correction: An earlier version of the story misstated the name of the condominium building at 1111 Oronoco St. in Alexandria. The building’s name is the Henry, not the Monarch.

Anyone looking to buy a home this spring in the Washington region can attest to how few listings there are on the market, and homes for sale that are in good shape and not overpriced are being snapped up quickly.

This is especially true on the entry-level side. First-time buyers who are seeking a home priced around $400,000 are frustrated not only by the lack of supply but also how rapidly the process moves.

“Inventory in the region at the $400,000 price range is currently very low,” Ana Rivas-Beck , an real estate agent with Weichert Realtors in Alexandria, wrote in an email. “In the City of Alexandria alone, inventory is half of what it was at this point in time in 2018. As a result, many homes are selling before they are even listed. They often sell for above list price and with appraisal and inspections being waived.”


The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo at 405 17th St. NE, Unit B, Washington, is listed at $399,900. (HouseLens)

For many people, buying a home is often the most expensive purchase of their lifetime. The last thing they want to do is rush the process. But in a market like Washington, buyers often are forced to make quick decisions.

“Many homes are being sold before they even reach the market,” Rivas Beck wrote. “The best way for a buyer to find and tour properties that are not listed is to work with a buyer’s agent rather than relying on online listings on real estate sites. . . . In addition, I suggest patience. As I tell my clients, ‘Don’t give up, but wait. This purchasing frenzy will not last forever. It will slow down, and then you buy.’ However, if that is not an option, buyers should be ready with their lender and be willing to pay above asking price.”

In the Washington region, what a home buyer can get with $400,000 varies by location.


The three-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse at 13425 Catapult Lane, Bristow, is listed at $385,000. (HomeVisit)

“Inside the Beltway, you can purchase a condominium in the $400,000 price range,” Rivas Beck wrote. “Often it will be a two-bedroom home, and likely a unit or very small townhouse. In Washington, D.C., $400,000 will get you a smaller multiunit dwelling, usually under 700 square feet with one bedroom. Outside the Beltway, the further out one goes, the greater their purchasing power.”

To give home buyers an idea of what $400,000 buys, we came up with a sampling of properties in that price range in the Washington region and across the country with the help of Realtor.com. As the list shows, the size of the home depends on its location.

We also wanted to provide first-time home buyers with a sense of the costs involved in owning a $400,000 home, so we asked Realtor.com to calculate what an owner would pay monthly. Of course, the amount of debt a home buyer has (e.g., student or car loans) will alter these calculations. Homeowners association fees and maintenance costs need to be factored in as well.

Because many first-time home buyers don’t have 20 percent for a down payment, the costs were calculated based on a 5 percent down payment ($20,000). A recent Zillow analysis found that nearly a quarter of buyers put down 5 percent or less. However, the low down payment means private mortgage insurance (PMI) must be added to the overall cost.

Based on a 5 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of 4 percent, the monthly mortgage payment would be around $2,709 including taxes and insurance (using average national tax and insurance rates). To remain within the general guidelines of spending no more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing, a buyer would need to earn at least $108,345 to afford a home in this price range.

“Homes can be found in this market and at this price range, but being open to some small projects after you move in will make finding a home a more pleasant task,” Rivas Beck wrote. “The homes in this range may not have a white kitchen and white quartz counter tops, but that could be a project for the future. Sometimes a home just needs a great coat of paint or new carpeting, so don’t let these little imperfections lead you to skip the tour. At the end of the day, cosmetic fixes are easy, just be sure to never give up location.”

Wondering what $400,000 buys you? Take a look below:

The District

The penthouse at 2122 California St. NW, No. 654, Washington, D.C. (HomeVisit)
$400,000

2122 California St. NW, No. 654, Washington 20008

1 bedroom, 1 bathroom.
Square footage: 667.
Price per square foot: $600.
Lot size: N/A.
Features: The penthouse in the Westmoreland co-op in Kalorama has hardwood floors and a skylight in the updated kitchen. The six-story Beaux-Arts building was built in 1905 as an apartment building and converted to a co-op in 1948. The building has a 24-hour desk and roof deck. Monthly co-op fees of $602 include taxes and utilities. An assigned parking spot is available to rent for $200 monthly.

Agent: Larry Calvert, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.


A condo at 405 17th St. NE, Unit B, Washington, D.C. (HouseLens)
$399,900

405 17th St. NE, Unit B, Washington 20002

2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.
Square footage: 856.
Price per square foot: $467.
Lot size: 0.01 acre.
Features: The condo in the Kingman Park neighborhood was built in 2015. It has an open layout with hardwood floors. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The unit is a D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) inclusionary zoning property with income limits. Monthly condo fees are $320.

Agent: Tanya Cunningham, Century 21 New Millennium.


A rowhouse at 119 34th St. SE, Washington, D.C. (Shanelle Spivey/American Real Estate Marketing)
$389,900

119 34th St. SE, Washington 20019

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.
Square footage: 1,224.
Price per square foot: $319.
Lot size: 0.05 acre.
Features: The rowhouse in the Fort Dupont Park neighborhood was built in 1989. The kitchen has been updated with stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops. The property includes off-street parking and a large backyard.

Agent: Orlando Smith, Re/Max Professionals.

Maryland

An end-unit townhouse at 210 Leafcup Ct, Gaithersburg, Md. (247101.com)
$398,888

210 Leafcup Ct., Gaithersburg 20878

2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms.
Square footage: 1,320.
Price per square foot: $302.
Lot size: 0.06 acre.
Features: The end-unit townhouse in the Amberfield community has hardwood floors on two levels, a fireplace, a deck, a walkout basement and an updated kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The monthly homeowners association fees are $97.

Agent: Lorenzo DeVera, Keller Williams.


2802 Harris Ave., Silver Spring, Md. (HomeVisit)
$399,000

2802 Harris Ave., Silver Spring 20902

4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.
Square footage: 1,776.
Price per square foot: $225.
Lot size: 0.20 acre.
Features: The 1952 home in the Wheaton Crest neighborhood has hardwood floors, updated bathrooms and an updated kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The property also has a driveway, a fenced backyard, deck and shed.

Agent: Mandy Kaur, Redfin.


7527 Abbington Dr., Oxon Hill, Md. (Michael Harrison/Redfin)
$390,000

7527 Abbington Dr., Oxon Hill 20745

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.
Square footage: 1,309.
Price per square foot: $298.
Lot size: 0.15 acre.
Features: The 1957 house has had only two owners. The home has hardwood floors, a doorbell with a video camera and intercom, an updated kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and new appliances including a washer, dryer, gas stove and whole-house gas generator. The finished basement has a wet bar. The backyard is fenced.

Agent: Hazel Shakur, Redfin.

Virginia

1111 Oronoco St., No. 429, Alexandria, Va. (BTW Images)
$390,900

1111 Oronoco St., No. 429, Alexandria 22314

1 bedroom, 1 bathroom.
Square footage: 761.
Price per square foot: $514.
Lot size: N/A.
Features: The condo is in the Henry, a 2008 building of 168 units. The apartment has hardwood floors, a kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and an in-unit washer and dryer. It comes with garage parking and extra storage space. The monthly condo fee of $453 includes cable, Internet, fitness center, front desk and rooftop terrace.

Agent: Marc Foster, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.


13425 Catapult Lane, Bristow, Va. (HomeVisit)
$385,000

13425 Catapult Lane, Bristow 20136

3 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms.
Square footage: 2,268.
Price per square foot: $170.
Lot size: 0.04 acre.
Features: The 1997 townhouse in the Kingsbrooke community was recently remodeled. The home has a patio, private deck, fenced backyard and a walkout basement with a fireplace. The one-car garage is attached. The quarterly homeowners association fee of $225 covers snow removal, trash pickup and use of the community swimming pool, tennis courts and playground.

Agent: Jennifer Pogoda, Redfin.


43547 Mahala St., Leesburg, Va. (HomeVisit)
$395,000

43547 Mahala St., Leesburg 20176

3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms.
Square footage: 2,448.
Price per square foot: $161.
Lot size: N/A.
Features: The end-unit townhouse in the Residences at Lansdowne community was built in 2007. It has new wide-plank hardwood floors, a fireplace, a balcony and an attached one-car garage. The monthly homeowners association fees of $397 cover high-speed Internet and use of the community pool and fitness center.

Agent: Kelly Stock Bacon, ERA Teachers.

National

4809 Algonquin Rd., Des Moines, Iowa (Vizzi Heartland)
$399,000

4809 Algonquin Rd., Des Moines 50311

3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms.
Square footage: 2,246.
Price per square foot: $178.
Lot size: 0.25 acre.
Features: The 1925 Tudor-style house is near Waveland Golf Course and Drake University. The home has period details and updated finishes. A gas fireplace with a paneled wood surround and flanked by two built-in bookcases makes a statement in the living room. The two-car garage is attached.

Agent: Rick Grubb , Realty One Group Impact.


2000 Towerside Ter., No. 1912, Miami, Fla. (Courtesy of Compass)
$399,000

2000 Towerside Ter., Apt. 1912, Miami 33138

2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.
Square footage: 1,538.
Price per square foot: $259.
Lot size: N/A.
Features: The renovated unit is in the Towers of Quayside, a 1981 condo building in Miami Shores. A balcony offers views of Biscayne Bay. The monthly condo fee of $960 covers 24-hour security, cable television and use of tennis courts, heated pool, marina, jogging path, dog park, basketball court and exercise facilities.

Agents: David Carrion-Levy and Ben Moss, Compass.


1612 Royalann Ct. NW, Salem, Ore. (Steven Nichols/Steven James Photography)
$395,000

1612 Royalann Ct. NW, Salem, Ore. 97304

4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms.
Square footage: 2,403.
Price per square foot: $164.
Lot size: 0.16 acre.
Features: The 1994 house in the Royalann Estates community in West Salem is on a quiet cul-de-sac. The home has hand-scraped hardwood floors and a gas fireplace. The kitchen has granite countertops. The property includes a large patio, a professionally landscaped yard and an attached two-car garage.

Agent: Christine Folz, John L. Scott Real Estate.