Rent vs. Buy: Brookland

by Michele Lerner

Plenty of rent-versus-own calculators are available online to do a purely numbers-driven evaluation of whether you should buy a home or rent one. (The New York Times has a particularly good one.) But, as most buyers in search of a new home know, the decision to buy a home is not purely financial. It requires a long-term commitment to a property and a neighborhood.

UrbanTurf is working its way through the neighborhoods of the city to gather estimates of rent and home prices as well as the distinctive characteristics of each community. This week, we visit Brookland.

Brookland Metro by Josh Howell

The Neighborhood

Northeast DC’s Brookland neighborhood, home to Catholic University, Trinity Washington University, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, was once called “Little Rome” for obvious reasons. Now, it is one of the most diverse areas in the city with a mix of residents who have lived there for decades, single new homeowners, families with young children, and students.

Stemming from its history as home to the jazz musicians and singers who performed at U Street clubs in the 1940’s and 1950’s, Long and Foster’s Andi Fleming says that the area also attracts a lot of artists, and as a result, there are plenty of neighborhood poetry and book clubs and writers groups. The Brookland Metro Station on the Red Line services most of the area, and a few casual restaurants and shops can be found along 12th Street near Monroe Street, including Colonel Brooks Tavern, a long-time neighborhood pub.

Row Homes in Brookland

To Buy…

According to Fleming, Brookland has an affordable mix of fixer-uppers as well as renovated row houses and single-family homes priced in the upper $300,000’s to mid $400,000’s that appeal to a mix of teachers, government workers and employees at nearby Children’s Hospital and Washington Hospital Center.

This four-bedroom stone home at 3100 13th Street NE needs a little TLC, even though it was renovated about eight years ago. Priced at $285,000 (and under contract as of today), the home has estimated monthly payments of $1250/month after a 20 percent down payment of $57,000.

In contrast, this three-bedroom, two-bath row house at 1916 Newton Street NE is fully renovated, has a large back deck and backyard and an off-street parking space. Hence the higher price: $425,000. Monthly payments are estimated at $1,846 with a 20 percent down payment.

The Grounds of Catholic University

…Or To Rent

One-bedroom apartments in Brookland rent for just under $1,000 to about $1,200 per month. Two-bedrooms range from $1,300 to $1,600. Group homes in Brookland are popular with students and university professionals. Renting a four or five-bedroom home can range from $3,600 to over $5,000 per month depending on the condition of the property.

The Verdict

Buy, buy, buy. Given the housing stock and the marginal difference in monthly mortgage payments versus rents (especially if you are willing to buy an inexpensive property and make home improvements), there doesn’t seem like much room for debate. Just look at the monthly payments on the four-bedroom home above; they are comparable to renting a renovated one-bedroom unit in the neighborhood. One more reason to buy: the constant influx of students makes renting your property an easy proposition if you want to move on but are not ready to sell.

See other articles related to: renting in dc, rent vs buy, dclofts, brookland

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rent_vs._buy_brookland/1804


  1. J T S said at 6:04 pm on Tuesday February 23, 2010:

    In addition, ABDO is doing a huge development at the Brookland metro. EYA has announced Chancellor Row a huge townhome development on the grounds of ST Pauls College. They posted a sign up and its on their web site.So better run to the area before prices sky rocket.

  1. Les said at 1:02 pm on Wednesday February 24, 2010:

    The listing at 1916 Newton Street NE is NOT in Brookland. It’s in Woodridge and is located opposite an Elementary School. Many homebuyers who come to Brookland are told by Real Estate Agents that a home is in Brookland when it is not. There really aren’t that many homes for sale in Brookland because it’s a very stable residential community. Most people who live there choose a home to live in and not for speculation which dominated the 00’s. Thank God the McMansion age is over for now!

  1. ingrid said at 2:04 pm on Wednesday February 24, 2010:

    Good artilce and comments. What about buying a condo in this area? Worth it? I wont be ready for a rowhouse for another 6-8 years. I have rented so long and it just seems to be a waste. Any thoughts appreciated.

  1. Blue said at 1:09 am on Thursday February 25, 2010:

    I bought a Brookland condo in this summer.  I love it - mostly because it’s mine and I have no upstairs neighbors.  It’s a quiet area, some parts seem quite suburban.  If you like to go out a lot you will have to metro, but the stop is very close.  My main dislikes: Yes! is the only market within walking distance and the nearest DC libraries are a hike.  Also, I’m hoping some of the more rundown/empty spots on 12TH will fill up with new businesses, like the Brookland Cafe.

    A coworker calls it the Forgotten Georgetown.  I love it here, but I wouldn’t go that far.  I’ll check back, so ask any questions, Ingrid.

  1. Les said at 8:51 am on Thursday February 25, 2010:

    There is going to be a glut of condos in the Brookland/Edgewood Area. The Abdo project at the Brookland metro is actually in the neighborhood called Edgewood. So is the EYA project. It’s much cheaper to live in Edgewood. Major shopping in Brookand can be done at the Giant at the Rhode Island Metro or the many large grocery stores just minutes away in Maryland. You can even walk or bike to the Giant/Home Depot using the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Ft. Totten has a surplus of new condos, so you can get a good deal there, too. Both Ft. Totten and Brookland are slated for large housing development projects. Being so close together, it will definitely be a buyers market in terms of getting really good deals at these two Metrorail stops.

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