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Where to look in D.C.? Depends what kind of house you want



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Last month we looked at median prices over the past seven months for D.C. neighborhoods based on zip code and compared the growth in median price year to date for 2014 over that from 2013.


Using the year-to-date Washington overall 4.20 percent growth in median prices from 2013 to 2014 as our baseline, we looked at the statistics for individual neighborhoods based on zip code. The biggest winners for the year to date in median price growth are 20020 (Anacostia/Hillcrest +22.10 percent), 20005 (Logan Circle/Thomas Circle +20.30 percent), and 2018 (Brentwood/Lincoln +15.70 percent).  Biggest losers in median price growth for the year overall are Woodley Park/Cleveland Park (-15.40 percent), 20012 (Colonial Village/Takoma DC -4.40 percent), and 20003 (Capitol Hill South -2.50 percent).


In this month’s article, we take a deeper look at median prices in neighborhoods by zip code in terms of housing type. We’ll look at attached housing, since that is the prevalent type of housing within the District, and we’ll look at it in terms of the following configurations: condos and coops, two bedrooms or fewer, three bedrooms, and four bedrooms or larger. In any configuration, we’ll rule out data for which there are fewer than five units or less sold in that configuration. Using this approach, we can identify some neighborhoods where the seller’s market still predominates (neighborhoods with larger increases in median sold prices) and neighborhoods where buyers might seek some less expensive housing (zip codes with lower increases or even decreases in median sold prices over 2013).

What’s the implication of all this number crunching? If you hear the market is “hot” in a certain neighborhood, make sure it’s hot in the housing type you want to sell. If you hear that there are bargains to be had, make sure those bargains are available in the type of housing you’re looking to buy. A good realtor will help you dig a little deeper to understand the market conditions for your existing or desired property.

NOTE: To view the actual numbers in the following paragraphs about median prices for different housing types, please refer to the chart at the end of the article.


Let’s start with condos and coops, since that is the by far the prevalent type of “attached” housing in the District. There have been 2,235 condo or coop units sold through July of this year, which represents 134 percent of the other kinds of attached housing.

Biggest increase with +127.91 percent is zip code 20020 (Anacostia/Hillcrest), which as we saw last month is the biggest gainer in overall median price for any housing type. Zip code 20010 (Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant) follows close behind at +90 percent, which testifies to the increasing development and demand for properties in this neighborhood. Zip code 2012 (Colonial Village/Takoma) is in distant third place at +38.59 percent. Interestingly, this same zip code is one of the lowest three zip codes for overall median price growth, which demonstrates the value of considering these numbers on a more discriminating basis.

Places where buyers might seek lower prices? Zip code 20032 (Congress Heights), with -18.04 percent decrease in median sold price since last year, zip code 20015 (Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase DC with -11.35 percent decrease), and zip code 20004 (Penn Quarter with -8.57 percent decrease).


At 331, attached homes of two bedrooms or less make up the smallest number of housing units sold.

In this configuration the biggest increases in median prices occurred in zip code 20011 (16th St. Heights/Crestwood with +64.01 percent), followed by zip code 20032 (Congress Heights with +35.50 percent) and zip code 20001 (Howard U/Shaw with +31.97 percent). Note the occurrence of zip code 20032 in both the lower rank for condos and coops, but the higher rank for one-to-two bedroom — so it depends what type of housing you’re looking for in selecting a neighborhood for good value.

In the same way, zip code 20017 (Brookland/Catholic U) is a great place to buy an attached two-bedroom home, as is zip code 20016 (Cathedral Heights/AU Park). Zip code 20010 (Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant is likewise a great place to buy an attached two-bedroom home, but a great place tosell that condo you’ve been living in since you arrived in D.C. (Sounds like a good move-up strategy: sell high and buy low.)


Three-bedroom attached homes make up the largest group of attached housing. At 789 units sold year to date, they make up almost half of the 1,658 attached housing units sold.

Zip code 20018 (Brentwood/Lincoln) was the big winner here, with an increase of +47.38 percent in median sold price over last year. Note that this zip code was also in the higher rank of D.C. neighborhoods overall for median price growth over 2013. Similarly, zip codes 20032 (Congress Heights) and 20001 (Howard U/Shaw) were in the higher rank for median sold price growth as they were for attached homes of one-to-two bedrooms. So these are clearly growth areas for attached housing.

Where are the potential bargains for buyers seeking three-bedroom attached housing? Some of the same neighborhoods emerge as in previous housing configurations: zip codes 20015 (Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase DC) and 20017 (Brookland/Catholic U). A surprise in this category is zip code 20009 (Dupont/Adams Morgan) with only 1.66 percent increase in median sold price over last year.  But at $948,305, the median sold price may well be peaking and can hardly be considered a bargain.


Attached homes of four bedrooms or more account for about one-third of the attached housing units sold.

Considering the data for attached housing of four bedrooms or more again demonstrates the wisdom of considering the housing type and configuration when evaluating seller’s dreams and buyer’s bargains — because some of the same zip neighborhoods emerge in opposite rankings from where we have previously seen them. Zip codes 20017, 20016, and 20011 emerge as good zip codes in which to sell, while zip codes 20015, 20008 and 20020 emerge as good places to buy a four-bedroom attached home.

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Ted Smith is a licensed REALTOR® with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city DC. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on FacebookYoutube or Twitter. You can also join him on monthly tours of mid-city neighborhood Open Houses, as well as monthly seminars geared toward first-time home buyers. Sign up at


Real Estate

Beach or mountains? Find your ideal getaway home

Something for every taste, from waterfront to vineyard



Believe it or not, there are affordable vacation homes for sale in beautiful Key West, Fla.

Have you been thinking about buying a love nest where you can find a little peace and take part in a respite revolution? Do you like the beach or the mountains? Do you thrive on culture and the arts or prefer getting your hands dirty? Are you a people person or more of a hermit? 

If you’re lucky enough to be a homeowner who has seen some appreciation in the last 10 years, then you may be closer to obtaining that getaway or retirement home than you think. Here are some suggestions for whatever lifestyle you may prefer as you pursue your (dare I say gay?) agenda. 

For the Beach Bum

Annapolis, Md., is a great point from which to take weekend trips to a variety of beaches along Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey coastlines and still be close to downtown D.C. for those days you’re required to work onsite at your office. About $900,000 buys you a 2-bedroom, 2-bath penthouse condominium built in 2019 with a terrace and 2 parking spaces, located in the downtown arts district. 

If you’re willing to travel and you’re not boycotting Florida, Key West is always a favorite spot. Consider investing in a home in the waterfront community of Sunset Harbor on Cow Key Channel in Stock Island. For $435,000, you can buy a 960-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bath cottage with boat slip on a canal. Bonus: it’s fully furnished, can be rented for $3,800 a month in six-month increments, and comes with a sign that invites you to “Talk Nautical to Me, Baby.”

For the Mountaineer

If seclusion is your goal, a 1,700-square-foot log cabin surrounded by three acres of forest land in Strasburg, Va., in the Appalachian Mountains was listed for $475,000. Knotty pine adorns the walls and vaulted ceilings of this 3-bedroom, 2-bath beauty with covered front porch and hard-scaped terrace, but it received a contract in nine days, so keep your eye out for another one before winter sets in.

For the Small-Town Aficionado

Charleston, W.Va. is home of the West Virginia Cultural Center and Clay Center, which feature music, dance, theater, and art exhibitions. New to the market is an early 20th century brick Victorian in the East End Historic District. For less than $350,000, you get 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a covered front porch, original woodwork, and 3,150 square feet of charm. Just bring your kitchen and bath designer. 

For the Gentleman (or Lady) Farmer/Vintner

Perhaps this 6.6-acre winery and a 1900 Federal 3-bedroom, 2 bath, 2,219-square-foot home with Chincoteague Bay views in Girdletree, Md., sets your heart ablaze. For only $925,000, you get vinifera “Semilion” vines, trellises, outbuildings, and the opportunity to run it as a vineyard, wedding venue, horse farm, or pretty much anything your heart desires. 

For the Hostess (or Host) with the Mostest

Historic Lancaster, Pa., might be a place to run your bed and breakfast. The #1 Trip Advisor-rated B&B there is for sale for only $775,000. Welcome guests to one of 6 rooms with private baths, as well as a unique 2-bedroom cottage. The location is perfect for enjoying local and off-Broadway theater, dining, museums, galleries, and the Amish countryside. 

For the Cultural Connoisseur

If you frequently take the train to New York to the theater, symphony, or ballet, you can avoid the high cost of hotels by purchasing a charming, oversized (by NYC standards) studio co-op on the east side of Midtown Manhattan in Murray Hill for only $385,000. With a live-in superintendent and video intercom, you can come and go as you please knowing that you have someone to call upon when needed. 

For the Local Water Buoy (or Gull)

If you have considered a floating home, you don’t have to be sleepless in Seattle or partying in Portland; you can find one closer to home. Gangplank Marina at The Wharf on D.C.’s southwest waterfront offers a pet-friendly community of live-aboard homes on the water owned by a group of down to earth neighbors. These properties have a very low turnover rate, so if the thought of living on the water but still in the city appeals to you, check out the current 1-bedroom available for only $197,000, plus monthly slip fees of $2,230. Sorry, no Airbnb or other rentals allowed.

And if you’re looking for a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath home with expansion potential on 10 acres for only $559,000, don’t miss beautiful Gay, Ga., population 114. Previously showcased in Season 2 of Queer Eye, it’s not Atlanta, but it may be ready for some gay Pride. 

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Real Estate

Acquiring a down payment for your dream home

Unconventional strategies for finding the money you need



Saving for your dream home? Here are some tips for finding the down payment.

Purchasing a home is a significant milestone, but for many aspiring homeowners, the biggest hurdle is saving for a down payment. While traditional saving methods are widely known, exploring creative and unconventional strategies can provide alternative pathways to gather the necessary funds. 

In this article, we will explore a range of innovative approaches to acquiring a down payment for your dream home. By thinking outside the box and considering unique options, you can turn your homeownership aspirations into reality.

1. Shared Equity and Co-Buying:

Consider exploring shared equity or co-buying arrangements with family members, friends, or trusted partners. Pooling resources can significantly boost your collective down payment savings, making homeownership more attainable. Whether it involves jointly purchasing a property or establishing an agreement to share ownership and expenses, this approach allows for shared financial responsibility and increased purchasing power.

2. Down Payment Assistance Programs:

Research and explore various down payment assistance programs offered by government agencies, non-profit organizations, or local housing authorities. These programs provide financial aid or grants to eligible homebuyers, assisting them in meeting the down payment requirements. Each program has specific criteria and limitations, so it is essential to understand the options available in your area.

3. Creative Financing Options:

Investigate alternative financing options such as seller financing, lease-to-own arrangements, or rent-to-own programs. These arrangements often provide more flexibility in acquiring a down payment and transitioning into homeownership. Seller financing allows buyers to negotiate terms directly with the seller, while lease-to-own or rent-to-own agreements provide an opportunity to build equity over time while renting.

4. Crowdfunding and Community Support:

Tap into the power of crowdfunding platforms and community support to gather funds for your down payment. Share your homeownership goals with family, friends, and social networks, and consider launching a crowdfunding campaign to garner financial contributions. Additionally, some employers offer matching programs for down payment savings, so explore potential workplace assistance programs or incentives.

5. Homebuyer Grants and Loans:

Research available homebuyer grants or loans specifically designed to assist first-time buyers or those with limited financial resources. These grants and loans can provide a substantial boost to your down payment savings. Government agencies, local housing authorities, and non-profit organizations often administer these programs, offering various terms and conditions to support homebuyers.

6. Income-Generating Assets:

Explore income-generating opportunities to supplement your savings. Consider renting out a spare room, starting a small business or freelancing, or investing in income-generating assets such as rental properties or dividend-paying stocks. Generating additional income can accelerate your down payment savings, bringing you closer to homeownership faster.

7. Negotiating with Sellers:

When making an offer on a property, explore the possibility of negotiating a lower down payment requirement with the seller. In some cases, sellers may be open to more flexible terms, especially if it expedites the sale or helps them achieve their own financial goals. Engage in open and honest communication during the negotiation process to explore mutually beneficial solutions.

8. Downsize or Liquidate Assets:

Consider downsizing your current living situation or liquidating assets that are not essential to free up funds for a down payment. This could involve selling a car, downsizing to a smaller rental, or parting with belongings that hold significant value. Evaluate your current financial situation and identify areas where you can make temporary sacrifices to prioritize homeownership.

9. Savings and Budgeting Strategies:

Implement creative savings and budgeting strategies to accelerate your down payment savings. Explore the possibility of living with roommates, cutting back on discretionary expenses, or negotiating lower interest rates on existing debts. Every dollar saved brings you closer to your down payment goal, so diligently review your budget and identify areas where you can reduce expenses and allocate more funds towards your down payment savings.

10. Employer Assistance Programs:

Check if your employer offers any homeownership assistance programs or benefits. Some companies provide down payment matching programs, low-interest loans, or financial counseling services to help employees achieve homeownership. Take advantage of these resources and explore how your employer can support you in reaching your down payment goals.

Persistence and creativity are key when it comes to acquiring a down payment. Stay focused on your goal, be open to alternative methods, and adapt your approach as needed. With determination, resourcefulness, and a willingness to explore new avenues, you can overcome financial barriers and achieve your dream of homeownership. Start exploring these unconventional strategies today and take a step closer to making your dream home a reality.

Jeff Hammerberg is the founder of, the largest and longest-running gay real estate agent referral service in the nation, boasting more than 3,500 LGBTQ Realtors who operate in cities across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For more than 25 years, he has been a prolific writer, coach, and author.

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Real Estate

Thinking of renting your place short-term in D.C.?

Here are some key factors to consider



You’ll need a license if renting your place in D.C.

Summer is coming, and in D.C., many homeowners turn their attention to generating revenue from their primary D.C. residence while they are away for the summer. Due to the way some D.C. employers enable staff to work remotely and permit longer vacation schedules in the summer months, many owners can find extra income annually by considering short-term rentals. Here are a few key things you should know before getting started.  

In 2021 the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs announced it was “finally ready to start implementing and enforcing ” a law passed three years earlier for short-term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO, etc.). According to DCist, the agency started accepting license applications for short-term rentals on Jan. 10 last year and started enforcing the law’s provisions in April 2022.

According to Martin Austermuhle’s “D.C. to Start Restricting Airbnb and Other Short-Term Rentals” he wrote for DCist, “The law applies specifically to short-term rentals, those lasting less than 30 days at a time. Under the new law, any D.C. homeowner who wants to rent out a bedroom, basement, or entire home on Airbnb or any other platform has to get a short-term rental license from DCRA. (The two-year license costs $104.50.)”

Charlotte Perry, owner of LUXbnb, a property manager specializing in furnished short-term rentals in D.C. for more than 15 years, is a trusted partner to Columbia Property Management. She shared her expertise and guidance with me on short-term rentals. Her business, LUXbnb, punches above its weight in the D.C. area, bringing owners greater opportunity to realize the gains they hope to make. She brings deep insight into what you can expect if you were to go down this path with your property. 

Companies like hers function like any other property manager might. LUXbnb collects the rents, “hotel” taxes, security deposits, departure cleaning, and any other applicable feeds on behalf of the owner. They manage turnover between guests including cleaning and any needed repairs. And at the end of each month, they release the rental income earned less the management fee and any repair costs or new purchases.

In the District, if the owner resides at the house during the rental, s/he can host short-term renters all year long with no consequence. However, if, like many of Charlotte’s clients, the owner is renting their property while they are gone during the summer or while on assignment for, say, the World Bank, those owners can only do so for a total of 90 days for the entire year. Owners like these will want to consider that under the new law, you cannot rent out your second home as an Airbnb/VRBO short term rental, and so knowing the regulations can save you a lot of headaches.

Registration Requirements  

Did you know all short-term rental hosts in D.C. are required to obtain a Short-term Rental License? 

According to the Office of Short-term Rental Licensing, “In order to operate a short-term or vacation rental in the District, the property must be owned by an individual, and serve as a homeowner’s primary residence – with the owner being eligible to receive the Homestead Tax Deduction. ”

To be eligible for such a license the home must be your primary residence and owner-occupied.  You will need to provide DC’s Office of Short-term Rental Licensing (DLCP) the following:

Specify whether you currently have a Homestead Exemption on the property.

Proof of your liability insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage. (See below for more details).

A Certificate of Clean Hands issued within the last 30 days in the property owners name must be obtained from the Office of Tax and Revenue.

The owner, or “host,” must attest to the habitability of the property.

If the rental is a co-op, condo, or if the property is in a community where there is a homeowners’ association, the owner must attest that the bylaws, house rules, or other governing documents of the homeowner/condo/ cooperative governing board or association allow short-term and/or vacation rentals, do not prohibit owners from operating short-term rentals and/or vacation rentals, or that they have received written permission from the association to operate a short-term and/or vacation rental at the address.

Once you have successfully registered with DLCP, you will be provided with a license. You will then upload this Short-term Rental License number into your property profile in both Airbnb and VRBO. Those sites will then provide bookings for “under-31-nights” on your property.  

By working with an experienced rental property manager specializing in furnished temporary stays, you can ensure that you’re operating your short-term rental legally and safely. Better yet, you can avoid any penalties or fines that could result from non-compliance with District regulations.

Some factors you might want to consider on your journey to short-term rental success:

Cleaning Fee and Preparation Service

Perhaps you’ll want to have a cleaning service at-the-ready in case your renters have a slight disaster while they’re there. Or maybe you’ll want a service to clean prior to arrivals and directly after departures, so you can quickly turnaround the property for further rental. 


Do you want pets in your home while you’re away? If so, you might want to add in an automatic post-stay pet cleaning fee to cover the expense of hair and other less pleasant odor removal.

Insurance/Accidental Damage

Charlotte’s company takes out a $3,000 accidental damage insurance policy on every stay in lieu of holding a damage deposit. The cost to the guest is $39 per rental. This insurance is a safe-guard for the guest, property owner and her company, of course. This insurance policy “allows for the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another – in this case the insurance company. It is a simple way for all parties involved to mitigate risk, and most importantly, provides peace-of-mind.”

Liability Insurance

As you saw above, the District requires all owners to possess a liability insurance policy with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage to gain a license in the District. A variety of companies can help, according to the Motley Fool’s “The Ascent” newsletter, but some do this faster and better than others. And they even recommend ones that are best for Airbnb and VRBO rental owners. The Ascent’s best homeowners insurance for short-term rentals include the following:

Allstate Insurance: Best for possessing a large network of agents

Proper Insurance: Best for Airbnb and VRBO owners

Nationwide Insurance : Best for bundling policies

Farmers Insurance : Best for vacation rentals

Steadily Insurance: Best for getting coverage quickly

Safely Insurance: Best for fast claims processing

Should you have further questions or seek to explore the option of short or mid-term rentals, do not hesitate to contact Charlotte Perry directly at 202-341-8799 or [email protected]

Scott Bloom is senior property manager and owner of Columbia Property Management. 

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