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Tales From the Boom and Bust: Where to Buy Now
Comments () | Published May 1, 2010

Where Prices Have Held Steady

In Virginia: Alexandria (22302)

Wedged between Old Town and southern Arlington County, the 22302 Zip code in Alexandria includes the neighborhoods of Fairlington, Beverley Hills, North Ridge/Rosemont, and the sprawling 1,700-unit Parkfairfax condo community, a five-minute walk across a pedestrian bridge from Shirlington.

Prices here have been remarkably stable. Last year’s median sales price was down by 3 percent to $320,000—the biggest year-to-year change since at least 2005. Last year, homes spent an average of just 56 days on the market, among the lowest numbers in the region. “It’s not remarkable for something to sell in a week or two,” says real-estate agent Tom Pietsch.

Prices range from around $100,000 for a studio condo to $1 million–plus for a four-bedroom Colonial with a detached garage. Many residents live in high-rises or garden-style condos. A few custom-built houses are sprinkled among decades-old Colonials, Cape Cods, bungalows, and ramblers.

Thanks to profuse azaleas and dogwood and cherry trees, a cloud of pink and white blooms appears each spring. “The area offers a suburban feel even though it’s very close to the city,” says agent Joy Deevy.

A big draw is the proximity to Reagan National Airport and major arteries such as I-395. Metro doesn’t directly serve most of the area, but Alexandria’s DASH bus connects commuters to the nearby Pentagon and elsewhere.

In DC: Logan Circle (20005)

No longer an enclave of urban pioneers, Logan Circle is among the District’s most popular addresses—which helps explain why it’s been immune to the price fluctuations that have affected other areas.

Last year’s median sales price was $435,000, up by 3 percent from 2008, with homes spending an average of 83 days on the market. Since 2005, the median has stayed between $415,000 and $435,000.

Rowhouses list in the $800,000-to-$2-million range, says agent Ira Hersh, while condos fetch anywhere from $300,000 for a small condo in the southern part of the neighborhood to around a million for a luxury loft with high-end finishes.

In addition to the Logan traffic circle, the area’s other defining landmark is the bustling Whole Foods on P Street. Officially, the Zip code stretches from 16th to 11th Street and from tree-lined Q Street south to Metro Center.

During the boom, new buildings seemed to crop up on every corner. Historic Victorian rowhouses mingle with sleek mid-rise condos.

New restaurants and independent shops open almost weekly along 14th Street. Says agent Mandy Mills: “There’s just a great buzz right now about Logan—I think it comes from all the art and furniture galleries, which have brought this really eclectic, creative energy to the area.”

In Maryland: Kensington (20895)

Once a popular summer retreat for Washingtonians, the old-timey town of Kensington draws commuters who often settle in for the long haul.

Nestled along Connecticut Avenue north of Chevy Chase, Kensington sprouted around a stretch of the B&O Railroad. Today those tracks are served by MARC trains that pull into DC’s Union Station in less than half an hour.

Last year the median sales price was $462,000, down by almost 6 percent from 2008—the biggest price change in recent years—due to a smattering of condo foreclosures on the outskirts of town. Since 2005, the median price has stayed within a small window.

Real-estate agent Gary Ditto says homes tend to list from $350,000 to around $2 million, but the most active range is between $400,000 and $750,000. Historic Victorians near downtown hover near a million dollars.

Loosely modeled after its manicured namesake garden district in London, Kensington hugs Rock Creek Park and features a Victorian garden at the town center where locals gather for a weekly farmers market. The colorful Labor Day parade has lots of small-town charm. Shoppers flock to the 80-store Antique Row on Howard Avenue. Along Beach Drive, playgrounds and jogging trails abound.

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Posted at 05:00 PM/ET, 05/01/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles