Design & Home

These 19 Washington Zip Codes are in High Demand

A look at what makes these area neighborhoods so desirable.
This six-bedroom in Chevy Chase went for $2.2 million. Photograph by David Pipkin

Though Washington’s real-estate market was less frenzied in 2014—with 6 percent fewer sales than in 2013—there’s no question we still live in a seller’s paradise, where low inventory often pushes buyers to extremes. We all know the stories: The friend who bid up a property’s asking price by tens of thousands and waived a home inspection. The coworker who landed a dozen offers after the first open house. The neighbors who sold for 25 percent more than they paid three years ago.

While sales may have slowed last year, 2015 is off to a healthy start. According to the analytics firm RealEstate Business Intelligence—which supplied all the data for this report—both the total number of transactions and median prices were up this January and February compared to last. And with spring finally here, the market is sure to get hotter.

Where You’ll Pay the Most

These six neighborhoods boast the priciest homes in Washington—though interest in some may be waning.

1. Great Falls

Median sales price: $1,112,500.

$2,750,000 Great Falls This 10,000-square-foot house sold in August. Photograph by HomeVisit

22066 While the number of sales in the well-heeled Fairfax County suburb fell by 30 percent, the homes that did sell made Great Falls the only local Zip code with a median price above $1 million in 2014. The sluggish sales volume, says real-estate agent Debbie McGuire, may reflect an aging inventory. While new homes go for upward of $1.8 million, many slightly more affordable options ($1.3 million to $1.6 million) were built in the ’90s and have had few updates, according to McGuire: “Buyers just aren’t interested.”

2. McLean

Median sales price: $960,000.

22101 Already sought after for its schools and proximity to DC, McLean could see even more demand this year thanks to last summer’s opening of Metro’s Silver Line. Agent Barbara Lewis says “inventory is tightening up” for homes under $1 million, and more buyers and builders are looking for properties to tear down and rebuild from scratch. Prices have held steady, appreciating just 1 percent last year.

3. Chevy Chase DC

Median sales price: $925,000.

$1,190,000 Chevy Chase DC Families love the neighborhood for its schools and tree-lined streets. Photograph of Chevy Chase DC house by Rina Kunk

20015 For families wanting the space and tranquility of suburban life along with the amenities and proximity of urban life, it’s tough to beat this tree-lined Zip code with attractive schools. Some houses are grand—one reason the neighborhood is among the area’s priciest—and even modest homes attract intense interest. Agent Heather Davenport had a client last year who had to face off with 12 other buyers for “a starter house.” Her client won, but not without going $112,000 above list price and waiving a home inspection.

4. Georgetown

Median sales price: $900,000.

20007 Though the neighborhood’s 2014 median price remained unchanged from 2013, Georgetown is still a seller’s market and one of the most desirable Zip codes in the District. Among last year’s biggest transactions: the Williams-Addison House, a nine-bed, 13-bath mansion on 31st Street that sold for $16.1 million, beating out any other DC home in 2014.

5. Chevy Chase

Median sales price: $899,000.

20815 After more than 11 percent appreciation last year, prices in this Montgomery County neighborhood have surpassed their 2006 peak. According to agent Melinda Estridge, demand has largely been driven by a desire for convenience—the Zip code is close to Rock Creek Park, the Red Line, and plenty of shopping. It also boasts a mix of historic homes and luxury condominiums.

6. Potomac

Median sales price: $888,000.

20854 Montgomery County’s land of sprawling mansions continues to draw interest due to attractive schools, the sheer size of its homes, and their relative seclusion. But the number of sales fell by 6 percent in 2014, and the median price took a slight, 2.4-percent dip, too. As more buyers prioritize walkability and urban-feeling environments, the trend could continue. Says Estridge: “People would rather have something closer in.”

Where Your Dollar Won’t Stretch

Price per square foot is arguably the real way to determine which neighborhoods are the most expensive. Here’s where you’ll get the least space for your money.

West End

Median price per square foot: $675.

20037 Even with sales volume down by 22 percent, price per square foot jumped $35 in the fashionable neighborhood west of downtown DC. Prices are buoyed by the ultra-luxe condos favored by international buyers, such as the Ritz-Carlton Residences, though older Foggy Bottom rowhouses are also included in the Zip code.

Logan Circle

Median price per square foot: $632.

20005 Though there’s no question Logan is one of DC’s trendiest neighborhoods, the amount of competition here can surprise even experienced agents. Kevin Wood listed a house on Wallach Place late last year for just under $1.2 million. “I didn’t intentionally price it low,” the agent says. “We looked at the comps, and that’s what we thought it would sell for.” He was wrong. Three cash offers immediately came in, and the 1,500-square-foot rowhouse sold for $1.3 million.

Georgetown

Median price per square foot: $598.

20007 Though the neighborhood’s 2014 median price remained unchanged from 2013, Georgetown is still a seller’s market and one of the most desirable Zip codes in the District. Among last year’s biggest transactions: the Williams-Addison House, a nine-bed, 13-bath mansion on 31st Street that sold for $16.1 million, beating out any other DC home in 2014.

Adams Morgan/U Street

Median price per square foot: $594.

$1,750,000 Adams Morgan This rowhouse almost hit its $1.8-million asking price. Photograph by David Pipkin

20009 Prices stayed relatively stagnant last year, but this sprawling Zip code—which also includes parts of Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights—remains one of DC’s most expensive. Row-house renovations and continued con-do development, particularly on 14th Street, helped give the area more sales (928) than anywhere else in the city.

Dupont/Downtown DC

Median price per square foot: $563.

20036 Don’t let the area’s relatively low median price of $330,000 fool you. Residences in this apartment-and-office-heavy Zip code tend toward the tiny, which ex-plains the hefty price per square foot. The area seems a perfect fit for the 90 micro-units (all 400 square feet or less) that it’s slated to get with the conversion of Dupont Circle’s Patterson Mansion.

Where Homes Sell Fast

Properties spent the fewest days on the market in these areas—so if you spot a house you want, act quickly.

1. Arlington

Median days on market: 7.

$925,000 Arlington This five-bedroom Colonial lasted just nine days on the market. Photograph by BTW images

22205 There are a number of reasons this Zip code remains among the most desirable in Washington. Compared with other areas in expensive North Arlington, the housing here covers a range of prices, says agent Joy Deevy, from townhouses for less than $600,000 to new single-family homes for around $1.6 million. Buyers flock to the Zip code’s especially popular Westover neighborhood for its walkability to restaurants and shopping.

2. Del Ray

Median days on market: 7.

22301 In addition to Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood—with a quaint Main Street America-style commercial strip, making it a big draw for families—the Zip code also includes Rosemont, a neighborhood within walking distance of Old Town Alexandria, and Potomac Yard, a brand-new development of condos and townhouses, with a Metro stop in the works. Add all these things up and it’s no wonder competition is stiff when properties become available.

3. Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant

Median days on market: 8.

20010 The number of sales here rocketed 32 percent in 2014, and on average, properties went for more than their asking price. One contributor to the Zip code’s continued rise: the fact that Columbia Heights’ commercial corridor is no longer dominated by big-box chains on 14th Street—the growing district of bars and restaurants along 11th Street to the east has made the neighborhood even more attractive. And as prices directly to the south in Logan Circle and the U Street corridor get more astronomical, agent Kevin Wood says more of his clients are focusing on 20010.

4. Navy Yard/Eastern Market.

Median days on market: 9.

20003 Navy Yard, the Southeast DC neighborhood near Nationals Park, feels like a new city, with its luxury condo and apartment buildings, restaurants, and beautiful Yards Park—a public space finally allowing residents to take advantage of the Anacostia riverfront. The Zip code also includes Eastern Market and two other Metro stops—Capitol South and Potomac Avenue—adding to its allure for commuters. With nearly 2,000 more residential units being built, the neighborhood seems poised for even more growth.

5. Logan Circle

Median days on market: 9.

$3,900,000 Logan Circle In November, a five-story Victorian become the neighborhood’s most expensive home ever sold. Photograph by Marlon Crutchfield Photography

20005 Though there’s no question Logan is one of DC’s trendiest neighborhoods, the amount of competition here can surprise even experienced agents. Kevin Wood listed a house on Wallach Place late last year for just under $1.2 million. “I didn’t intentionally price it low,” the agent says. “We looked at the comps, and that’s what we thought it would sell for.” He was wrong. Three cash offers immediately came in, and the 1,500-square-foot rowhouse sold for $1.3 million.

6. Chevy Chase DC

Median days on market: 9.

20015 For families wanting the space and tranquility of suburban life along with the amenities and proximity of urban life, it’s tough to beat this tree-lined Zip code with attractive schools. Some houses are grand—one reason the neighborhood is among the area’s priciest—and even modest homes attract intense interest. Agent Heather Davenport had a client last year who had to face off with 12 other buyers for “a starter house.” Her client won, but not without going $112,000 above list price and waiving a home inspection.

Where Prices are on the Rise

These neighborhoods—all areas where flippers and homebuyers can still expect a healthy return on their investment—saw double-digit increases in 2014.

Riverdale

One-year price growth: 28.9 percent.

Median sales price: $205,000.

$420,000 Riverdale The median sales price here climbed by almost 30 percent last year. Photograph of Riverdale house by Gloria Rojas/Fairfax Realty

20737 Once over-shadowed by neighboring Hyattsville and College Park, this Zip code—which contains most of River-dale Park and East Riverdale—is beginning to boom. Helping to fuel the uptick is a $250-million mixed-use development—which will be anchored by the first Whole Foods in Prince George’s County—as well as the prospect of a Purple Line Metro stop (although that part is far from certain).

Landover

One-year price growth: 27.3 percent.

Median sales price: $168,000.

20785 Despite huge appreciation, the median price in this Prince George’s Zip code is nearly $60,000 cheaper than in nearby Hyattsville, a sign that there’s still a lot of investment potential here. “Inventory is extremely low,” says real-estate agent Ann Barrett, and development projects along Route 202 will likely spur additional demand. The FBI is also considering relocating its headquarters to the Ted Lerner-owned Landover Mall site, which would bring 11,000 employees to the neighborhood.

District Heights

One-year price growth: 26.9 percent.

Median sales price: $165,000.

20747 Though sales in the area, which includes District Heights and Forestville, declined 19 percent, prices rose 27 percent, with new homes in the Prince George’s Zip code approaching $400,000. Realtor Irene Smith says more young families are moving to the suburb, drawn to its convenient location—midway between Metro’s Blue and Green lines, just off the Beltway and Suitland Parkway—and its historic houses.

Brentwood

One-year price growth: 22.1 percent.

Median sales price: $197,500.

20722 As part of the Gateway Arts District in Prince George’s County, a half mile from the DC line, Brentwood has seen renewed interest from developers catering to its young residents. Agent Ed Haraway says young buyers are drawn to this and other areas along the Route 1 corridor (where Rhode Island Avenue exits DC) because they’re reasonably priced and a short drive to the District. Though on average, houses in Brentwood are going for more than list price, buyers can still find affordable single-family homes.

Anacostia/Hillcrest

One-year price growth: 21 percent.

Median sales price: $242,000.

20020 Sales volume increased by nearly 20 percent in 2014, and particularly in Anacostia’s historic district, bidding wars have become an expected part of the homebuying process. Why is the neighborhood so hot? “It’s the last affordable area in DC,” says broker Darrin Davis. In addition to the spurt of rehabs among the aging houses, new condos along Suitland Parkway are filling up. For now, says Duane Gautier, CEO of Anacostia’s nonprofit ARCH Development Corporation, “the supply is there” to support newcomers. In three to five years, however, that could change.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith (@harrisondsmith on Twitter) has contributed to the Washington Post and Chicago magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]