2005 Real Estate Housing Outlook

The District

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The median price for single-family homes and townhouses in the District rose only slightly last year, increasing 1.9 percent on average, although some neighborhoods saw much steeper increases.

The median sales price of a townhouse or single-family in the District was $316,000 last year, compared with $310,000 in 2003, according to statistics based on D.C. records. The District provided sales records only through November 2004; in those 11 months, 2,903 houses were sold, compared with 3,653 in all of 2003.

Condominiums, a popular form of housing in the Distrct, were not included in the statistics. A separate analysis of condo sales records showed that prices for those units increased more dramatically, rising 22.1 percent, to $264,900.

Among neighborhoods with more than a handful of house sales, Zip code 20003, which is mostly the southern portion of Capitol Hill, saw the sharpest price increase -- 22.3 percent, to $428,200 from $350,000.

"Capitol Hill had a scarcity of inventory," said Keene Taylor Jr., an associate broker with Taylor Long & Foster in Chevy Chase D.C.

In Zip code 20009, which includes Adams Morgan, Kalorama and Dupont Circle, prices rose 21.4 percent to $595,000. In Zip code 20001, which includes the Shaw area near the Washington Convention Center, part of the U Street corridor and the area near Howard University, prices rose 19.8 percent, to $315,000. In neighboring Zip code 20010, which includes Columbia Heights, the price of houses was up slightly, to $295,000 from $285,000.

"In Columbia Heights, part of the area near Howard University and Ledroit Park, you've got pretty housing stock that's close in and all of a sudden people who say they wouldn't have felt safe there a few years ago are now going in and buying there," said Connie Maffin, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker.

On the eastern side of the Anacostia River, prices rose in some areas where they had long been depressed.

"East of the river was the best-kept secret," said Darrin Davis, a real estate agent with Prudential Carruthers Realtors who specializes in Anacostia. "But now it's the only affordable area in the city."

However, Zip code 20020, which is east of the river, was one of the few areas in the District where the median price fell, to $150,000 from $167,000, a 10.2 percent drop. One reason for the drop, some real estate agents said, is that some houses in neighborhoods such as Barry Farms and parts of Randall Heights are not selling at prices as high as those in other portions of the Zip code, such as historic Anacostia and Hillcrest.

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