Housing Outlook 2006

Washington, D.C.

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park caught the eye of D.C. home buyers in a big way last year, pushing the city's median housing price 29 percent higher to $412,000.

That gain, which was calculated based on a Washington Post analysis of government sales records of single-family houses and townhouses, outpaced those in both Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland.

Condominiums were not included in the statistics. A separate analysis of D.C. condo sales showed a more modest price increase of 12 percent.

The most dramatic housing price increases in the District came in Zip code 20010, an area that includes the neighborhoods of Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant. There, prices jumped a whopping 63 percent, lifting the median sales price to $487,900.

Other neighborhoods east of Rock Creek Park showed substantial gains as well. Trinidad, Eckington and the rest of Zip code 20002, for instance, notched a 46 percent increase in prices.

The average price for a house in Zip code 20001, which includes Shaw and LeDroit Park, rose to $424,000, a 33 percent increase over 2004.

And in the Northeast D.C. zip code of 20017, home to Brookland, the median price was up 45 percent to $333,000.

"These are wonderful neighborhoods. But they weren't known before to people just coming to the city," said Long & Foster agent Denise Champion, who has been selling homes in the District for more than three decades. "I had people coming to my open houses saying, 'Where am I?' "

Some of Washington's most famous neighborhoods -- many of them west of Rock Creek Park -- experienced more muted price gains. Zip code 20008, home of Woodley Park and Cleveland Park, saw prices that were 15 percent higher than a year ago, bringing the median to $1.15 million.

In Georgetown, Glover Park and other parts of Zip code 20007, the median price was up 15 percent to $900,000.

Champion said that with many people priced out of those areas, they began looking east and found neighborhoods that are starting to teem with condo conversions, upscale retail developments and floor-to-ceiling rehab projects.

"People got on the bandwagon of these new opportunities," she said.

Some people, too, looked east of the Anacostia River and found the city's lowest housing prices -- but ones that are rapidly escalating. Zip code 20020, which includes the neighborhood of Anacostia, saw the median price hit $200,000 following a 31 percent increase.

In Deanwood and the rest of Zip code 20019, the median price climbed 44 percent to $180,000.

The 2005 numbers for the District are based on sales through November because the District does not yet have December records available.

The first 11 months of 2005 saw 3,513 houses sold overall, compared with 3,408 for all of 2004.

Real estate agents reported that sales volumes and price increases in the District were concentrated in the first half of the year, before the market slowed down around the region in the fall.

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