“It just looked like it had a ton of potential,” he said.
Lisowski, an agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties, had four clients who felt the same way. He toured the house about a dozen times, including once with a contractor. Ten to 15 interested buyers and their brokers were in the house with him at any given time.
Given the amount of work the house needed, three of Lisowski’s clients chose not to bid. A fourth pair put in what Lisowski thought was a very aggressive offer that turned out to be $100,000 off the mark. (The name of the buyer won’t be known until the sale closes in mid-January.)
“The city is filled with people who are playing hardball after losing a few places” in bidding wars, said Lisowski’s business partner, Ty Voyles.
To be sure, the housing recovery has been uneven. In Northeast Washington, the boomlet has bypassed Benning Heights, Central Northeast and Deanwood. In the Zip code those neighborhoods share, 20019, the median sales price is down more than 7 percent from last year, and houses take more than three months, on average, to sell, RBI reported.
The foreclosure moratorium has helped prop up prices in the District by keeping foreclosures off the market, said George Rothman, president of the nonprofit housing developer Manna. It has also made it harder for organizations such as Manna to find properties to rehab and sell to lower-income buyers.
Bullish real estate agents say it is only a matter of time until those areas catch up as well. There is no talk of “bubbles” or fallout from a dive off the “fiscal cliff.” People are still moving to the Washington area, where the population grew by 122,000 from 2010 to 2011, Census Bureau data show.
The combination of high demand and low supply is pushing buyers priced out of the Atlas District, as H Street NE is also known, to the north and east. Investors and first-time buyers have descended on Orleans Place, a one-block street in Near Northeast that was once the home base of 1980s drug kingpin Rayful Edmonds III.
Not far from there, in Trinidad, a client of Voyles’s recently outbid seven others for a modest three-bedroom rowhouse. She prevailed by paying cash and going $8,000 above the $270,000 list price. Anacostia has become so popular with investors and first-time buyers, real estate agents say, that more people are starting to look in nearby Randle Highlands and Dupont Park.
The once-slumping condominium market is also coming back in areas such as Logan Circle in Northwest, where buyers have rushed the unfinished Northern Exchange building. Upscale apartment developer P.N. Hoffman is converting the 110-year-old former Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. building into 36 “micro lofts.” (Micro loft seems to be short for small and expensive.)
Prices range from the high $300,000s to the $800,000s for apartments that range from about 500 to 1,000 square feet. In recent months, Hoffman has been offering about eight units at a time — and selling out in about 90 minutes. About 400 people came to the most recent open house, and there is a waiting list for the larger penthouses.
Chief executive Monty Hoffman said the response to Northern Exchange shouldn’t surprise anyone, given its proximity to trendy bars and boutiques and its industrial-chic aesthetic. It is what people move to a city for.
“People prefer their homes and lifestyle to not be mass-produced,” he said, adding that Northern Exchange “has grit. People love authenticity.”
A suitably gritty and authentic abode still eludes Yousufzai, the systems engineer. He put in an offer on the Fourth Street NE house and came up $250,000 short.
In a way, he said, that lessened his disappointment.
“It is easier than if I had lost by $10,000,” he said.