and downtown without being a traffic cuthrough. I just wish the schools would catch up so I can make this a 10 year house!

          • Bdylan89

            +4 Eckington is amazing, close to metro and bus transportation plus North Capital corridor is blowing up with Pub and the people, Washington Firehouse, and Wicked Bloom all moving in within the last year and a half. Eckington Yards is coming in along with the Foreman Mills shopping center be renovated with a dine in movie theater. I used to live in Columbia Heights and honestly got tired of the same old bars and stagnant scene.

      • EckingtonDoodle

        Word! Its a nice place and it will only get better :-) Love the neighborhood.

      • Eckingtonian

        Cosign. We moved here a few years ago, and I love the community feel of the neighborhood. We know our neighbors and there’s lots going on if you want to get involved with the Civic Association. I also like the fact that it’s self contained–it’s not going to bleed into other neighborhoods. But it’s walkable to RIA/1st Street stuff, Union Market, and the developing strip on North Capitol around Florida, plus H Street and Union Station if you can walk a mile. Lower Eckington has that dumpster fire of an intersection to contend with, but otherwise, it’s just about perfect.

  • Anon

    Shouldn’t these questions have been asked and answered before you went under contract on a property?

    I know sometimes people buy into properties blind when moving under extraneous circumstances but in most cases wouldn’t you do this due diligence prior to signing on the dotted line?

  • anon

    I bought a condo in Eckington in 2006 for $300k and sold it seven months ago for $465k. I thought the values had gone up too much and, while unlikely to drop significantly, were likely to level off. I moved about three miles northeast of Eckington and got a lot more for my money, and think it’s got a lot more upside potential.

    • jdegg

      What neighborhood is three miles NE of Eckington?

      • stacksp


      • Dognonymous

        That neighborhood of “Maryland” is all I got.

      • Anon5

        3 miles = Mt. Rainier and Brentwood, Maryland.

        Brookland is about 1.5 miles from Eckington.

      • stacksp

        I assume Anon meant the NE neighboring DC neighborhood and may not have charted the exact miles as some have done and threw out a guess…

        • stacksp

          Woodridge and or Brookland can fit that bill. Homes in Woodridge are bigger and far cheaper and basically have to traverse a few miles on Rhode Island Ave to be closer to downtown.

  • jim_ed

    Eckington is a fine neighborhood and all, but I’m curious how you decided to pull the trigger on buying a place to live without even a cursory understanding of the neighborhood. How safe you find Eckington is totally relative to your level of comfort. Lots of people find Eckington totally safe, others find it unsafe. As far as value, single family homes in Eckington will show great returns, Condos I’d be a little more concerned about since the part of Eckington closer to N Cap has a lot of developable space for multifamily units.

    • Anon

      There’s a relative dearth of condos in the near-term pipeline in DC-proper, and much of that is aimed at the upper registers. Everything in the Wharf is selling for north of $1,000/sqft, for instance. NoMa is almost exclusively rentals (though there are some condos going up by Union Market). Bush is building a large condo building at/around 50 Florida NE, but I have a feeling that building would only raise OP’s condo value. I wouldn’t worry about an over-supply of condo units in this general area having a detrimental effect on OP’s property anytime soon (ever?).

  • Abby

    I bought in Eckington last summer and we love it. It’s so easy to get to downtown, we’re walkable to restaurants in Noma, Bloomingdale, and Shaw, and we love our neighbors. It’s city living but on a quiet neighborhood street. The most crime we have experienced is package theft (I hope they enjoyed our fridge part!) There is some crime here, but that’s true of most neighborhoods in DC. There are so many houses getting renovated, and so many big developments (Forman Mills, the flower mart, McMillan etc) in the works. Even though some of the developments are far in the future, they will still affect your home value.

    tldr; We love it, think it’s a good investment, and generally feel safe.

  • SeventhStreet

    I think Eckington would be a great financial investment due to its close-in location, proximity to transit, and the fact that prices have been rising all over DC, increasing demand for affordable areas even more. I think in terms of the question of livability for the moment, it’s good to take a closer look at what types of crimes happen and what your level of risk might be. Visit the area at night and see if it feels comfortable to you.

    People also make gross generalizations based on their perceptions that might not have anything to do with reality. The Washington Post published an article a decade ago comparing perceived safety with reality – they found, for example, that Petworth and Dupont Circle had similar levels of violent crime and Petworth had actually far less property crime than Dupont Circle. Check the actual statistics and see what happens on the particular block you’re interested in and on what your walk from the metro would be. Also think about the trajectory of the area you buy into might be and if a lot of planned developments are already on the books – then I think it would be a safe bet.

    • SeventhStreet
    • anon

      hearing people talk about “how safe a neighborhood is” in DC more often than not is just code for “there aren’t as many people who look/behave like me (i.e. a member of a dominant group in this country).” obviously perceptions of safety are all subjective and vary widely based on experiences, and personal and societal prejudice (not based in reality) greatly influence this.

  • LCinDC

    I rent in Logan Circle and walk four blocks to work and just about anywhere I need to go. I have been specifically targeting Eckington for almost a year and just went under contract on a condo there too. I feel very confident in the $ return in the near future (5 years), one reason being the hopeful Eckington Yards project. It’s a small neighborhood and one of the only affordable (IMO) neighborhoods that isn’t too far out from downtown and has several transportation options for the daily commuter. Seems tough to find a 1 bedroom condo for under $350k (without crazy fees) in neighborhoods that are more ideal…I found a unit about 150sf larger than what I was seeing in some NW more desirable areas…definitely giving up a lot in terms of walkable amenities and feeling as safe, but these were sacrifices I was willing to make for the next few years.

    • OP of Eckington

      @LCinDC: I just googled the Eckington Yards project–it seems like the developer is also trying to connect Eckington with the Union Market area?

      Congrats to you for being under contract as well.

  • domrep

    Most of the condos in that area start at a little under 500K, so as far as appreciation, it will be awhile before the OP makes any kind of profit. I don’t know anything about the neighborhood itself, but personally if I’m spending close to half a million on a condo, I might as well move out to the suburbs and get more house for my $.

    • Bdylan89

      Yea except living in the suburbs is the exact opposite. People live in the city for the convenience. If you want convenience most people would be comfortable with less space but be accessible to a lot more amenities.

      • stacksp

        You can do both. Live in the city and get more space in some of the more “suburban” DC neighborhoods

    • LCinDC

      For me it was more of the 1-bedrooms being about $350k in most areas, with Eckington offering more space and prices in the high 200’s. The seller is making a return of almost 30% after just 3 years.

  • DC in DC

    I think it’s a great investment. I wouldn’t walk around the neighborhood late at night on my own, but that’s true of most low traffic neighborhoods in DC (at least for me). I’ve lived in Eckington for about a year and half now, and my fiancee’ has been in the neighborhood for three. There’s definitely crime here, but I don’t think it’s significantly different from what I experienced near H St. NE and in Columbia Heights.

    Eckington has also been consistently rated one of the best investments in the DC area. As has been mentioned, it is close the city center, and there are a lot of different transit options. I bike along the much-maligned MBT often, and can make it to my office in L’Enfant Plaza in 20 minutes.

    Also, as has been mentioned, there is a lot of new investment coming in, including a new park, which, while paid for by the Noma BID, will actually be in Eckington.

  • reality

    I’ve lived in Eckington for 5 years. Perfectly fine neighborhood.

  • Saraineckington

    We love living in this neighborhood. We have refinanced once in the three plus years we’ve lived here and our property value has gone way up. Yes, there has been some activity on the MBT trail in the past week (it was also spring break and there were tons of bored teens last week causing a lot of the problems), but overall the crime in the neighborhood has gone way down.

  • Anony

    Sure it is close in but compared to other DC neighborhoods I think it has less neighborhoody appeal. There will be large development at the Forman Mills lot but not sure what that will look like and how long it will take. Not a horrible place IMO but I might target another area

    • Eckington Resident

      I feel much more plugged in to my community as an Eckington resident than I did living in other parts of the city

  • Bdylan89

    Agree with what over people have said. My fiance and I have lived in Eckington for two years, we bought our house in 2014 and have seen the property appreciate quite a great deal already allowing us to refinance and drop off PMI. I’m not sure what the one poster meant about no sense of community. Eckington has a great community feel and I know a lot of my neighbors and everyone is friendly. People always say hi to you even if they don’t know you, it just has a very friendly vibe. Eckington is also accessible to a lot of things I’d say as much as Petworth or Columbia Heights. We can walk to Bloomingdale in 5 minutes, Shaw in about 20 minutes. The MBT trail is great for running or biking and you can be in Brookland in no time. Union Market in about a 15 minute walk and H Street isn’t much farther. With Eckington Yards coming is plus the dog park they are putting behind it the area is really starting to explode. For a first time home buyer the area does not seem that affordable anymore. Houses are being flipped quite regularly as developers have moved on from NW. The avg flipped house now is selling for around 750k and 500k will get you something needing a total gut job. Point being the area has changed tremendously for the better in the past two years and will only continue to get better. There is the occasional violence but you see that in Columbia Heights and Petworth too. While I think Eckington has already become out of reach for many home buyers, if you can find a good deal I’d jump on it!

    • Formerly ParkViewRes

      Your in a house though. I bought a house in Park View in 2014 as well and have an experience similar to yours. It’s not likely the buyer would see the same appreciation in a condo. I think if you’re willing to stay five years a condo is probably a good investment.

    • Bort

      ^ This guy gets it!

    • Rich

      Sense of community is going to vary a lot depending your building (if its a condo) or your immediate neighborhood. I had wonderful neighbors on my block in Atlanta (in a Petworth-like neighborhood), while people on the next street didn’t know each other at all. My experiences in different condo/coop buildings in DC have been really variable–I lived in 2 buildings that were almost across from each other and the experiences were vastly different. I’ve always been involved in the boards of my building and that does help where a building is cliqueish or not very friendly, otherwise. Some people in condos & coops make an effort to be involved in the surrounding community, most don’t, but that can be a way to get past the social limitations of your building, esp. if there’s a strong neighborhood association.

  • eckster

    Absolutely a good-great investment depending on the details. I bought a row home there 3 years ago an have seen a 50% upside in that short amount of time. It maybe the last neighborhood left to get anything relatively “cheap” that close in to downtown, logan etc.
    While there has been crime, it happens just as much if not more in other areas of the city (ie. Petworth).

    • eckster

      additionally, i believe that any large value added to the neighborhood will come from the south side, near the ny/florida ave intersection.

  • Anon X

    Lived in Eckington for the last 6.5 years. Nearer to the center of bloomingdale than the center of eckington, but I like it and generally have a favorable opinion of most of Eckington. The further you go North and East the less comfortable it gets, but I think that changes soon. I wouldnt say its night and day different from when I moved in. My immediate area is night and day different. Soon, I think the Northern/Eastern side of Eckington will turn the corner – but there’s some embedded trouble there still.

    By and large, you’re going to buy the best place you can afford and you’ll only be able to afford to buy in a certain set of neighborhoods. Eckington is better than many because of its geographic location and about the same as its peers in terms of safety.

    All in all, you’re still safer walking around any part of eckington at any time of day than you are driving in any part of the DC metro area at any time of day.

  • Anon

    hey new neighbor!

    I’ll join the chorus of just closed on a condo after a ton of research on the neighborhood/ values/ planned development plus a number of evenings spent wandering around the area (as a not physically intimidating single woman with my phone out) and still feeling pretty safe. I don’t think it’s going to skyrocket the way Trinidad might in 5-10 years, but my sense is that it’s a pretty solid investment likely to steadily increase as the new buildouts provide more commercial areas and links to the downtown core.
    It’s a terrifying process though and I totally understand the “oh god what did I just buy” feeling.

  • Anon

    I don’t live in Eckington but I live somewhat close by (H st NE). I think it’s a good location and probably only a matter of time before the craziness that is the Bloomingdale RE market starts to spill over north cap in a bigger way. It’s especially convenient if you like to bike – to me, the train tracks, warehouses and lack of storefronts make it feel less walkable than bloomingdale or H st, but I’m sure there are Eckingtonians who disagree (and that may change with new development). And you can walk to the pub and the people – that place rules. Enjoy your new spot!

  • CP

    We live in Eckington (only 2+ years) and love it…I am female and have no problems walking around at night alone. Obviously I don’t do so while talking on my cell phone or flashing large wads of cash or gold…basically, be street smart and observant of your surroundings – same thing I would recommend for everywhere at night. We know our neighbors and watch out for each other, shovel snow etc etc…I do miss some of the amenities we had living in Chinatown, but, everything is close and house values are rising fast. Condo values will likely not rise as much, but it would still be a good investment…

  • Sweetness

    From an investment perspective, you’re a little late. Prices are already high.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I was waiting for somebody to point this out. Large increases in values in the recent past do not guarantee similarly large increases in values in the near future. If anything, they likely suggest the opposite. I don’t think OP is in grave danger of losing money or even failing to gain some appreciation on this purchase, however, the fact that people who bought here in 2009 enjoyed huge returns does not mean that people who buy in 2016 will enjoy similar returns. They might, but it’s far from a sure thing.

      • Anonymous

        Those who bought condos in 2007 are just starting to get out from underwater/break even once all the costs are factored in (3% realtor fee, closing costs, etc). Condos have recovered the slowest. I even see some sales from 2009 that are just starting to break even.
        If you bought 2010-2011, you’re ecstatic right now.

  • quincy

    Eckington is a great neighborhood. As others have noted, there is a terrific sense of community, and a handsome stock of intact, historic houses. It is certainly more “affordable” than most Northwest DC neighborhoods, and it also has proximity to two Metro stops. Several large scale developments (The Gale, Elevation, Eckington Yards, etc.) are possible because of the unique industrial parcels in the area. It’s a neighborhood that keeps getting better, and efforts are underway to try to preserve the historic character before it’s too late.

  • hannah

    Been here for three years and love it. Hope to send my kids to the schools up the hill in Eckington when the time comes – I love the neighborhood and the people. Everyone says hello to everyone else.

  • Eckington Warlord

    Eckington is mine! All mine!!!!! You can’t move here. *muahahaha*

  • Eckingtonian

    Great neighbors, great track at McKinley, great pool/playground at Harry Thomas, great MBT access, easy walk to Bloomingdale, NoMa, Shaw, Edgewood – what’s not to like? I’m a woman and feel comfortable walking alone until 9pm.

    • plotkin

      off topic but, as a fellow woman.. it sucks that. feeling comfortable walking alone until 9pm falls under “what’s not to like.” i’d say 9pm is generally my limit too, in a ton of DC neighborhoods, eckington included. sucks!

  • East Eck

    Ditto to what most are saying here, Eckington is a charming and friendly neighborhood that doesn’t get the credit it deserves! I live closer to 4th and RIA than I do North Cap and Florida, and I feel perfectly safe walking around.

    Take the posts tagged MBT or Eckington with a grain of salt — as with any neighborhood, there’s crime, but it’s also a place where neighbors will welcome you with open arms.

  • JP

    Never buy in a neighborhood with the hopes that it will improve in the future. From my experience, development takes much longer than you will anticipate and dealing with quality of life issues outweigh any modest financial gain in the short term.

    I don’t feel any neighborhood in DC is a good investment at this point. Over the next five years, a market correction is much more likely than any additional appreciation. Interest rates probably won’t go any lower and rental rates/home prices are already unaffordable for the median household.

    My guess is there will be plenty of foreclosures in Eckington, Bloomingdale, Shaw, and Logan Circle after home values come down 10%-25% over the next five years.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s a great investment. May take a little to see a return but I think it will be worth it. For what it is worth. I bought a condo foreclosure on R street in late 2009 for around $375k. Fixed it up slightly and sold it 2 years ago for $575k. I am female. Had no issues walking alone at night and liked the neighborhood. I did avoid MBT at night though.

  • Turk

    Eckington is a great neighborhood depending on what street/block you live on. The best streets are Quincy, R street, and Q streets in that order. Access to NoMa, Bloomingdale, Shaw, and downtown are pluses, but we’ve also got a great playground and pool and access to shopping and multimodal transit. Is it a good real estate investment? Well, I think it depends on the product you buy and your investment horizon. I think fixer upper
    Rowhouse are great investments and will appreciate with sweat equity. New construction condos or flip row homes (especially the pop up) split into condo row homes, I don’t think there is a lot of upside. This is not because the neighborhood won’t get better. This is because the area will experience a huge demographic shift as
    Millenials get older and start having families. There just won’t be the same number of DiNKs buying up 2 bedrooms for nearly 800k in 10 years. They will be looking for housing suitable for families in neighborhoods with good schools.


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