From One Anacostia Investment To a Development Firm

by Shilpi Paul

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Paula Wu, right, and her agent Megan Markey. Photo by Porter Watkins.

Late last year, UrbanTurf wrote about a young real estate investor named Paula Wu who had recently purchased her first property in Anacostia.

Wu, a recent college grad, crunched the numbers and decided that purchasing, renovating and then renting out a four-unit apartment building in the neighborhood would yield a strong return, and offer her a source of income that would supplement her day job as a researcher. Now that a few months have passed, UrbanTurf was interested in seeing how things are working out.

In short, Wu is very pleased. While the project has not been without its issues — she discovered plumbing and HVAC problems that were expensive to fix — her first investment experience has motivated her to search for more opportunities. Wu even pulled together a small development team, dubbed Dominic Properties, to find, renovate, and sell properties. Real estate agent Megan Markey and property manager Karissa Leake, who both assisted Wu with the first project, are on the team.

Right now, Dominic Properties is working on a four-unit building at 479 Orange Street SE in Congress Heights. Wu is planning on renovating the building, which she bought as a short sale, and then filling it with tenants. While she plans on holding onto her first property for several years, she is hoping to sell the Congress Heights project, renters included.

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479 Orange Street SE.

Unlike some investors, who have middle- and upper-class buyers and renters in mind, Wu is focused on investing in affordable housing.

“While there are concerns about overbuilding of Class A apartments in certain areas of DC, there will always be a shortage for low-income housing, especially subsidized housing,” Wu predicted. “The Section 8 waiting list is many years long.”

Wu did run into some competition when looking for her next property; a Columbia Heights home that she was interested in garnered 35 offers. But the Congress Heights property that they ended up purchasing was a short sale, that Wu said they bought “at a discount.”

Like many other investors out there, Dominic is focusing its search for properties in transitional areas where Wu believes there will be growth, and where she can find distressed properties at below-market values.

“Market growth in Ward 8 has only just begun,” said Wu. “Its livability, safety, and access to resources has increased. This trend should only continue as the projects at St. Elizabeth’s, Barry Farms, and Sheridan Station move forward and replace former crime and blight epicenters with mixed-income housing over the next 10 years.”

However, Wu is by no means alone in her thinking as investors swoop in to these areas. Five other properties on the block of Orange Street SE where Wu’s property is located have been or are in the process of being renovated.

For now Wu is holding on to her day job, though she is hiring more people to enable Dominic Properties to work on multiple projects at once. She coordinates her team and the contractors in her off hours…and during lunch. We will check back in with her down the road to see how things are panning out.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/from_one_anacostia_investment_to_a_development_firm/6835

2 Comments

  1. John said at 11:45 am on Thursday March 28, 2013:

    Congrats to Paula on her success. As a recent grad myself (4 years out)I’ve been considering this same idea. Can anyone offer insight as to HUD’s contract period. Is payment for most section 8 units guaranteed for min. 10 years? Also, are there restrictions on the investor having to reside in the property?

  1. ROB said at 11:14 pm on Thursday May 1, 2014:

    DEAR EDITOR: YOU ARE NOT AN EDITOR, YOU HAVE GIVEN YOURSELF A TITLE THAT HAS NO VALUE. SINCE YOU HAVE REMOVED THE ABILITY TO RESPOND TO YOUR LAST RIDICULOUS COMMENT (SEE BELOW) BY REMOVING THE ABILITY TO LEAVE COMMENTS ON THAT ARTICLE I WILL DO IT HERE. YOU ARE NOT AN EDITOR BECAUSE YOU CONTINUALLY TRY TO CONTROL AND STOP THE FLOW OF DIALOGUE TO MAKE SURE IT IS WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. YOUR WATER DOWN ARTICLES ARE USELESS AND THIS SITE IS IN THE SAME LEAGUE AS SUPERMARKET TABLOIDS BUT FOR REAL ESTATE.

    AS FAR AS MY COMMENTS REGARDING PAULA WU. YOU REPORTED THAT SHE WON MISS TAIWAN. ISN’T THAT A COMPETITION BASED ON APPEARANCE? YOU BROUGHT UP THE SUBJECT. AREN’T PEOPLE THAT ENTER THOSE JUDGED ON WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE? DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO AGREE THAT BECAUSE SOMEONE WINS THAT SO CALLED COMPETITION THAT THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL?  I SAID, “WHAT DOES A BEAUTY COMPETITION HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING”.... OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT YOU THE EDITOR IS TRYING TO FLUFF AND BUILD PAULA WU UP INTO SOME SORT OF SUPERHERO. I SAID I DATED HOTTER AND COULDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW SHE COULD WIN SUCH A CONTEST. AM I NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE SUCH AN OPINION? IF I SAID SHE IS HOT, THEN EDITOR WOULD HAVE SHE THAT IS GREAT, KEEP THAT COMMENT IN.

    PS I AM NOT STUPID TO GIVE YOU ME EMAIL ADDRESS AND HAVE YOU DO WHAT EDITOR DOES BEST AND DELETE IT. I DON’T TRUST “EDITOR”

    ————
    WHAT EDITOR THE GREAT WROTE:
    Rob,

    Your comment was edited because it violated our comment section policy in that it spoke to Ms. Wu’s physical appearance. Call this a PR piece all day long, but please refrain from speaking about the individual’s appearance. UT will not tolerate that.  We attempted to email the address you provided in order to explain, but it bounced back.

    We are closing the comments section of this article. Thanks for understanding.

    The Editors

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