Since Dickerson bought her home, it and others in the community have more than doubled in value, but Covington remains affordable for first-time home buyers.
“It’s a very good bang for your buck,” said Will Stein, a real estate agent with Compass. Stein says some buyers complain about the lack of garages and natural light in the townhouses. Covington residents would like to have more retail options. But Covington makes up for it with affordability, location and amenities such as green spaces, a community pool and basketball court.
Even though Prince George’s County has added an estimated 100,000 residents since 2000, Dickerson feels Covington isn’t overdeveloped like Northern Virginia, where she also considered buying.
“Now, Northern Virginia might as well be Mars,” she said. “You have traffic on Sundays going to the mall.”
Covington’s proximity to Route 50 is another plus.
“Some communities, it takes you 10 minutes to get to the highway,” Stein said, “and then you got to get where you’re going.”
By contrast, Covington is no more than five minutes away, which allowed Dickerson to accept jobs from Arlington to Baltimore without having to move.
A network of trails and sidewalks in the neighborhood leads residents to commercial centers and green spaces just across Mitchellville Road, such as Bowie Town Center and Allen Pond Park, an 85-acre park built around a 10-acre pond that’s home to bass, catfish and trout. It also has the Bowie Ice Arena, an amphitheater, a paddle boat launch site and a skate park. On weekends, many families and outdoor enthusiasts can be found enjoying picnics by water and fishing along the bank.
Bowie Town Center and Collington Plaza are both a mile away and offer retail, grocery and dining options. But the choices can be limited.
“If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant where you can go out on a date,” Dickerson said, “we don’t have a whole lot of good ones.”
Good places to eat can still be found, including Rip’s Country Inn on the corner of Routes 197 and 301. The 60-year-old country store is a bar, restaurant, liquor store and deli rolled into one. Stein recommends the steak sandwich served au jus.
Thomas Nelson moved to Covington in 2001. Like Dickerson, he was a first-time home buyer. Although he hasn’t visited Allen Pond recently, he often took advantage of it when his son was younger. It was a good place for them to ride bicycles.
Nelson and Dickerson both refer to Covington as a “starter house” community, where single home buyers and young families move.
“Then you move up,” Nelson said. He is considering moving to a bigger house in a few years.
Nelson is friendly with his next-door neighbors but doesn’t know many other residents, except to wave to them. He says that could be because many are early-career professionals without children.
With 10 years experience working in the neighborhood, Stein has seen the market transform from one in which homes might stay on the market more than 30 days to one in which they might sell in a week.
This past spring to midsummer, he saw buyers forgo home inspections, buy sight unseen and pay above the appraised value, covering the difference out of pocket.
“You have to make sure that it’s the right time for you to buy,” he said. “You have to sacrifice a lot right now to be competitive.”
In the late summer and fall, the rapid price acceleration has slowed.
“We’ve stopped climbing, but we’re good,” Stein said. “We’re enjoying the view.”
Aside from a lack of garages in the Covington Condos and Covington Knolls communities, Stein can think of few drawbacks, whether a buyer is looking for a condo like those in the Summerfield community or a single-family home in Covington Manor and Townes.
“After all these pricing increases we’ve had for so long, it’s still only $350,000 to have a beautiful townhome 20 minutes from the D.C. line,” Stein said.
Living there: Homeowners association fees vary between the five Covington communities, but the shared recreation center fee is $330 a year, which includes access to a pool, basketball courts and event space. According to Faye Wright, a representative of the Covington Community Center, the neighborhood is bounded by Route 197 to the north, U.S. Route 301 to the east, Excalibur Road to the south, and Mitchellville Road to the west. It does not include the Pin Oak senior apartment community off Excalibur Road and the Alvista apartments off Elder Oaks Boulevard.
According to Compass real estate agent Melissa Farrell, 35 homes have sold in Covington in the past nine months — four detached single-family houses, 29 townhouses and two condos. Single-family home sales ranged from a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house for $460,000 to a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $585,000. Townhouse prices ranged from $320,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home to $406,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. The condo sales were for a pair of two-bedroom, two-bathroom units for $217,000 and $222,000. The average price was $507,500 for single-family houses and $350,000 for townhouses. No properties are on the market.
Schools: Northview Elementary; Benjamin Tasker Middle; Bowie High.
Transit: Covington is five minutes from Route 50. The New Carrollton Metro station, which has connections to MARC and Amtrak trains, as well as regional and local service, and will be the site of a future Purple Line terminus, is a 20-minute drive or 30-minute bus ride away.
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