Inside Real Estate With Kevin: Where to Buy a House in D.C.
This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.
Buyers ask their agents all sorts of questions, which is what we’re here for. Most questions are easily answered (How far is the nearest metro stop? What year was the house built? Is the house in an historic district?) Other questions are not answered quite as easily.
I had a client once who wanted to know — seriously — if there was a way to find out if the house he was buying was haunted. I told him he’d have to research that himself. The last time I talked to him he seemed fine and was enjoying his house.
Buyers very often ask if the area they are interested in is safe, which is something real estate agents aren’t legally allowed to discuss. And occasionally I still get questions about an area’s demographics, another subject we’re not allowed to discuss. One thing many buyers want to know is whether the property they’re buying is a good investment. That’s one of the hardest questions to answer, and something the buyers need to determine for themselves. I usually tell buyers who ask if what they’re buying is a good investment is that I can’t see into the future. Who knows how D.C.’s market will be in 5, 10 or 20 years?
Certain (even most) D.C. neighborhoods have done very, very well over the past 15 years or so. Logan, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Petworth, Bloomingdale and Eckington are just a few of the neighborhoods where prices are dramatically higher than they were when I started in real estate 13 years ago. The last figure I saw for D.C.’s population growth was something like a 1000 person per month increase, which is a good thing for D.C. property values, and I don’t see signs that’s stopping anytime soon.
I also tell my buyers that their primary concern should be to find a home they want to live in, are happy in, with a monthly payment they can afford in the long term. If their property increases in value over time, all the better. Sometimes my clients ask me where I would buy if I were buying an investment property for myself. The answer that question has changed, obviously, over the years.
When Columbia Heights started to boom, I recommended Petworth. When Petworth boomed, I said Brightwood. When Brookland started to take off, I suggested neighboring Woodridge. Now that both neighborhoods seeing tons of renovations and new construction, I’d say that Fort Totten is a great place to buy. East of the river neighborhoods like Congress Heights and Anacostia, where prices were pretty stable for years, are now also seen as good investments and great places to live, and are only a short drive away from everything happening in Navy Yard.
In short, buy a property you want to live in and will be happy in. If it increases in value over time, which seems likely in many D.C. neighborhoods, at least in the short term, that’s icing on the cake.