Renovating a home is not for everyone, it is expensive, time consuming, frustrating, but one of the best adventures of your life. If you’re up for this challenge, the journey can be well worth it.
The key is in finding a home that offers the right scope of project for your budget and time constraints and will be a finished product that meets your needs. Aside from the obvious financial benefits of instant equity, renovating a home is also the best way to get exactly what you want.
Finding the right home for you is the first step and there are a wide range of options. But don’t stress, I have that covered! Below, I’ve identified 4 homes that I think offer great potential and are renovation ready!
10 years from now, it’s going to believe that this price ever existed in this neighborhood. The days of non-condo homes selling under $400,000 this close to downtown are very limited. If guaranteed appreciation and a neighborhood full of fun new bars and restaurants isn’t enough, here are a few more features:
- 2 levels and 1,184 sq ft (per tax record)
- Upstairs: 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms, but could easily be reconfigured as 2 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
- “Average” condition, may meet conventional financing guidelines (which means you can get a traditional mortgage)
- Recent $10,000 price reduction
With open floorplans, shiny new appliances, and modern conveniences like central air, it’s no surprise that renovated homes are a hot commodity in the DC real estate market.
The District had the highest number of home flips in the first quarter of 2017, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Unfortunately, some of these homes have expensive hidden issues, where developers or contractors (whether intentionally or unintentionally) cut corners or masked over costly problems that buyers may not detect before purchasing.
Below are my top 10 tips for how to determine if a home is a flip or flop:
1. Check for permits — The DCRA Property Inspections Verification System website is your friend.
2. Check for inspections — inspections are part 2 of the permitting process, certifying that the permitted work was done correctly. The DCRA website (above) may not include 3rd party inspections, ask the seller to provide written documentation.
3. Have a home inspection done — use an inspector who is experienced, and familiar with inspecting renovated homes, ask their opinion of the quality of renovation.
4. Check all major systems — a home that is advertised as “fully renovated” should have all a new HVAC system, roof, and the electric panel should be upgraded to modern capacity.
5. Run all of the water in the house — do the shower floors have the correct slope to drain? Are the drains slow or backing up? Is there water coming out of any drain?
If you’ve ever wondered “What will be the next hot neighborhood?” Or “Which neighborhood will see the next above-average appreciation?” or even “Where can I move to in order to escape crowds/traffic/$8 coffee/(insert annoyance of downtown life)?” You’re not alone!
In this series I’ll highlight lesser known DC neighborhoods that are gaining in popularity and have unique attributes that make them a great place to call home. Yes, many of these neighborhoods are “east of the river,” but don’t worry, you won’t be needing a boat! These neighborhoods are Metro and bridge accessible. Today, I’m focusing on River Terrace.
Location: Northeast DC, Benning Rd to the north, Anacostia River to the west, East Capitol to the South and 295 to the east.
Why it’s great:
- Waterside living without the typical price tag
- Anacostia Riverwalk Trail: Biker’s paradise + So much green space
- 4 mile (off road) bike ride to Nats Park
- 3 miles to Eastern Market
- Neighborliness, strong community vibes: Check out the River Terrace Community Organization
- Kingman Island
As much as I love a good multimillion dollar mcmansion, for many of us that’s a little beyond our purchasing power. In this series I’m taking a look at different types of properties that are listed for $450,000 or less. This week, I’m sharing with you 4 single family homes under $450,000 (3 of them are even under $400,000!).
913 45th Place NE Washington DC 20019 – $379,900 | Deanwood
This one gets a 10/10 for curb appeal and staging, it’s nice to see homes at more modest price points get the attention that they deserve. The size is comparable to many rowhomes in the District, with 1,848 sq ft on 3 levels. Upstairs space is a little tight but the basement is nicely finished and adds extra living space and a full bath. Outside, the backyard is fully fenced and includes a 2 car off street parking pad. Although Deanwood isn’t exactly on buyers hot lists right now, expect this to change over the next few years. Located 0.6 miles to the Minnesota Ave metro this home is positioned very well for future appreciation.
4311 Burns St SE Washington DC 20019 – $424,999
A rare example of a home that has been restored with original details preserved and not renovated to look like every other house on the market right now. Besides the stately foursquare exterior, I love the wood trim, solid wood doors and original features, and the front porch is awesome. The paint colors could be a little bit less bold, but that’s a project that anyone can tackle. The unfinished basement offers room for expansion while providing great storage. Located in Fort Dupont Park with plenty of green space right next door (did you know there are 10 miles of hiking trails there?).
3805 Blaine St NE Washington DC 20019 – $399,900
Another Deanwood winner, newly renovated and even closer to metro. A second full bath would make this one even better, but the design choices are on trend with dark wood floors, white marble counters and neutral colors. A fireplace makeover would make for a great pinterest project! Originally listed at $419,000, this one also had a recent price reduction this week.
2315 Branch Ave SE Washington DC 20020 – $356,000
This one is the fixer upper of the bunch, but I see lots of potential with this Hillcrest home, a wraparound front porch would do wonders for the exterior curb appeal. Besides its location in one of the top neighborhoods in SE, this house is located on a huge* 0.17 acre lot (*for dc standards). The home appears to be in financeable condition and would make for a great project. As a bank owned home that has been on the market for 100+ days chances are good that the price is negotiable.
Looking for more homes under $450,000? See the full list here.
All property photos courtesy of MRIS
Maybe it’s on your commute to or from work, or while waiting in line at the grocery store, you flip through your new matches on the app of your choice, hoping for something that stands out from the rest.
You browse the descriptions but unless the photos look good, no need to read further. Occasionally you come across something that makes your heart beat a little faster and you schedule a time to get better acquainted. Online dating? Or house hunting? Either way, here are a few words of wisdom.
It’s a numbers game
- While some people get lucky and find “the one” on their first shot, in most cases, you’re going to need to explore a few options before you really know what you are looking for.
- Embrace the exploration phase, there’s no rush to make a decision of this magnitude, you’ll learn so much about yourself as you define what matters most
First impressions are important but not the only thing that matters
- Even the best exterior and curb appeal don’t make up for issues inside.
- Aesthetics can be changed. Other things cannot be changed. It won’t be easy but you will benefit from looking beyond the superficial.
If you’re in the market for a home in the DC area, chances are you’re familiar with the dreaded multiple offer situation. With continued low inventory and high demand, with any new well priced listing comes a fairly good chance that there will be other interested buyers considering an offer as well. In multiple offer situations, buyers typically have one chance to submit their highest and best offer. Below are our tips on how to make your offer as “seller friendly” as possible and differentiate your offer from the others a seller might receive:
This one may seem obvious, but starting with a realistic price is essential to staying in the game. Offering a net sales price (sales price minus any seller credits) that is below the list price isn’t generally going to bode well for offer acceptance. Start with a realistic net offer price that is in line with the market value, include any seller credits in the sales price, and consider an escalation clause if you are comfortable going above the list price.
2. Fewer contingencies
Contingencies offer a buyer protection during a home purchase and offer options for negotiation during several key points. While beneficial to a buyer, contingencies represent risk in a seller’s eyes. A seller may perceive a greater risk than actually exists and may value the risk from a monetary perspective as greater than the actual dollar amount. As a buyer try to minimize the contingencies to only what you feel is necessary for your protection.
It’s no secret that we love rooftop decks, and while DC may not be known for its soaring skyscraper views, it does have a few hidden oases high above that offer unique vantage points of our beautiful city. Here are some of our favorites:
Harbour Square: 560 N Street SW, SW/Waterfront
Tucked along the Potomac in SW, you’ll be glad you made the trip when you see the panoramic views of downtown. The water and the monuments are the perfect backdrop for an evening of relaxation, while the serene surroundings make it feel like a true escape from the city.
Potomac Plaza: 2475 Virginia Ave NW, Foggy Bottom
Located in the heart of Foggy Bottom, this coop has a rooftop terrace that overlooks the Potomac and Arlington. Quiet and centrally located, it’s the best of both worlds! What could be better than dinner in the city and a laid back evening above the water?
It’s officially summer in D.C. and as the temperature heats up, so does the rental market. It’s peak moving season when low inventory, rising rents and increased demand can make finding a rental this summer more challenging than ever. Here are some insider tips to consider as you search for your next home:
- Start early — 60 to 90 days before your move date is best. I totally understand, summer is SO busy, but the longer you wait the fewer options you will have, and you will be competing with other prospects who are also feeling a time crunch. Many larger apartment buildings can predict their vacancy well in advance.
- Look offline — many apartment buildings don’t advertise online, which may mean lower prices or lower demand. When you walk around your target neighborhood, look around for management company phone numbers on signs outside of apartment buildings. In my experiences, many of these buildings still don’t advertise online and can offer below market prices or have greater availability than the apartments that are saturating the online search sites.
- Ask around — share with friends and co-workers that you are looking to move, they may know of options that are not yet advertised. Here in D.C. we all understand the struggle of finding a good rental, (particularly in the summer) but everyone knows someone who is moving.
- Longer lease = lower price — A landlord may be willing to accept a reduced rate for an 18-24 month lease since they know there won’t be vacancy early (which can cost them rental income). Be sure to fully understand the terms of the lease and options for vacating early, in case your plans change.
- Go beyond the application — A cover letter, letter of recommendation, income and credit score documents can improve your odds of application acceptance in competitive situations. Many landlords and management companies will perform background checks but the information they obtain may be limited. The better you can convey your “tenant of the year” status to the landlord, the more likely they are to accept your application, particularly when there are multiple applicants.