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

  • March 6, 2014

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.

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

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