Row Houses and Rock Creek: DC’s Hottest Housing Market

by Mark Wellborn

Row Houses and Rock Creek: DC's Hottest Housing Market: Figure 1
A home in Mount Pleasant

In the current housing market, almost every neighborhood in DC has homes that garner multiple offers and sell for above their asking price. But Mount Pleasant is in a class of its own.

UrbanTurf is not prone to hyperbole, but the neighborhood adjacent to Rock Creek Park bordering Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights is the most competitive neighborhood housing market in the city right now.

First, the data. In 2013, homes on the market in Mount Pleasant have averaged just six days on the market, the lowest level for any neighborhood in DC. The average sale to list price ratio stands at 107% for the year, and last month, it was 110%. This means that more often than not, homes fetch 10% above their list price. While the average list price in June was approximately $899,000, the average sale price was $80,000 higher ($980,163).

Just a few examples of properties that have sold in recent months that illustrate these numbers:

  • 1735 Hobart Street NW was listed in May for $750,000 and sold last week for $911,500 after receiving over 10 offers.
  • 2011 Klingle Road NW was listed for $879,000 and sold for $996,000 after a bidding war.
  • 3136 17th Street NW was listed for $795,000 last month, and while it has yet to settle, we hear it received 14 offers and went well into the $900,000s.
  • One commenter on a recent UrbanTurf article wrote that a home in the neighborhood saw its sale price escalate $206,000 above asking.

“It’s pretty astonishing,” Rob Low of Long & Foster, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, told UrbanTurf. “But, frankly, the market in the neighborhood has been this way for awhile.” Low noted that all of the homes his team has listed so far this year have resulted in multiple offer situations and sold for above the asking price.

“People who won most of the bidding wars remove the inspection and financing contingencies,” Low said. “Buyers are coming in and writing checks for 7-figure properties. I have seen this three times this year.”

The allure of Mount Pleasant has remained fairly constant over the years. It is a self-contained neighborhood near downtown and a variety of transportation lines with a solidly preserved housing stock. But in the last 12-18 months, many house hunters have begun limiting their housing search solely to Mount Pleasant.

Chris Kurz and Mine Senses fit that bill. The couple began looking back in 2007 before the downturn and then resumed their search in early 2012. Between mid-2012 and the end of the year, they wrote offers on three houses, all in Mount Pleasant, and lost out on each. In one instance, a listing received 20 offers. In another, the buyer came to the table with all cash. When they made their fourth offer in February on a house on Adams Mill Road, they came prepared.

“We removed all the contingencies except for financing, wrote in a 20-day settlement date and had an inspector ready to do a pre-inspection,” Kurz said. “We realized we needed to become more competitive based on previous experience.”

Kurz and his wife went under contract on the house three days after it hit the market and now happily call it home. Unfortunately, Kurz explained, their friends now face the current reality of the market.

“They are looking in the neighborhood and the multiple offer situations and competition have only seemed to dramatically intensify over the past few months.”

See other articles related to: mount pleasant, dclofts, dc's hottest housing market

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/mount_pleasant_dcs_hottest_housing_market/7253


  1. KL said at 7:04 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    My husband and I have been looking in Mount Pleasant for the last nine months. In the last four, the level of competition has gotten out of control. We have placed offers on four houses and lost out on each to bids that went significantly higher than the asking price. In addition to everything in this article, I would echo that if you don’t come to the table with all cash and are willing to go well above ask, you should start looking in another neighborhood.
  1. Ben said at 7:21 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    I am in the same boat as KL. Have been looking for 5 months and made three offers that were all beat out. I have adjusted my thinking somewhat to come in at a high price point from the start, but when homes start selling for $100,000 above ask, I can’t compete so I've started looking elsewhere.
  1. Josh said at 7:27 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    The neighborhood is terrific, and it still has a lot of heavy fixer-uppers. If you can deal with the hassle and risk of bringing a creaky place up to snuff, there are some beautiful houses to be had affordably in MtP.
  1. mona said at 7:31 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    Well if things are going 100k over asking and you can't afford more then say 800k start by looking and offering on 700k homes, that way your in a position to take the leap. Now if there are no 700k homes in the area your looking at then you may have to look else where. When it comes to the Victorian style homes like you find in Mount Pleasant the only other place I can think of that have that style home is maybe Bloomingdale and Capitol Hill. I think a 700k home on the hill is out of the question unless you want a very nice shoebox and Bloomingdale is extremely nice neighborhood but hardly anyone is selling in the neighborhood and when they do they go fast and over asking, not 100k over, but over.
  1. ARE said at 7:59 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    Come up to Petworth...the water is warm and we'd love to have more great neighbors! We just bought in May and faced insane competition throughout the 5-month process, even in Truxton Circle, where we put our first offer in January. I would have loved a place in Mt. P too, but we simply did not have the budget for it--even the fixer uppers. After MUCH searching, we narrowed our sights on the Petworth/Brightwood Park area, where we enjoy a spacious home, big shady trees, beautiful gardens, friendly neighbors, a parking pad plus AS MUCH ON STREET PARKING as we need...though I'm still able to take the bus to my office downtown. After living in Adams Morgan for several years, i thought the move up north would kill me, but I'm a happy gal.
  1. SL said at 8:21 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    I'm another Mt. Pleasant fan who bought in Petworth, in 2005. In my 8 years there the area has changed drastically, crime is way down, amenities are way up, and there are a ton of 30- and 40-something couples with young kids, like us. Prices are increasing very quickly as well, but you can still get a fixer upper in the 300s or 400s, and a renovated house in the 500s to 600s.
  1. Shaw Man said at 9:27 pm on Thursday June 27, 2013:
    I think Shaw is killing it right now. I would love to see the same analysis for the recent sales in the 20001 near NJ Ave to say 9th or 101th and between K and RI Ave.
  1. More like Mt. Zzzzz said at 12:17 am on Friday June 28, 2013:
    I fail to see the million-dollar appeal of Mt. P (and I live there). You can walk to other neighborhoods, which is fitting because you'll never want to move your car once you found a parking spot. The "village" is a random assortment of junk shops, Salvadoran-style Mexican food, and random bars. If I had "in the $900,000s" to spend on housing, it would NOT be east of Rock Creek, except for Crestwood or North Portal.
  1. Jame said at 7:40 am on Friday June 28, 2013:
    Completely agree with Zzzzz. People bent on buying in MP have their reasons, but for that price level, no way would I look east of the Park.
  1. anonnn said at 5:42 pm on Friday June 28, 2013:
    Obviously money is speaking, but I just don't get it. At those prices, you can buy almost anywhere in the city. Isn't this neighborhood sort of dangerous? Isn't it slightly inconvenient? ...especially at these price points? I'm really curious to see what will happen to this neighborhood in a few years. I have a feeling that people are going to realize they overpaid because they wanted to win the bidding war.
  1. kelly said at 8:44 pm on Friday June 28, 2013:
    MtP's popularity is a mixed blessing. Those of us who invested way back when are thrilled to see our neighbors' houses selling for what they are. At the same time, we're saddened that so many people are priced out of our great neighborhood. These homes selling for 800, 900 thousand are not huge; they're first time homebuyer or new family homes, but who in those demographics can afford that? I have to echo an earlier comment: if I had $900k to drop on a house, it would not be in Mt P. And I live here!
  1. C said at 7:04 pm on Saturday June 29, 2013:
    This is somewhat interesting. DC's housing market, overall, seems to be pretty hot right now. I'd like to know why Mt. Pleasant is especially so - is it determined by number of days on market, that a house receives multiple offers, that a place sells for xyz more than the abc sales price? I suppose when it gets the superlative of being the hottest neighborhood for housing, that it's being compared to all other neighborhoods in DC. If this is the case, then I wonder what it is about other neighborhoods that might explain why Mt. Pleasant is so hot. I'm not saying that Mt. Pleasant isn't worth the hype and desirability that it's appearing to have right now but sometimes a superlative is achieved because of things more to do with what is or is lacking in other neighborhoods at the same time. For example, if a particular neighborhood is hot (e.g., Logan Circle) but homes are not selling in record number and flying off the shelves at break-neck speed, could it be that not many homes are even on the market and that could explain for a poor-showing; whereas, say homes in Petworth or Bloomingdale or Mt. Pleasant might have a better showing because there is more inventory, many of the homes don't break the million-dollar mark and are more accessible to more buyers. Interested to know what specifics have put Mt. Pleasant in the hottest housing market category in DC right now. That would be helpful and probably more indicative to explain why it appears to be. I know that Mt. Pleasant is generally pretty desirable as friends who are in the market have considered Mt. Pleasant. There are some pretty homes in the neighborhood. At the same time, I'm a little surprised because it has had issues with crime, while the location is pretty good, there are neighborhoods that I think are more convenient to downtown, mass transit. If you also think about location, location, location - I guess I can think of neighborhoods that seem to have more to offer in the way of shops, grocery stores, restaurants, bars before I would think of Mt. Pleasant. For example, Logan Circle, Penn Quarter, Chinatown, even Dupont and U Street, and H Street NE. Interesting, though, for sure.
  1. Josh said at 3:02 pm on Monday July 1, 2013:
    @C, MtP is hot for the following reasons: - It's in the Deal/Wilson school zone. MtP is one of the few east-of-the-park neighborhoods in zone for the west-of-the-park middle and high schools. - It’s full of 100-year-old beautiful Victorian homes. - It's close in. Walking distance to Adams Morgan, Columbia heights, U street, and a quick bikeride or busride to Dupont or downtown. Most of the neighborhood is 10 minutes from the metro. - You can do your errands on foot: It's walking distance to grocery stores, restaurants, dry cleaners, coffee shops, the farmers market, church, synagogue, etc. - It's next to the Zoo and Rock Creek Park, which is nice for runners and bikers. - It's an isolated neighborhood that doesn't get much through traffic. Only two east-west through streets go through MtP; no north-south traffic goes through the neighborhood. - It's a pretty safe neighborhood with a strong sense of community. And they have the best trick-or-treating in the DMV. - And it's diverse. Some people like living in a community where not everyone looks like them.
  1. Curious said at 3:39 pm on Sunday June 30, 2013:
    I don't understand if the average selling price is 10%higher than list, doesn't that indicate that the list prices should increase? What is the advantage of pricing the house so low tO begin with? Is it an advantage to the seller or to the agent? Because it cannot have any advantage to the buyer.
  1. Robert said at 5:48 pm on Monday July 1, 2013:
    For those who say they'd be looking west of the park rather than Mt Pleasant at that price point, you have not been paying attention to housing prices. Homes west of the park go for more money per square foot than the homes in Mt Pleasant. Additionally, many of the homes in Mt Pleasant are easily adapted to include a basement rental, which allows the owner to go for more house since they can pretty much bank on that rental income. I would guess that the present of such a strong basement rental market in Mt Pleasant as contributed to the rapid rise in home values. Mount Pleasant street has definitely not reached its commercial potential but probably will in due time. If it doesn't then Cleveland Park, Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan are just a short walk/bike ride away.
  1. Rob C said at 8:02 pm on Monday July 1, 2013:
    I live in Mt P and look at real estate as a hobby. One thing to note about the % over asking price is that Rob and Linda Low have a large percent of the sales in Mt Pleasant (I recently had a mailer from them that stated I believe about 50% of sales in My P). They almost always under price their homes to drive traffic to their properties and create multiple offer situations. It seems to work quite well for them.
  1. C said at 9:19 pm on Monday July 1, 2013:
    Josh, I think some of your points are interesting, most specifically your point about schools. I don't agree that Mt. P is full of Victoria homes; most of what I see are Wardman or Row/Townhouses. But there are some homes that are pretty. I don't have a problem with Mt. P being the hottest housing market in DC now, am just curious as to know how the Urban Turf Editors arrived at this conclusion. As I asked originally, what metrics they used would help me more to indicate its status as a hot housing market. As I said before, sometimes it's the lack of something in another hot neighborhood (e.g., lack of inventory, lack of under million-dollar homes or whatever might be the metric) that could also explain why Mt. P is so hot right now. Thanks, though, for you input on various points of what make Mt. P appealing.
  1. Mick Mouse said at 3:39 am on Tuesday July 2, 2013:
    C, The author isn't very clear on his methods, but he appears to use days on market as the leading criterion. Maybe the only one? Or with sale:list ratio? The synonymous use of "average" and "more often than not" suggests a more casual analysis, anyway. Meanwhile, you are correct on architectural styles. There are some Victorian homes in the neighborhood, but more are Georgian. (Neither of these is incompatible with row construction; Wardman refers to a builder and one of his most common designs, but it is not a very specific term as he built many styles from narrow rowhouses, to apartment buildings, to hotels.) Since you raise the lack of inventory as a possible factor in hotness, I think that's probably one of the key factors in MtP. There are not many homes on the market, and relative to that there are many buyers. I would be interested to know more, though. For instance, in a MtP transaction, how many people come to the open house, how many offers are registered, and how have these indicators changed over time? Right now we know demand for property is high, but we do not know how deep. We would also want to take into account property price, size, and so on when making comparisons. As for what I find appealing about MtP, one is that it is east of the park. Some folks like the suburban feel of CP, but I prefer MtP. I prefer the economic and ethnic diversity, even though it seems that both of these are decreasing. I also prefer the housing stock in MtP. There are some nice streets in Woodley, but overall, I like MtP. Folks who want large lawns or detached homes have few options here, and would most likely want another neighborhood. Walking to Target is very convenient. The main commercial strip could certainly be improved, but it is handy for small errands. The bus and metro access is hard to beat, too, and the proximity to the park and downtown are a winning combination in my book.
  1. Curious said at 1:12 pm on Tuesday July 2, 2013:
    @RobC: thanks for the response. Underpricing seems like it is not that uncommon around here. I think it is shady and can't imagine why it's not discouraged. (look what happens when a legitimate store tries the same tactic! I think I would cap the pricing agent's commission to the listed amount. It would promote honesty in dealing with the public. To me this is willful and shameless misrepresentation and should not be rewarded. What's the harm? Aside from encouraging a general level of dishonesty in the real estate profession, it seems to be aimed at people who otherwise would not consider that price range to be within their reach.
  1. C said at 3:51 pm on Tuesday July 2, 2013:
    Mick Mouse, I appreciate your thoughtful and expansive reply. I am hoping that the Urban Turf Editors will come back and talk more about their methodology and other questions that you raised (e.g., "how many people come to the open house, how many offers are registered, and how have these indicators changed over time? Right now we know demand for property is high, but we do not know how deep. We would also want to take into account property price, size, and so on when making comparisons."). You raise a lot of good points.
  1. mona said at 6:23 pm on Wednesday July 3, 2013:
    I find the comments about east of the park interesting. The area in the immediate west area of the park is Forrest Hills in the 20008 zip code. It is the most expensive area in the city even over Georgetown. You can't get a garage for 900k over there. I think most people have given up the notion of East and West of the park. Especially when you have places like Bloomingdale and Logan and Capitol Hill all east of the park. I am seeing homes in Brookland going well into the 700k and fast approaching 800k and some of those neighborhoods and homes are to die for. The city use to have borders like the park, then it was 16th st, then it was Georgia ave and now it is any where in NW and even that has changed with the development by Jim Abdo around Catholic University and Brookland. There has even been a purchase in Bloomingdale of 1.3 million for a great corner Victorian. I think a lot of the old thoughts of East of the park and West of the park have fallen to the side and anyone who is still in that mode tends to live on the west side and doesn't wonder over to the east of the park or someone who longs to live on the west side and what it use to represent.
  1. AP said at 8:06 pm on Wednesday July 3, 2013:
    The commenter who suggested the asking prices should go up is right on the mark. Rob and Linda Low are the agents for most sales in the neighborhood. When my neighbor recently asked them about pricing, they suggested an asking figure that was far below the market value. He insisted that they ask tens of thousands more, and the house sold for another $100k higher.
  1. DCJNELL said at 12:37 pm on Thursday July 4, 2013:
    Here's my crazy theory, as a person lucky enough to get into the hood two years ago before it went crazy. (But only after Rob and Linda Low tricked us out of a few houses...) It's porches, baby. There's probably not one neighborhood in DC with so many porches, and porches make for a friendly neighborhood and bigger feeling houses. And from those porches, you're often gazing at leafy surroundings, the Cathedral, etc. It's a little thing, but I think the impact is big. Oh, and the houses are bigger, prettier and often less messed with by modernizing flippers (hi, Columbia Heights!) than other neighborhoods. And unlike Capitol Hill, where we also looked, you usually get one or two good sized bedrooms. We looked at 70 houses three years ago, and all the contracts we wrote were in Mt. P. It really is that special.
  1. mzs said at 5:04 pm on Tuesday July 9, 2013:
    @Curious: The selling agents duty is to get the highest price possible for the seller as he/she is representing the interests of the seller. In an up market, auctions are the best way to get the highest price for the seller and multiple bids, by forcing the potential buyers into revealing their maximum willingness to pay, gets the seller the best price. In a regular market this is a risky strategy since if someone offers the (low) asking price, the owner has to accept the offer. For the record, we just bought our first house couple of months ago and lost multiple houses in auction situations. It sucked- but I don't understand why anyone would consider this as a 'shady'/'dishonest'/'shady' practice- markets unfortunately don't deliver 'fair' outcomes, they deliver 'efficient' outcomes. And a small note on linda and rob- they were our buyers agent and we dealt with them multiple times as the sellers agent. Their practice is far from being shady- they are VERY professional and the reason they sell over 50% of the houses in MtP is because they do their job very well!
  1. C said at 8:08 pm on Tuesday July 9, 2013:
    mzs, let's not fool ourselves: the agent isn't only interested in getting the highest price possible for the seller, as the agent is representing the interests of the seller. Let's not forget--the agent receives a commission. The higher the sale price, the higher commission. The incentive is not wholly altruistic.
  1. mzs said at 8:39 pm on Tuesday July 9, 2013:
    @C: of course the incentive is not altruistic- it never is when you're talking about most markets. The real estate agent gets a share of the sales price to make sure his/her incentives are fully aligned with that of the seller (who they represent). What might be considered unfair could be the constant percent agent fee when house prices are increasing at this rate- not the way this market works, which is designed to match the highest paying bidder with the seller. You can call this unfair (as it prices out low income families and ask the government to provide more low income housing in these communities), you can call this annoying (as you have to experience losing houses you thought you might have gotten based on asking price) but I think its not fair to call the practice dishonest or shady when this is how virtually all markets work.
  1. C said at 3:40 pm on Wednesday July 10, 2013:
    mzs, just to be clear - I am not the same poster as "Curious," who is the one that wondered whether or not this practice is shady or unfair. Don't confuse us, we are not the same. I never have said that this practice is unfair or shady. I am very well aware of bidding wars/escalation clauses in RE contracts, and understand very well why and when it is done. I was only responding to where you had said that the agents responsibility is representing the seller, which is, in part, true. I'm not sure why you would say the constant percent agent fee might be considered unfair. A seller enters into an agreement with the agent knowing what the agent percent fee is; you accept this when you enter into the agreement of hiring the agent.

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