Earlier this week, an eye-popping listing in the desirable Sligo Park Hills neighborhood of Silver Spring began making the rounds among DC-area agents, and ultimately wound up making at least one national headline. The modest fixer-upper on Fleetwood Terrace—still with its original 1940s bathrooms and kitchen—had pulled in 88 offers, 76 of them all-cash. It sold for $460,000—70 percent above its list price.
Yes, that sounds nuts, and while the Washington housing market truly is insane, this particular house is not an especially fair reflection of reality. Listed for $275,000, it was, according to Silver Spring agents, dramatically underpriced to begin with. Indeed, no other detached homes—including much smaller ones in rough shape—have sold in this zip code for anywhere near that low of a price in the past three months. Which is to say, listed at $275,000, the house was bound to attract an excessive amount of interest. “The land [alone] is worth that much,” says Silver Spring agent Donna Kerr.
So, what happened? Ellen Coleman, the agent who listed Fleetwood Terrace, explains that the property was an estate sale, meaning it had to be appraised as part of the probate process. Because the appraisal came back at $275,000, Coleman says the estate’s executor wanted to list it at that price. Still, while Coleman says she knew it was low, she had no idea it would go as crazy as it did. Once the offers started rolling in, she says, “It was overwhelming. Just totally overwhelming.” She says her email kept freezing up because it couldn’t handle the deluge of contracts. “It really kind of sucked the life out of me for a couple of days.”
Other Silver Spring agents told Washingtonian they would’ve listed the house for anywhere from $375,000 to $400,000. Coleman says she probably would’ve listed it for $350,000. To be sure, even within that price range, the house still would have had a ton of offers. Coleman says about half the Fleetwood Terrace contracts were for at least $400,000. The house ultimately settled on March 15 for $460,000. The buyer was a developer who Coleman suspects will add a second level and majorly reconfigure the place.
Bottom line: The Washington housing market is ludicrous. Fleetwood Terrace likely would’ve gotten dozens of offers no matter what—it just would’ve gotten a few dozen fewer had it been priced more in line with the market.