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Old 10-28-2017, 12:10 PM
 
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We are in the process of relocating for my job in Gaithersburg, MD. For now we are renting an apartment in DT Bethesda while searching to buy house. Both our sons are away at college, and my husband is retired due to his health, so we only have to worry about my commute. Ideally, we would end up in a residential neighborhood, within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and coffee shops, in a very nice neighborhood. So far we have been looking at Bethesda and Chevy Chase, however, I am considering expanding our search into DC, as long as we stay close to the border with MD (to keep my commute reasonable). So far, it seems that property taxes are lower for the DC homes, schools (HSs) are better in Bethesda (this would be a factor for resale value). Budget is $1.5M or below.

Questions:

What are some of the neighborhoods/streets in DC or Chevy Chase, MD that would be best to end up in, from a return on investment perspective, based on the criteria I outlined above (close to shopping, close to MD border for DC)? If so, is there a sense of community in those neighborhoods? Also, which neighborhoods to deprioritize, despite the fact that they are walking distance from shops?

How important is walkability to shopping when is time to sell?

Bethesda seems to be expensive for what you get there, and hard to find a nice home within walking distance from DT. Is that a correct assessment?

What kind of homes sell well in these neighborhoods? I see a lot of homes built in 1920s, 30s, 40s, is age of the home something that turns off buyers? What are some features we should be looking for, with resale in mind? Is a garage important, or lack of one a turn off?

We are looking to buy a house we love, however, I feel it is important to understand the market we are moving into, so we can be mindful of all these things when making our decision.

Thank you.
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Old 10-28-2017, 07:04 PM
 
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Bethesda: walking distance SFH inventory is very tight. Have you considered condos? Many people in your situation (empty nesters @ this price point who want walkability) end up at one of the many luxury Bethesda (or Friendship Heights, if you're a bit older) highrises. There are also some TH options, e.g. https://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/4.../home/10701581

Chevy Chase, MD: few amenities within walking distance. Car-centric.

Chevy Chase, DC: there's basically just the couple of blocks of amenities on Connecticut Ave. (south of the circle, north of Military Rd.). Take a walk around the area and if that's enough for you then this might be a good option.

re: age of the house: in Chevy Chase MD/DC it's absolutely an asset to have a pre-war house. In Bethesda? The value's in the land; most any house 60+ years old is seen as a teardown opportunity for a new build.

Have you considered Rockville/Gaithersburg at all? Downtown Crown might be a good option, considering your job location. It's obviously not as large as downtown Bethesda and not as grand as Chevy Chase, but it's a walkable area where your money would go further. Walking distance to downtown Rockville has some nice, historic houses, too. You'd be focusing on west of downtown, in that case (unfortunately, there's currently minimal available housing stock). East of downtown is more working class/below your budget.
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:19 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAVC View Post
Ideally, we would end up in a residential neighborhood, within walking distance to restaurants, shopping, and coffee shops, in a very nice neighborhood.
I hope you would consider options other than Bethesda and Chevy Chase. I'd suggest the beautiful neo-urban developments at Kentlands and King Farm. The historic part of Rockville is good also. All are closer to your job in Gaithersburg, and offer more value for your dollar. The advantage of Kentlands is that it has newly-built homes within the clustered development of an older town. It is somewhat walkable and very safe. The prior poster also mention Crown Farm in Gaithersburg which has high-end "city homes" like these: http://www.choicerealestate.net/crow.../over-1000000/

I think walkability is most desirable to 20-somethings with a limited budget. I believe it is much less of a requirement in a miliion-dollar budget.

My other argument against Chevy Chase is the age of the homes. As you have seen, many are built before the 50's. Are you and your husband prepared to take on a renovation project and constant maintenance? The best resale value would be for a home that has completely renovated systems, kitchens and baths. IDK if that's available for your budget.

Regarding resale value in Bethesda, it seems to be all about the rating of the high-schools, not walkability. Please search for prior discussions on the best high schools: Wooton, Walt Whitman and Walter Johnson, etc.

Last edited by goldenage1; 10-29-2017 at 07:17 AM..
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Old 10-29-2017, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bufflove View Post
Bethesda: walking distance SFH inventory is very tight. Have you considered condos? Many people in your situation (empty nesters @ this price point who want walkability) end up at one of the many luxury Bethesda (or Friendship Heights, if you're a bit older) highrises. There are also some TH options, e.g. https://www.redfin.com/MD/Bethesda/4.../home/10701581

Chevy Chase, MD: few amenities within walking distance. Car-centric.

Chevy Chase, DC: there's basically just the couple of blocks of amenities on Connecticut Ave. (south of the circle, north of Military Rd.). Take a walk around the area and if that's enough for you then this might be a good option.

re: age of the house: in Chevy Chase MD/DC it's absolutely an asset to have a pre-war house. In Bethesda? The value's in the land; most any house 60+ years old is seen as a teardown opportunity for a new build.

Have you considered Rockville/Gaithersburg at all? Downtown Crown might be a good option, considering your job location. It's obviously not as large as downtown Bethesda and not as grand as Chevy Chase, but it's a walkable area where your money would go further. Walking distance to downtown Rockville has some nice, historic houses, too. You'd be focusing on west of downtown, in that case (unfortunately, there's currently minimal available housing stock). East of downtown is more working class/below your budget.
We looked at condos, however, I do not like the idea of condo fees of $0.70 to $1 per sq. ft. One can easily pay $1,200/mo in condo fees, that will go up year over year, without getting much in return for that expense. Plus, for our budget you can't get a spacious condo, and when the boys come home we would feel crowded.

I drove on Wisconsin Ave. one day and loved the vibe there. I am thinking of targeting that area, either on the MD or DC side. Did not like the feel of Crown...

Thank you for your feedback on the pre-war homes, very helpful.
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Old 10-29-2017, 10:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldenage1 View Post
I hope you would consider options other than Bethesda and Chevy Chase. I'd suggest the beautiful neo-urban developments at Kentlands and King Farm.

The best resale value would be for a home that has completely renovated systems, kitchens and baths. IDK if that's available for your budget.
I do not like the feel of the new-urban developments as much as I like DT Bethesda or the area around Wisconsin Ave. for CC.

There are pre-war homes that have been renovated in our price range, we just need to find the one.

Thank you for your help.
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Old 10-29-2017, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,448 posts, read 20,438,902 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAVC View Post
I do not like the feel of the new-urban developments as much as I like DT Bethesda or the area around Wisconsin Ave. for CC.

There are pre-war homes that have been renovated in our price range, we just need to find the one.
OK- tastes differ. You might use Redfin.com as a search engine. You can search on elementary schools such as Bethesda Elementary and Somerset Elementary, and your price range. These will target homes along Wisconsin Avenue, Bradley Blvd. etc. There is new construction on Glenbrook Parkway and Chase Avenue. Good luck with the search.
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Old 10-29-2017, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,448 posts, read 20,438,902 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAVC View Post
What are some of the neighborhoods/streets in DC or Chevy Chase, MD that would be best to end up in, from a return on investment perspective, based on the criteria I outlined above (close to shopping, close to MD border for DC)? If so, is there a sense of community in those neighborhoods? Also, which neighborhoods to deprioritize, despite the fact that they are walking distance from shops?
I suggest using a buyer broker to address the question of future resale value. It is far outside my area of expertise. The "sense of community" is also not something I can address. However, I will give a few suggestion as a long-time resident and commuter in Montgomery County and the District. I would prioritize Maryland over the District for future resale value. DC has a couple permanent handicaps: the schools and the lack of Congressional representation. However, I think the Friendship Heights area and Chevy Chase, DC are worth looking at.

There are serious problems with traffic and parking in many of the areas you would look at. I would avoid homes close to Reno Road in DC, Western Blvd or Bradley Blvd., as they are commuter routes. Given the noise level of commuter traffic, I would avoid anything close to Wisconsin or Connecticut. Please also check out the parking available on the weekends as the shops and restaurants attact people who do not live in the area.

I suggest looking for a house with a garage, but make sure it is large enough for a modern car. At least make sure the house has off-street parking or that there is adequate on-street parking.
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Old 10-30-2017, 05:10 AM
 
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At this point much if not most of the pre-war housing stock in Chevy Chase will have been substantially remodelled with the latest systems and electricity and plumbing, and most of it to high specifications that are in many cases much better quality than the specs of a new build further out in Montgomery County where builder grade rules the day. And there are plenty of new housing in Chevy Chase MD, replacing teardowns.

Chevy Chase versus Gaithersburg or Rockville is a lifestyle difference. It's not just the housing or location but people and their expectations and attitudes. Two very different places. Chevy Chase and Bethesda have a strong overlap. If you settle in Rockville or Gaithersburg or anywhere out there, you will infrequently come into DC, DC and its amenities - cultural, dining, recreational - will not be on your radar any more than most out of towners coming in for a vacation. Folks in CC and Bethesda are much more tied to the District and much more likely to take advantage of the District's resources.

Housing appreciation has been strongest in the closer in DC suburbs and DC itself rather than the outer suburbs. If looking at retaining housing value then you cannot get better than CC or Bethesda for the suburbs (North Arlington and McLean in Virginia are the other comparable area), as well as NW DC for the city. Location drives the housing game. You are older, but the up and coming young generation with money are all about being as close the District or living in the District. Bethesda and CC, with their top rated schools and proximity to the District, offer this sweet spot that guarantees they will always be highly desirable and will suffer the least from any negative swings in the housing markets.
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Old 10-30-2017, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,448 posts, read 20,438,902 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAVC View Post
...What kind of homes sell well in these neighborhoods?...
A buyer broker would be good to consult, and the following is just my impression. Tastes are fairly traditional. Look for a house that fits well in its neighborhood. Brick or stone Federal or a Victorian with a porch would be popular. A Tudor might work as long as it is not too dark inside. I suggest avoiding anything that seems out-of-place, such as a Spanish-style or contemporary. The mid-century modern is not as much appreciated as it is elsewhere and they are often seen as tear-downs. A Craftsman that needs a face-lift could be a good choice for appreciation.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:43 AM
 
388 posts, read 1,418,603 times
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Originally Posted by Tallybalt View Post
Chevy Chase versus Gaithersburg or Rockville is a lifestyle difference. It's not just the housing or location but people and their expectations and attitudes. Two very different places. Chevy Chase and Bethesda have a strong overlap. If you settle in Rockville or Gaithersburg or anywhere out there, you will infrequently come into DC, DC and its amenities - cultural, dining, recreational - will not be on your radar any more than most out of towners coming in for a vacation. Folks in CC and Bethesda are much more tied to the District and much more likely to take advantage of the District's resources.
Well said, thank you. I am looking for the lifestyle, the environment that these communities offer. At this point in our lives I would like to enjoy our hard-earned money, therefore our goal is not to find a community where we can get more for our money, but to find that sense of freedom to walk to places and do things on the spur of the moment. Still want to spend wisely, however, it is important to us to buy in one of these communities in a house that is right for us, and will also be a good investment in the long run.
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