The Search For DC’s Elusive $500,000 House

by UrbanTurf Staff

The result of increasing home prices in the DC area over the last couple years is that finding neighborhoods where you can still buy a move-in ready single-family home or row house in the city for around $500,000 is increasingly difficult.

So, at the request of several readers, UrbanTurf has picked out three neighborhoods in DC where it is still possible to purchase a detached or row house around this price point. We know that this list could be longer, but our three choices are based on criteria — attractive housing stock, relative proximity to downtown — spelled out by readers.

The Search For DC's Elusive $500,000 House: Figure 1

Michigan Park/North Michigan Park

The neighborhoods of Michigan Park and North Michigan Park sit to the north of their oft-mentioned neighbor Brookland in Northeast DC. As we noted in a 2012 profile, Michigan Park(s) is more modest and a bit slower than neighborhoods in upper NW. The housing stock consists largely of boxy, brick, semi-detached colonials.

But for anyone looking for a house in a modest price point, this is a good option. Both row houses and single-family homes in Michigan Park sold in the last year for about $350,000 to $550,000, while buyers got more of a discount if they headed further east to North Michigan Park. A look at 58 single-family home sales in the 20017 zip code in 2013 revealed a median sales price of $462,000, but when thinking of Michigan Park, that number should be discounted as it includes parts of Brookland.

In our research, homes on the lower end in these neighborhoods needed some work, but there were a number of houses priced right around $500,000 that had been renovated and were move-in ready. For example, the three-bedroom home on Webster Avenue pictured above sold for $454,000 in late November. The issue with Michigan Park is that homes don’t come on the market there as often as other DC neighborhoods, so inventory is usually pretty low.

The Search For DC's Elusive $500,000 House: Figure 2
Row houses on Bay Street in Hill East

Hill East

We include Hill East in this list, but only for two-bedroom row houses and a few three-bedrooms. There are plenty of row homes in the section of Capitol Hill east of 14th Street (dubbed Hill East a few years ago) that now reach into the $700,000s and $800,000s, but the neighborhood also has a number of smaller houses that sell right around the $500,000 range. There are even a few three-bedrooms — some renovated, some not — that sell for just above that range.

Here are a few examples:

  • A three-bedroom row house at 407 Kentucky Avenue SE recently sold for $516,000 after originally being listed for $499,000. The 1,200 square-foot home was in livable condition but in need of a series of upgrades.
  • A two-bedroom row house on 14th Street NE was listed for $479,000 a few weeks ago. It went under contract after about six days on the market.
  • This two-bedroom home that we covered last week was listed for $499,000 but recently went under contract for above the listing price.

The Search For DC's Elusive $500,000 House: Figure 3


A relatively quiet neighborhood above Missouri Avenue near DC’s northern tip, Brightwood has become an increasingly popular choice for DC’s budget-conscious house buyer. As a result, it has seen steady price increases over the last two years, and there aren’t an enormous pool of $500,000 houses available. But they can be found.

The housing stock consists of moderately-sized row houses, detached bungalows and colonials. The issue that exists in Brightwood that is more of a glaring problem for consumers than in the two neighborhoods above is that many of the homes available in the $500,000 price point are eyed by developers willing to put in aggressive cash offers. If you move up to $600,000, homes like the four-bedroom bungalow pictured above that sold in December for $605,000 become a more realistic option.

See other articles related to: dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_elusive_500000_house/8206


  1. DB said at 8:38 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    I was one of the readers that commented about putting an article like this together, so thanks for following through. I really like all the choices. I also agree with the point made in the Brightwood section. One of the difficulties finding a home in this price range now, and actually getting it, is that there are many all-cash, investors out there whose offers look way more attractive than mine.
  1. Lindsay Dreyer said at 8:53 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    So happy Brightwood is getting some props! It has great housing stock and won't break the bank. We have a listing at 705 Oglethorpe St NW that would be perfect for a non-investor looking to make their own updates.
  1. Jason said at 8:57 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    The elusive house in DC that is actually affordable by people in the 100k-200k income range, which btw is where most workers, government and civilian in DC will max out their earning potential. That would be considered well-off in almost any place but DC, SF, and NYC. It is incredible that 500k has become the low end of the purchase market. Even condos priced under 400k will end up with such outrageous condo fees that a 500k house is a better deal.
  1. JMartin said at 10:17 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    I would also add Hillcrest in SE. That neighborhood has even better value than the ones listed. Jusy my opinion...
  1. Chuck said at 10:40 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    I know it is not a defined neighborhood but Pleasant Hill (north of Catholic U and west of Brookland) is a hidden gem. It's between Brookland and Petworth so you are close to two of the hottest neighborhoods. You can take a walk through CUA's beautiful campus to get to the Metro or take the bus. Houses don't come on the market very often, but when they do, they are frequently in the 350K-450K range (3BR/2BA), renovated. Which is more than 100K less than what you are going to find in Petworth or Brookland.
  1. Brandon said at 11:21 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    +1 on Pleasant Hill! We bought a home on Hawaii Ave in 2012 and we love the neighborhood. We have an actual front and back yard! It's mostly families and is very quiet, but has easy access to Brookland, the new Monroe Street Market, Petworth, etc. I bike to work on the MBT almost every day.
  1. MC said at 5:10 pm on Friday March 7, 2014:
    These are great suggestions and I wish I had explored Pleasant Hill, Michigan Park and Brightwood during my search - beautiful housing stock indeed. I know I’ve seen other mentions before but what about Rosedale/ Kingman Park (north of Hill East) and even north of Benning Road - edge of Carver Langston/ Trinidad. Those areas still have their share of issues but it seems like houses are flying off of the market in the 400K - 500K range for renovated 3 bedroom homes.
  1. James said at 1:08 pm on Saturday March 8, 2014:
    "Hill East" is too isolated from the rest of the city, not nearly as walkable as the rest of the city (most people own cars and drive daily), and many portions of that part of the Hill are discounted for a reason.
  1. rg said at 12:11 am on Sunday March 9, 2014:
    Isolated and car-dependent? Huh. My wife and I have live in Hill East (Barney Circle actually) car-free for over five years. We are three blocks from two supermarkets, three blocks from two Metro stations, walking distance to 8th Street and Eastern Market, an easy bike or bus ride from H Street and my commute to work downtown is as easy as can be.(I even walk home from work sometimes. and my wife regularly walks to and from work in SW. Oh yeah, we also walk to and from Nats games and can crawl to DC United games. I felt more isolated when I lived in the NE part of Capitol Hill. Of course, H Street was not quite what it is now, but it was a schlep to the supermarket and relying on the D6 Bus was no fun. Indeed, if anything ultimately spurred our move, it was the unreliability of the D6 bus!
  1. Judith said at 3:59 pm on Sunday March 9, 2014:
    As we go from Chocolate City to Vanilla City ( with a few chocolate chips)how do real estate companies work these deals? There was a time when real estate speculators made an offer to an owner of say $30/ $50 or $70,000.00 All Cash- or if you hold some paper, we will pay you a smaller sum of money once a month and in the end you might have $100,000.00 - Seller Beware? How about some answers about how these deals are done today?
  1. Cynde T said at 5:24 pm on Sunday March 9, 2014:
    The Woodridge community, zip code 20018, also sells 3+ bedroom, fully renovated with off-street parking homes just under $499,500. Most with large front and rear yards.
  1. John Schuettinger said at 8:51 pm on Sunday March 9, 2014:
    I second the Woodridge comment. We bought a 2-1 in 2008 renovated it to a 3-2. I have a nice sized front yard and a football field sized back yard. 2 blocks off Rhode Island Ave, which was recently given a DC Great Streets grant. and the Costco development is only a 5 minute drive away. Woodridge is the best kept secret in DC. Come join us.

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