So just what will $105,000 buy in the Washington housing market?
Give or take a little, it will buy a three-story town house in western Rockville, a 30-year-old, three-bedroom home south of Alexandria in Fairfax County or a one-bedroom cooperative apartment in the Kalorama neighborhood of the District.
The U.S. League of Savings Institutions, in a recent study, found $105,000 to be the median house price in the Washington area last year. Half of the homes here cost more, half cost less. Numerous homes in the Washington area cost about $105,000, but an informal Washington Post survey shows wide disparity in the region on how much house that sum will buy.
Start our house-looking tour in western Rockville, on Muddy Branch Road, at the Stonebridge town-house development, where the new three-story attached Cambridge model is priced at $105,600 and offers three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms.
A 30-year, 9.9 percent fixed-rate mortgage is available for the remaining models in the new subdivision, built by Winchester Homes, a subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Co. The complex, part of a bustling area that includes at least eight other nearby developments, is about two miles from I-270 and five miles from the Shady Grove Metro station.
"This is about the furthest the buyers choose to go from Washington , yet find it affordable," said the project's sales manager, Michael Kingsley. He said buyers also "like becoming part of a growing neighborhood that has a lot to offer."
The subdivision has four tennis courts, a soccer and The U.S. League of Savings Institutions, in a recent study, found $105,000 to be the median house price in the Washington area last year.ball field, and plans to complete a three-acre lake, swimming pool and clubhouse next summer. Taxes for the 2,200-square-foot unit total about $1,470 annually. A $28 monthly fee includes trash removal and lawn mowing. Public schools are about 2 1/2 miles away.
The $105,600 Cambridge model includes carpeting, wood cabinets, double-paned sliding doors leading to an optional deck, garbage disposal, dishwasher, electric oven with matching range/hood, an electric heat pump that also provides central air conditioning, external brick facing and landscaping. As with most town houses, there is only a small yard.
The first floor includes a step-down 11-by-14-foot living room, a 10-by-10 dining room overlooking the living room and a large 19-by-10 kitchen. On the second level is a master bedroom measuring 16-by-14 with a full bath, and two smaller bedrooms. The basement includes a 19-by-13 finished recreation room, with a fireplace as an option, as well as a storage/laundry room.
The town house also boasts a 10-year warranty against major structural damage, low-sound-transmission walls and what the builder describes as energy-efficient construction. R-values, which indicate how well a structure holds heat, measure R-30 in the ceilings and R-13 in the walls.
For others, however, owning an older, detached home with more land in a developed neighborhood is important for a $105,000 investment.
Across town, for a bit more, $109,000, a 30-year-old, three-bedroom house on about a quarter-acre of land is available at 6503 Dorset Dr., south of Alexandria in Fairfax County. A red-brick, detached rambler with a fenced-in backyard, the 2,000-square-foot house is part of a developed neighborhood within a couple of miles of public schools, shops and the Huntington Metro station. Taxes last year ran $1,115. An 11 1/2 percent assumable VA mortgage is available to all buyers, according to John Jerikian of Metropolitan Homes/Better Homes & Gardens Realty.
The two-story house has a 19-by-12-foot living room, an 11-by-9 dining room, a 13-by-10 eat-in kitchen, a 14-by-11 master bedroom and an 11-by-10 bedroom on the first floor. On the lower level is a 13-by-11 bedroom, a 17-by-12 family room with wood paneling and built-in cabinets and a laundry room. Purchase of the home's washer and dryer is negotiable.
The house, with gas heat and electric central air conditioning, is also being marketed as an energy-efficient home, mostly because of its storm windows and brick exterior, according to Jerikian, who added that the ceiling is rated at about an R-11 and the walls about R-13. The home's water heater is two years old, and a new roof is scheduled to be completed this month.
The house also includes two full baths, storage space in the attic, dishwasher, disposal, gas range, carpeting in the living room, hardwood floors in the upstairs bedrooms, a spiral staircase, tool shed, driveway, a sliding-glass door leading from the dining room to a deck in the backyard and developed landscaping.
"It's a good starter home," said Jerikian, especially for a couple "who don't make a lot of money." He added that it is suited for a small family or two single people who want to live outside of the city, yet remain close to work.
In the District, the $105,000 median price buys city living and all its benefits, but substantial floor space is sacrificed.
There is a $104,900 price tag on a one-bedroom cooperative apartment with about 750 square feet of living space at 1835 Phelps Place NW in the expensive Kalorama neighborhood just north of Dupont Circle.
"A person is buying time to use it the way they want to," Fran Carberry of District-Maryland Realty said of the apartment.
"Who wants to spend 1 1/2 hours in traffic to live in Rockville or Alexandria?" Carberry asked. She noted that the unit's location -- a few blocks from the Dupont Circle Metro station and within walking distance of numerous restaurants, shops, galleries and the downtown work area -- is ideal for a professional person or a couple without children "who want to fully enjoy the city."
Located on the top floor of a five-story, 60-year-old building, the unit includes a 10-by-11-foot dining room, a 12-by-19 living room with three west-facing windows and an 11-foot ceiling, and a 15-by-12 bedroom with a rotary ceiling fan and two small closets. A compact bathroom contains the room's original tiling and an old-fashioned pedestal sink.
The small, narrow kitchen includes a dishwasher, gas range, microwave oven, frost-free refrigerator, disposal and ample wood cabinets. A wall separating the kitchen from the living room has been knocked down, leaving a four-foot-high, wood-topped counter. Heated by steam radiators and cooled by two window air conditioners, the apartment also includes custom drapes, hardwood floors, wood molding and mauve-colored walls.
As part of a 15-unit cooperative building, the apartment is "virtually maintenance free," said Carberry, who added that a $200 monthly fee includes not only taxes and all utilities except electricity, but also the building's overall maintenance costs.
The safety of the exclusive Kalorama neighborhood is an added selling point, Carberry said. Extra police protect the area's numerous foreign missions, including a Soviet chancery building located next to the cooperative, and such neighbors as Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.