News & Politics

Spring Real-Estate Guide: Where to Expect a Bidding War

In 2013, these five neighborhoods had a sale-to-list ratio of more than 100 percent. What’s that mean? Lots and lots of homes sold for more than their asking price.

Photo courtesy of W.F. Chesley Real Estate.

If you haven’t driven through Brookland lately, you might not recognize it. The once-sleepy Northeast DC neighborhood abutting Catholic University is now home to a Starbucks, a Potbelly sandwich shop, hundreds of high-end apartments, and come July, a Barnes & Noble. The mastermind behind much of this development is Jim Abdo, a major force driving the rejuvenation of Northwest DC’s 14th Street in the last decade. The upshot: Prices have grown by 31 percent in the past three years.

Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant
Boutique condos, restored rowhouses as well as fixer-uppers, single-family homes along Rock Creek Park—this Zip code seems to have it all. There’s also a burgeoning nightlife scene along 11th Street, Northwest, two Metro stations, and prices that are still lower than in downtown neighborhoods such as Logan Circle. Pair all of this with a severe shortage of inventory and you have one of the most competitive markets in the city. “I saw 23 offers on a house in Mount Pleasant,” broker Ati Williams says. “And it needed a lot of work.”

This Zip code starts at the DC line at Eastern and New Hampshire avenues and stretches northeast, skirting alongside College Park and passing through Hyattsville, Langley Park, and Hillandale. In 2010 and 2011, the market was inundated with foreclosures, but the flood of auctions has slowed in the last two years. As a result, median prices are up from $140,000 in 2012 to $195,000 in 2013. Broker Martha Martinez says the days of low-balls and help with closing costs are gone: “Buyers have to put in a strong offer to win.”

Young families flock to this Rockville neighborhood for its affordability, proximity to Metro, and good schools. Most of the homes—mainly three-bedroom Cape Cods and split-levels built in the 1950s—are within walking distance of either the Rockville or Twinbrook Metro station on the Red Line. “Inventory is probably half what it should be in Rockville,” agent Victor Llewellyn says.

H Street
This Zip code, which includes the Northeast side of Capitol Hill, has undergone tremendous change—new bars and restaurants, a streetcar about to start running, a Whole Foods in the works. When asked about property values for our real-estate guide last spring, agent Brandon Green sounded bullish: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a 10-percent bump in appreciation in the next year.” He was actually underestimating the market’s strength: Prices spiked by 15 percent from 2012 to 2013.

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