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Old 09-26-2015, 04:23 PM
 
Location: North Carolina for now....ATL soon.
1,233 posts, read 1,132,310 times
Reputation: 1303

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Hi all,

I'm from Atlanta, but have been helping a childhood friend look for a new home via internet listings, and making phone calls to realtors for her; she's a single mom and quite busy.

I know in general that DC is a large metropolis, and of course, with all the conveniences, there will be pricey homes, but I don't think I was prepared for what I've seen. I mean, where do I start? First off, can anyone explain the residential home esthetic to me? Everything in DC proper looks VERY OLD. Like, almost run down. Even in what's considered a "nice area." I'm just not sure what I was expecting exactly. I've been to DC to visit her a few times, but I must have forgotten the landscape. Even when I go to NYC, they're tearing down entire buildings to put up brand new, luxury apartment buildings. I just fail to see more new real estate in DC. Maybe it's a space issue, I'm not sure. Then again, I'm used to Atlanta, where we have 5x the space of DC, and every time I turn around some big time developer is throwing some new, swanky, hip apartment building or condos up. Heck, The Palms hotel and casino just put in a bid to build a new casino downtown. But I know up north is more dense, with less space so I guess that's the difference.

Why aren't developers coming into neighborhoods in DC and totally gentrifying a whole neighborhood, instead of buying 2 or 3 houses on the block, which leaves you with old and new mixed?? Then once they do buy one, they renovate it and flip it for an ASTRONOMICAL, RIDICULOUS price! I'm so confused. I just don't know how the average person with a family affords to buy there.

I suggested to my friend that maybe she should just buy a fixer-upper, and renovate it to her liking; then maybe she can save some money. Well, first of all, when she DOES find a fixer-upper in a fairly good community, she's competing with investors who have cash on hand, and will always win if the property comes to a bidding war. And let me just say: At some point, they all seem to get that point!! I'm so serious right now. Like, two days ago, I called her and told her to text her real estate agent STAT on a property that was in her desire area, and in her price range. By the time the agent called about the property and got back to her, the status had changed to PENDING!! What?! Wow, it's red hot up there in DC, clearly.

Anywho, I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to better navigate this process. She's an attorney and makes $130k per year, and her budget is $425K. She's been approved for an FHA loan, and wants 3 bdrm and 1.5 to 2 baths with a basement and small yard (she has twin boys). Her target areas are these:

Michigan Park
North Michigan Park
Riggs Park-Ft. Totten
Ft. Lincoln
Atlas
Woodridge
Queens Chapel
Brookland (In her price range, even the fixers are over $400k)
Trinidad (MAYBE. As she said this is "up and coming.")

If there are any other nice, safe areas that would fit into this budget that you guys know of in DC proper, I really appreciate it in advance. She's is totally against moving out to Virginia, because she said the traffic is a NIGHTMARE! And according to her, DC has better schools than Maryland, so that's out. Thanks!
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:42 PM
 
52 posts, read 118,542 times
Reputation: 63
Brookland is nice. Woodridge is also coming along. If she buys in Trinidad, she will have to wait a few years and deal with a good amount of crime. In the long run though, she will make money in Trinidad since it's a few years behind Woodridge.

If Atlas is where I think it is (MD Ave. and Bladensburg Rd.) you can skip that. Until they demolish Langston Terrace that is.

Unsure about the other neighborhoods.

regards
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Old 09-26-2015, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
12,406 posts, read 21,997,429 times
Reputation: 18894
She may have to "buck up" and realize that she can't afford to live in the areas she would like.
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:02 PM
 
Location: DC
2,044 posts, read 2,480,280 times
Reputation: 1792
Swanky apartments are going up like crazy all over DC. The gentrification is pretty intense. You must have missed it or were blind. But considering the neighborhoods you listed, I am not surprised. They are mostly the older more run down ones with the exception of brookland.

$425k is not likely to happen anymore for a 3 BR home west of the river no matter the area.
Also DC does not have better schools than maryland, at least not Montgomery County. She doesn't know what she is talking about there. She is NOT going to get in a decent neighborhood with good schools in DC for her budget if she is looking for a row home. Sorry...it is simply out of her budget. I am not sad to be the bearer of bad news. She MAY get into a small home that requires renovation in Brightwood or Ft. Totten.

DC is expensive, and honestly being from Atlanta you are not the best person to be giving advice. It's a totally diferent city, if not radically different.

Also the reason why the neighborhoods you listed look run down and older is because many of them are not the best neighborhoods. Some are gentrifying. New buildings are going up like crazy in DC, but they are apartment buildings and offices, not condos or SFH.

Brookland is completely out of her budget for example. Homes that size start at $500k and it gets into serious bidding war.

She will need to look into further out in Montgomery County, especially with the kids. The schools are better there anyway.

Michigan Park - Out of her budget
North Michigan Park - Out of her Budget
Riggs Park-Ft. Totten - She may be able to find something
Ft. Lincoln - In her budget, maybe unsafe, bad public transit access, not very good schools
Atlas - H St. is out of her budget, likewise no place for somebody with kids.
Woodridge - Maybe, if she is lucky. Terrible Public Transit Access.
Queens Chapel - Maybe if she is lucky. Again schools.
Brookland (In her price range, even the fixers are over $400k) - Way out of her budget, bidding wars
Trinidad (MAYBE. As she said this is "up and coming.") - Dangerous and terrible school. No place with somebody with kids.

None of the schools in this area are very good with the exception of Brookland.
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Old 09-26-2015, 05:39 PM
 
Location: North Carolina for now....ATL soon.
1,233 posts, read 1,132,310 times
Reputation: 1303
Quote:
Originally Posted by DistrictSonic View Post
Swanky apartments are going up like crazy all over DC. The gentrification is pretty intense. You must have missed it or were blind. But considering the neighborhoods you listed, I am not surprised. They are mostly the older more run down ones with the exception of brookland.

$425k is not likely to happen anymore for a 3 BR home west of the river no matter the area.
Also DC does not have better schools than maryland, at least not Montgomery County. She doesn't know what she is talking about there. She is NOT going to get in a decent neighborhood with good schools in DC for her budget if she is looking for a row home. Sorry...it is simply out of her budget. I am not sad to be the bearer of bad news. She MAY get into a small home that requires renovation in Brightwood or Ft. Totten.

DC is expensive, and honestly being from Atlanta you are not the best person to be giving advice. It's a totally diferent city, if not radically different.

Also the reason why the neighborhoods you listed look run down and older is because many of them are not the best neighborhoods. Some are gentrifying. New buildings are going up like crazy in DC, but they are apartment buildings and offices, not condos or SFH.

Brookland is completely out of her budget for example. Homes that size start at $500k and it gets into serious bidding war.

She will need to look into further out in Montgomery County, especially with the kids. The schools are better there anyway.

Michigan Park - Out of her budget
North Michigan Park - Out of her Budget
Riggs Park-Ft. Totten - She may be able to find something
Ft. Lincoln - In her budget, maybe unsafe, bad public transit access, not very good schools
Atlas - H St. is out of her budget, likewise no place for somebody with kids.
Woodridge - Maybe, if she is lucky. Terrible Public Transit Access.
Queens Chapel - Maybe if she is lucky. Again schools.
Brookland (In her price range, even the fixers are over $400k) - Way out of her budget, bidding wars
Trinidad (MAYBE. As she said this is "up and coming.") - Dangerous and terrible school. No place with somebody with kids.

None of the schools in this area are very good with the exception of Brookland.
Thanks for this info. And I'm not "giving her advice" per say, I just alert her to when I see a new prospective property somewhere, as she just doesn't have time to be glued to a computer. Her mom does the same. With the market so hot in DC, I don't see a problem with her having as many eyes on the lookout as she can....
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Old 09-26-2015, 06:13 PM
 
Location: DC
2,044 posts, read 2,480,280 times
Reputation: 1792
Two years ago, the list of places would have been more extensive. Takoma, Petworth, Brookland, etc.

Every year the inside of DC gets more expensive for fee simple houses.

Again part of the reason everything looks run down to you in this price range is the price range. There is tons of new development, but condos those new developments start north of $350k for a 1 BR. For houses You don't get a nicer house in a good safe area now more less than $500k for a house. DC is not as expensive as SF, but that's not saying much. DC is going through extensive gentrification, and considering the compact size of the city it is happening very quickly. It is not sprawled out like Atlanta, it's usable footprint is comparable to SF.

There are tons of new apartments too but they are mostly studio to two bedroom apartments.

Again, she will have better luck in Montgomery County, which has parts which are in her budget, and likewise have much better schools in those areas. The commute may be a little worse though. There are houses in rockville for example which are in her budget.
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:34 PM
 
298 posts, read 252,147 times
Reputation: 91
I just bought a house in the area 2 months ago, after 14 months of searching, with similar requirements as she has, I was targeting developing areas in NE DC but found myself usually priced out. You will find a small few listings in Michigan Park or Woodridge that list at or below $425k, but if they are any good, you'll find competitive escalating offers. We eventually targeted in on homes near the Arts District in Hyattsville up into University Park and found an amazing house for just under $400k. Felt that the area offered a growing urban feel with suburban homes. Schools become tricky, we found a house that was zoned into UniPark schools which is solid through 6th grade, but if development doesn't lead Hyattsville Middle to better performance, we'll look towards private for middle school and Roosevelt for HS.
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Old 09-27-2015, 02:12 PM
 
999 posts, read 1,803,690 times
Reputation: 1174
Washington, DC is a different beast from Atlanta. So many white-collar professionals make six-figure annual incomes--including federal government employees. Many couples come from a similar upper-middle income background with college degrees from elite and near-elite institutions. It is common through out the District where the spouses each earn six-figure annual incomes. This is the BIGGEST reason why housing prices have been increasing so astronomically over the past decade in DC and inner suburbs. How can a single person with a child making $65,000 in income compete against a married couple with no dependents making a combined income of $300,000/year?

You also have serious anti-development neighborhood movements all over the city. NIMBY groups have the ear of ANCs and eventually the City Council officials. Zoning restrictions kill new higher density projects that would introduce more available housing on the market. Current single-home property owners have a reflexive hostility to any proposed high-density real estate projects because more car traffic, crowded green spaces, greater demands with utilities, possibly more crime and thus, reduced property values. It always comes down to the property value!

Third, the problem resides with real estate developers themselves. Simply put...there is very little economic incentive for them to build affordable housing for lower middle class and working class residents. Developers can get a far better return on their investment by building "luxury" apartment units or condos for the higher-income professional segment of the population. Land, construction materials, hiring hundreds of construction laborers, insurance and not to mention paying back the tens or hundreds of millions in loans to their Wall Street backer: all adds up to a shaky financial situation for the developer.

The housing situation in the Washington, DC metro area is a huge mess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by No2Monsanto View Post
Hi all,

I'm from Atlanta, but have been helping a childhood friend look for a new home via internet listings, and making phone calls to realtors for her; she's a single mom and quite busy.

I know in general that DC is a large metropolis, and of course, with all the conveniences, there will be pricey homes, but I don't think I was prepared for what I've seen. I mean, where do I start? First off, can anyone explain the residential home esthetic to me? Everything in DC proper looks VERY OLD. Like, almost run down. Even in what's considered a "nice area." I'm just not sure what I was expecting exactly. I've been to DC to visit her a few times, but I must have forgotten the landscape. Even when I go to NYC, they're tearing down entire buildings to put up brand new, luxury apartment buildings. I just fail to see more new real estate in DC. Maybe it's a space issue, I'm not sure. Then again, I'm used to Atlanta, where we have 5x the space of DC, and every time I turn around some big time developer is throwing some new, swanky, hip apartment building or condos up. Heck, The Palms hotel and casino just put in a bid to build a new casino downtown. But I know up north is more dense, with less space so I guess that's the difference.

Why aren't developers coming into neighborhoods in DC and totally gentrifying a whole neighborhood, instead of buying 2 or 3 houses on the block, which leaves you with old and new mixed?? Then once they do buy one, they renovate it and flip it for an ASTRONOMICAL, RIDICULOUS price! I'm so confused. I just don't know how the average person with a family affords to buy there.

I suggested to my friend that maybe she should just buy a fixer-upper, and renovate it to her liking; then maybe she can save some money. Well, first of all, when she DOES find a fixer-upper in a fairly good community, she's competing with investors who have cash on hand, and will always win if the property comes to a bidding war. And let me just say: At some point, they all seem to get that point!! I'm so serious right now. Like, two days ago, I called her and told her to text her real estate agent STAT on a property that was in her desire area, and in her price range. By the time the agent called about the property and got back to her, the status had changed to PENDING!! What?! Wow, it's red hot up there in DC, clearly.

Anywho, I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to better navigate this process. She's an attorney and makes $130k per year, and her budget is $425K. She's been approved for an FHA loan, and wants 3 bdrm and 1.5 to 2 baths with a basement and small yard (she has twin boys). Her target areas are these:

Michigan Park
North Michigan Park
Riggs Park-Ft. Totten
Ft. Lincoln
Atlas
Woodridge
Queens Chapel
Brookland (In her price range, even the fixers are over $400k)
Trinidad (MAYBE. As she said this is "up and coming.")

If there are any other nice, safe areas that would fit into this budget that you guys know of in DC proper, I really appreciate it in advance. She's is totally against moving out to Virginia, because she said the traffic is a NIGHTMARE! And according to her, DC has better schools than Maryland, so that's out. Thanks!
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:16 AM
 
1,589 posts, read 998,552 times
Reputation: 1092
Quote:
Originally Posted by coldbliss View Post
So many white-collar professionals make six-figure annual incomes--including federal government employees. Many couples come from a similar upper-middle income background with college degrees from elite and near-elite institutions. It is common through out the District where the spouses each earn six-figure annual incomes. This is the BIGGEST reason why housing prices have been increasing so astronomically over the past decade in DC and inner suburbs.
This has been going on since the WWII in-migrations of white-collar workers, and then the second wave of JFK/LBJ inspired "best and the brightest" talent inflows. Prices may have plateaued to some degree during the exception years of the Great Recession, but the underlying factors driving prices upward here didn't go anywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldbliss View Post
How can a single person with a child making $65,000 in income compete against a married couple with no dependents making a combined income of $300,000/year?
Can't be done. No reason to have any such expectations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldbliss View Post
Zoning restrictions kill new higher density projects that would introduce more available housing on the market.
There is plenty of high density development going on, particularly around Metro stations. Rather obviosuly, it's predominantly upscale and expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldbliss View Post
Third, the problem resides with real estate developers themselves. Simply put...there is very little economic incentive for them to build affordable housing for lower middle class and working class residents.
There is very little economic incentive for grocery and department stores to sell at a loss either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldbliss View Post
The housing situation in the Washington, DC metro area is a huge mess.
It is just the same as everywhere else. Modern, well-appointed properties that are conveniently or attractively located will end up being expensive. That's pretty much the deal all over.
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:47 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC
27 posts, read 134,583 times
Reputation: 30
Your friend may want to expand her search and consider areas that are east of the river. With the savings, she can send her children to private school. Contrary to popular believe, there are working class communities east of the river such as Hillcrest and Penn Branch that she may find appealing. West of the river, she would be lucky to land a condo in today's market however, looking east she may even land new construction.
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