D.C. is divided into many neighborhoods that can be confusing to learn. (Image by Peter Fitzgerald; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Do you really know where you live?
When I started selling real estate in D.C. in the 1990s there were a number of neighborhood monikers that had withstood the test of time.
Everyone knew Georgetown, for example, with its expensive properties and the restaurants and shops that lined M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Nearby Foggy Bottom was also well known; its name still produces the nervous giggles of a 10-year-old from transplants to our fair city.
Capitol Hill had always been a prominent section of the District although out-of-towners generally associated it with the government rather than the neighborhood of historic homes its residents know and love. And for other D.C. newbies, Dupont Circle was, and perhaps still is, a frustrating roundabout where one can drive in circles for an hour while working up the courage to veer off in the wrong direction, vowing never to return.
Areas like Cleveland Park and American University Park were often a mystery to newcomers who had never realized there was a suburban-like aspect to D.C. And why, they would ask, were there two different Chevy Chases and Takoma Parks?
As time passed and the District improved its economic base, increased development flourished. Legally known as Old City II, easily the Rodney Dangerfield of names, D.C.’s northwest area splintered into a number of new subdivisions. With the addition of each Starbucks a neighborhood name was born.
Initially, when development headed east from western parts of northwest D.C., we added Dupont East, the U Street Corridor, Logan Circle and Logan East, a cachet name for Shaw, which, thankfully, has returned to its roots as Shaw again.
Now we also have Bloomingdale, Mount Vernon Square, Truxton Circle, Kingman Park, NoMa and the Atlas District. Even Penn Quarter, one of the District’s pricier downtown neighborhoods, was not much more than a decaying combination of dim sum restaurants and office buildings prior to 2004.
Because the boundaries of D.C. subdivisions are somewhat blurred, there are often days when I travel around the city never knowing where I am and according to whom. Still, real estate agents must be familiar with a number of areas so we can introduce them to our buyers and sing their praises on behalf of our sellers.
One good way to do this is by developing neighborhood profiles with information that can be kept in a folder or binder for review at an open house, inserted into a PowerPoint presentation to appear on a website or be accessed via tablet, or even take the form of a PDF that can be shared with potential buyers and their agents via email.
It’s important to clarify that a neighborhood profile should not include facts or assumptions that could steer a buyer to or from a given area or tread in any way on fair housing laws. Be sure to let your real estate agent guide you in drawing that line in the sand.
Here are some items that sellers can provide to their agents to help buyers select their neighborhood and ultimately, their home.
• The URL of a website that provides information about the neighborhood
• Access to a listserv or other online forum that includes other residents of the area
• The latest edition of a local paper or community newsletter
• A Walkscore map (www.walkscore.com) that shows the home’s proximity to transportation, recreation, shopping and nightlife
• Metrobus schedules and Zipcar locations
• Copies of articles about the neighborhood from periodicals and magazines
• Background information on properties in historic districts
• Information for pet parents: veterinarians, dog parks, daycare, walkers, etc.
• Reviews of favorite local restaurants and hangouts, shops and markets, and other areas of interest
So when you’re putting your house on the market, increase the visibility and desirability of your area by assembling all the good stuff you would like to have known before you moved there and keep it handy for when your agent asks, “Is there anything in particular about your neighborhood that I should make buyers aware of?”
In real estate marketing, TMI does not apply.
Valerie M. Blake can be reached at Keller Williams Capital Properties, 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Each office is independently owned & operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.