Well I decided to try to gain some perspective and instead of just going around Shaw, LeDroit Park and Eckington complaining about open houses, I went around other parts of DC looking at open houses. I decided to look at a few homes in well established, non-gentrifying, been done gentrified decades ago neighborhoods of Historic Capitol Hill (as opposed to that other Capitol Hill that runs all the way to RFK) and Georgetown. I tried looking at homes in the general $600K range that I had seen some Shaw homes advertised for, but with Georgetown, $600K is rock bottom cheap.
First home I looked at was a Georgetown home at 1634 33rd St, which is a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath priced at $799K. I have a 2 bedroom 1.5 bath, I wanted to compare. Nice house and it presented well. It still looked occupied and it was very nicely decorated and very clean. The painted glass was a little cheesy but from a distance looked nice. Screw it, you’re paying to live in Georgetown, close to the expensive stores and cool restaurants. The house was very nice. It looked like a friend’s house. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing glaring. I could imagine it looks much nicer in Spring with the flowers out.
I grabbed the 30something bus and went to Capitol Hill and got off around Eastern Market. That is a nice neighborhood. Now Capitol Hill as I know and remember has some good spots and it has some not so good spots and this can vary from block to block. When I mean not so good in the Historic Capitol Hill area, I’m talking dark streets and blocks that give off a bad vibe, particularly at night. In the day, it is all good. I envied the Hill people for having restaurants, with wait service, and outdoor cafes, parks, argh!!!
Anywho, looked at 540 7th St SE a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath going for $699,900. It had a funky setup with an office like area on the bottom first level and the living quarters upstairs. This house also showed very well. The paint job was new and well done. The fireplaces were going, the house was clean and had a minimal amount of furniture but didn’t look empty. The french doors sparkled, the patio was neat, the various colors of the wall and wainscoting worked well. It was a very nice house. And the location couldn’t be beat being not that far from the metro.
A few steps away at 625 South Carolina Avenue SE I entered the house that time forgot. A house trapped in the past. And that past was the Ford administration. At $659K this 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath with unfinished basement wasn’t a bad house, it showed as well as a house of it’s decor could show and I bet it was a shining jewel back in 1975, but it could use some updating. The addition on the back gave me some ideas and looked okay, but overall, it cried to be updated. In general it looked like a decently maintained house. Like the Georgetown house the main attraction is that you are not far from the Capitol, parks, museums, a bunch of cafes… good stuff.
I came back on the 90 bus and good Lord, I hate the 90 bus. Men drinking malt liquor in brown paper bags, and a guy selling DVDs (yes on the bus) who sat down next to me, pulled out a bunch of pungent smelling BBQ chicken wings and chowed down while mumbling and cursing. I hate the 90 bus.
In Shaw I quickly visited 1726 4th St, NW, a 2 bedroom 2 bath on the corner of 4th and Florida going for $429K. Now with the perspective gained from looking at the other houses I have to say…. still a little bit overpriced. I will say it showed well, like the Georgetown house (not as well as the best Cap Hill house) being clean and accenting the positives of the occupied house. I will cut this house some slack as it has one of those big, almost big enough to be a room, hallways on the second floor, and the agent was kinda guapo and friendly. But location, location, location. This doesn’t have what the other neighborhoods have and that is some sort of stability and services that are in the here and now. Prices here in this part of Shaw are banking on what could be.
So today’s lesson is clean the house top to bottom before selling, making sure all contracting work is done, and if the house is occupied go for the minimalist look. It also helps when the layouts make sense, the bedrooms (or any other rooms in the house) don’t look cramp, and the design and feel is livable.