Washington Highlands and Congress Heights, 20032
One-year price growth: 63%
Local real-estate investor Sherman Ragland says what we’re seeing today in the District’s Ward 8, of which this Zip code is a part, is much like what we saw in downtown DC during the “return-to-the-city movement” of the mid-’90s—a first wave of what he calls “fix-and-flip guys” turning houses for a quick profit. The catalyst behind the fresh interest in the area is the development planned for the original site of St. Elizabeths hospital, particularly the arrival of the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. “Buyers drive flippers,” Ragland says, “and Ward 8 is finally on buyers’ radar screens.”
Brentwood and Cottage City, 20722
One-year price growth 42%:
Rhode Island Avenue cuts through the middle of this Prince George’s County Zip code, providing quick access to both downtown DC and the burgeoning arts districts of the county’s Hyattsville and Mount Rainier. The area was hit hard during the recession but experienced a dramatic drop in foreclosures during 2012 and 2013. With its early-20th-century housing and quiet residential feel, Cottage City has begun to attract a lot of first-time homebuyers and flippers.
One-year price growth: 40%
The Prince George’s County Redevelopment Authority targeted this neighborhood with a homeownership program called Buy Suitland. Although funding for it is no longer available, the program had the desired effect: Flippers and first-time buyers flocked to the area. Real-estate agent Stephanie Terry and her team have bought, rehabbed, and sold four houses in Suitland. “The bidding wars are outrageous,” says Terry, who turned to knocking on doors and sending letters to find properties to buy. “It’s almost impossible to buy a house as an investor in Suitland.”
Falls Church/Seven Corners, 22044
One-year price growth: 28%
This Zip code experienced the highest one-year price growth in Northern Virginia last year. But unlike the other neighborhoods highlighted in this section, the explosion of prices can’t be attributed to flippers (and the increase was less sharp). Agents think it has to do with affordability—with houses in DC, Alexandria, and Arlington regularly pushing $1 million, Falls Church has become increasingly attractive to families willing to add ten minutes to their commute if it means saving $200,000. But the savings won’t last much longer if prices continue to grow so quickly—the median price last year was $515,000, up from $402,500 in 2012.