UrbanTurf Reader Asks: Should I Buy a Rowhouse in Mount Pleasant or Petworth?

by Mark Wellborn

Mount Pleasant Rowhouses by NCinDC

In this week’s installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader who is in the market for a row house wonders if she should sacrifice space and price for convenience by buying in Mount Pleasant over Petworth.

“I admit that this could be an annoying question for some, but I am having a lot of trouble deciding between whether to buy a row house in Petworth or in Mount Pleasant. The pros of Petworth are more space for your money and probably a little more upside for resale value in 3-5 years given the increased development going on in the neighborhood. Mount Pleasant is slightly more expensive, but has a little more character and is more centrally located. I know that this decision also boils down to which neighborhood I like more, but quite honestly, I like them both equally. Thanks for your input.

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, petworth, mount pleasant, home buying

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_should_i_buy_a_rowhouse_in_mount_pleasant_or_petworth/1522


  1. MP Resident said at 12:42 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Mount Pleasant. I think it is perhaps the best neighborhood in DC for young homebuyers.

  1. ScienceClub said at 1:20 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Petworth may soon be just as lively as Mount Pleasant and you can pay less for a home that will show more return on your investment in a couple years. So I say Petworth.

  1. Darnell said at 1:25 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    The answer to this question is fairly straightforward.  You’ll pay $200,000 less for an equivalent house in Petworth, but the tradeoff for your 200k is less certainty about the neighborhood. If Petworth takes off in 5-10 years you’ll be in great shape.  If not, you’ll be better off in Mt Pleasant.  If you like both equally, it’s really about whether you want to take the gamble on higher upside.

  1. Paul said at 2:27 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Really depends where in Petworth. If it’s by the Petworth metro I can understand why you’re struggling with the decision. If it’s further north than Varnum then the decision for Mt Pleasant should be much easier.

  1. Lauren said at 3:28 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Houses in Mt P are quite a bit more expensive and in 5 years Petworth may well have nearly as much to offer in terms of shops, restaurants, etc. And if Metro-accessibility is important to you, then the specific block is probably more important to consider - there are parts of Mt P that are pretty far from the Metro. If schools are important then Mt P might be worth it (I think it’s in the Wilson HS district) but otherwise, I think Petworth is a better value. I mean, why would you pay $200k more for a comparable house if you like the neighborhoods equally well?

  1. Jason said at 3:55 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    I seriously doubt the reader is considering two houses that are 200K apart in price. Let’s not take the little embellishment introduced by Darnell and run with it as an actual fact of the case at hand…

  1. SimonF said at 4:22 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Lets also not overstate the trajectory of housing prices in Petworth. There will be a fairly significant price difference between these two neighborhoods for years, which is a strong reason to buy in MP.

  1. PetworthRes said at 5:54 pm on Tuesday November 17, 2009:

    Well, I really wanted to buy a rowhouse in Mount Pleasant, but at the time rowhouses in Mt. Pleasant were $650-900K and in Petworth they were $350K to 550K. I bought in Petworth because it was the most affordable neighborhood that reminded me of Mt. Pleasant, where even the cheapest houses were way outside my price range.

    So if you can afford to buy in Mt. Pleasant go ahead and do that, it’s a great neighborhood. But I really have trouble imagining someone who could afford to buy in both places struggling with the decision. I can see Mt. Pleasant vs. Columbia Heights and Petworth vs. Brookland or Shaw, but Petworth and Mt. Pleasant are in totally different categories.

    Re: SimonF’s comment - “There will be a fairly significant price difference between these two neighborhoods for years, which is a strong reason to buy in MP.” My response is there’s a lot more room for upward mobility in Petworth and I think it’s undervalued. I think it’s more a question of what you want now vs. potential for the future. I think in Petworth you have the potential to gain from both the market strengthening and the neighborhood changing, while in Mt. Pleasant the increased prices mark a neighborhood that most people think has already “arrived.”

  1. usamj said at 12:18 am on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    buy in columbia heihts, best of both

  1. Sally said at 10:16 am on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    I think the reader’ issue is whether she is more interested in saving money on a home that could be worth something down the line versus paying top dollar (which she probably has) for a home in an established area like Mt. Pleasant. That said, I am with the Petworth detractors here. I think the neighborhood has a ways to go until property values start really increasing.

  1. Lauren said at 10:51 am on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    To me the issue isn’t about potential appreciation - I mean, sure it’s nice to see something you own go up in value but is that really the main point of buying a house? But the person asking the question said she liked the neighborhoods “equally well” and since houses in Petworth are quite a bit cheaper, why wouldn’t she buy there? I mean, even if she can afford Mount Pleasant, isn’t it nice to not have a huge % of your paycheck eaten up by your mortgage? And to the person questioning whether it’s really a $200k difference - it is when you compare apples to apples - as an example a renovated 3br within .5 mile of the Metro would be $700k in MtP and $500k in Petworth.

  1. Jay said at 12:44 pm on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    Why not try Sixteenth Street Heights?  Some houses are as large or larger than in Mt. Pleasant, it has a slightly more suburban feel, and is as equally convenient, tho’ Metro is a bit of a hike.  Killer bus lines on 14th & 16th St.  Close to Rock Creek Park.  Lower crime than Petworth.  Boundaries are 16th St to the west, Arkansas to the south, 14th St. to the east, and Kennedy to the north.  Three very active neighborhood associations are in that area, too.

  1. Beth said at 6:11 pm on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    I have lived in Petworth for several years and the amount of growth I have seen in just the past 6 months is huge. The areas closest to the metro are your best bet and will easily outpace any home in Mt Pleasant as far as increase in value over the next 3 to 5 years.  Mt Pleasant has no metro and that is an issue for a lot of buyers.  Values in Mt Pleasant do not have as much room to grow and there is very little that is going to change in that neighborhood.  Petworth is one of the few neighborhoods that is actually seeing new business and development happening.  I would go with Petworth.

  1. Petworthrest2 said at 10:11 pm on Wednesday November 18, 2009:

    Go with Petworth.  Larger homes, smaller mortgage, greater potential and soon enough much more convenient.  Tons of individuals just like you are moving in.

  1. paul said at 6:38 am on Thursday November 19, 2009:

    are you serious? MP wins hands down. Petworth is just too dangerous!

  1. rocketnerd said at 5:48 pm on Thursday November 19, 2009:

    As someone who has recently rented in Mt Pleasant and purchased in Petworth, I feel my opinion is a fair one.

    Mt Pleasant is a gorgeous, cloistered neighborhood. It has decent bus access, and is (mostly) within manageable walking distance to metro.  In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Georgetown. 

    Petworth is a neighborhood on the rise.  Development on Georgia Ave, which was non-existent for deacdes, is now booming. The extension of the yellow line metro a few years back significantly increased its ease of accessibility.  Violent crime has continued to seem to be more of a problem than other parts of NW in recent history.

    The prices reflect the state of gentrification
    in both neighborhoods.  Whereas I had a variety of good 3-4 BR options in my price range in Petworth (500ish), the only things in my price range in Mt P were either rowhouse shells (which were actually closer to 600) or tiny places right off of 16th St that offered little more room than a 2BR condo.

    So, to repeat what others have said…if you can afford Mt. P, it’s a great neighborhood now - but don’t expect huge investment potential.  If you need more space or want a lot more bang for your buck, and can deal with
    some transitional pains…Petworth is the place for you.

  1. Georgetowner said at 3:05 pm on Monday November 23, 2009:

    well if you like the neighborhoods equally, then go with the cheaper option.

    personally, I prefer Mt Pleasant over Petworth for 2 reasons: it’s pretty and the crime is not so high.

  1. Sleepy said at 2:37 pm on Friday December 4, 2009:

    Have any of you people actually read MPD crime stats? Mount Pleasant is way more dangerous than Petworth. Petwroth gets a bad rep because Black people live there. And for too many people black=crime. But if you actually look at the stats, lots more robberies and violent crimes in MP.

  1. Sleepy said at 2:41 pm on Friday December 4, 2009:

    And don’t forget, if you like both neighborhoods, each one is just a short H8 bus ride away.

  1. newpetworth said at 2:58 pm on Friday December 4, 2009:

    I recently purchased in Petworth, having found a terrific rowhouse as a result of relaxing my criteria on location. It’s all about the trade-offs. I’ve lived in Columbia Heights for over five years, just before the big changes started (the new Giant, Wonderland, Red Rocks, Target…) It’s no news to anyone that CH has significantly changed in that time, but to see it first hand has been an education. I remember reviewing the city’s CH development plan online years ago, and having revisited that plan it appears much of that has been realized. Now I see the same movement on Georgia Ave. And pockets all over DC that were once dead are now defining interesting—a province once held exclusively by the somewhat overrated corridors of Dupont Circle, Mt. Pleasant, and Adams Morgan. Aside from the house, what drew me into Petworth was the quiet, residential streets that kept me close enough (but not too close) to the action. And for all the talk about crime, I compared my current CH address to PW, and found my CH address experienced 5 times the number of crime incidents in the past year. Violent crimes are proportionetly higher in PW, which is what likely contributes to its scarier rep, but not greater in number. In fact, they matched addresses in Dupont Circle. So do your homework, trust your gut, and figure out what matters to you the most. What other people say gives you some sense of market buzz, but this decision is yours.

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