Washington is now the most expensive place in the country to live. Top brokers reveal how to get the most out of paying a premium.
Georgetown is a good choice for buyers looking to make a smart investment.
Recently DC has come into the spotlight as one of the most expensive places to live in the country, with some of the priciest real estate. We caught up with three renowned local realtors—Long & Foster’s Hans Wydler, Coldwell Banker’s Monica Boyd, and Washington Fine Properties’ Kimberly Casey—for advice on how buyers can still get the most out of the market.
Washington real estate avoided a drastic dip during the recession, and in recent years, it has boomed. Why do you think that is? Hans Wydler: Government growth is a huge part of the real estate boom and it contributes to why the DC area is “recession proof.” Monica Boyd: I also believe that DC owes its economic boom to its young— and young at heart— population that values urban living, quality businesses and restaurants, and an environmentally friendly lifestyle, like the city’s bike-sharing stations and dedicated bike lanes.
What neighborhoods do you recommend during a boom? Kimberly Casey: Buy the location where people want to be—always a smart investment even when the market dips. George town and Logan Circle will always be desired. HW: Look for local catalysts when choosing a “hot” neighborhood—changes that can increase or decrease the value of the property faster than the general market. Is there a Metro station opening or a new commercial development moving in? Is a major employer leaving? Smart investors identify the positive catalysts and limit their search to nearby properties.
Is now a good time to buy or to sell? What about investment properties? HW: We are further into a real estate boom, so deals and steals are nearly all gone. However, for buyers buying with enough time to stay in the house and ride out the investment, it’s always a good time to invest. MB: Long-term real estate values have only gone up, and the Washington Business Journal recently predicted a very sizable increase in DC residential values over the next four years.
Which is the better buy today: condos or single-family homes? HW: There are pros and cons to both. Single-family homes closer to the city tend to offer a great investment, as they are usually lower on the supply side. You’ll often see many condo communities being developed, resulting in high volume and perhaps not enough demand, which will lower the value. But as a landlord, with a single-family home, there tends to be much more maintenance required.
What trends should buyers invest in or steer clear of? HW: The number of close-in homes inside DC proper or in the first tier of suburbs—Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Arlington, Alexandria, etc.—hasn’t changed that much, so we suspect this will be the strongest part of the market in the foreseeable future. Homes with great flow, great light, and flexible floor plans tend to retain value over time. MB: Buyers today want the same things that buyers have always wanted: well-designed kitchens and bathrooms, good landscaping, and off-street parking. Hans Wydler, 301-986-6405; Monica Boyd, 202-321-5055; Kimberly Casey, 202-361-3228