Washington DC/Maryland Market

35 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I’m just starting out (haven’t yet bought a property) but I’m preparing myself to purchase within the next year or two. I currently live in Boston and the market here is too expensive and I don’t plan on being here too much longer.

I’ve gone to DC many times in the past year and so far it’s my favorite city, I’m hoping to move there soon and I’m interested in what areas are good to look at. I know with the city slowly changing, the recommended areas may change by the time I’m ready to buy. But I’m interested in house hacking and rental properties particularly in multi families and 2-4 unit buildings. Does anyone have any suggestions of what areas to look at and what websites would be useful to look at properties in DC?

Thanks,

Olivia

All depends on where you work and what lifestyle you prefer, and price range. Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, DC proper, and PG county all have some great areas to live.

Thanks for your reply Russell. Do you have any suggestions of where I can look at potential properties online just to see what’s out there? I’m 24 and I would prefer to be in/closer to the city but I wouldn’t mind living in a residential area either. 

Zillow is always a good place to browse. Info can lag the market a few days, but thats not a big deal if you are not actively shopping.

Just to warn you, DC is just about or more expensive to live compared to Boston. If your looking to move to a lower cost of living, DC is not your best choice. However, average and median income is higher in DC too. There’s very few 2-4 units in the DC area as a lot of people ask about them. Russell is probably the foremost expert in DC real estate on BP. You’ll get a ton of knowledge about the DC metro area by looking through his posts.

I prefer looking at listings through realtor.com.  Listings on zillow are delayed but realtor.com usually are not delayed.

@Olivia Umoren what areas of DC or the DC area have you been to that you like? That would give a better sense of your preference and clarity of if you talking about the District of Columbia (no representation) or the surrounding urban suburbs. Woodridge is different than Woodbridge but both in the DC area.

The prices in DC are pretty high compared to the rest of the country so there might not be a difference from Boston prices. That's why I, a DC resident, have investments elsewhere.

In the District of Columbia you can probably have better luck finding a two unit house. that could be a townhome with a basement apartment, or a detached house with a second unit (converted garage or the like) or a two flat property than a nice little 3-4 unit place. If you are feeling adventurous you can carve a basement apartment out of a one unit house, but prepare to work for it.

I ama DC native and if you are looking at cash flow PG county is about all that is left. In dc you have to find a deal bc it is so expensive. As far as a great area that will increase in value but provide little cash flow definitely Montgomery county md and in particular the areas closer to the beltway. 

@M Marie M. I've been to Columbia Heights and I liked the residential feel to it. I've also been to Capitol Hill, Dupont/Logan Circle area and the Navy Yard but I assumed that those areas would be way too expensive for me to bother looking at. Would you mind me asking where you have your other investments? I'm very open to other options whether it be DC, Maryland or Virginia...I'm just trying to get a feel for what area would be best for me. Thanks!

@Jorge Pereira Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it! Any areas in particular in PG or Montgomery that are good for younger people (35 and below)? I'm asking for me, in terms of what area would be good for me to live in (I'm 24 now). As far as investing right now I don't have particular preferences yet.

@Sung Park Thanks so much for your comment. I see that you're from Philly...I was also looking there as a place to move and possibly invest. How is the market there? Do people usually stick to Greater Philly/suburbs or are there affordable properties in the city?

Originally posted by @Olivia Umoren :

@Jorge Pereira Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it! Any areas in particular in PG or Montgomery that are good for younger people (35 and below)? I'm asking for me, in terms of what area would be good for me to live in (I'm 24 now). As far as investing right now I don't have particular preferences yet.

If I was young and moving to Montgomery County I'd look at Downtown Silver Spring, The Pike and Rose area (Rockville), the area around Grosvenor-Strathmore metro, and maybe the Crown in Gaithersburg further out but still accessible to metro.

Oh and I forgot downtown Bethesda, possibly the best choice for young people, but also the most expensive 

Originally posted by Account Closed:
Originally posted by @Olivia Umoren:

@Jorge Pereira Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it! Any areas in particular in PG or Montgomery that are good for younger people (35 and below)? I'm asking for me, in terms of what area would be good for me to live in (I'm 24 now). As far as investing right now I don't have particular preferences yet.

If I was young and moving to Montgomery County I'd look at Downtown Silver Spring, The Pike and Rose area (Rockville), the area around Grosvenor-Strathmore metro, and maybe the Crown in Gaithersburg further out but still accessible to metro.

 I agree with Michaels choices for Montgomery County.  I actually live in Crown and really like it. In my mid twenties to early thirties I lived in downtown Silver Spring and Downtown DC as well, both which were good.  The left side of the Red Line is going to be generally really nice.  Gaithersburg southward generally has high demand, and thus good appreciation.

@Olivia Umoren FYI It is my understanding that in DC proper investors are doing condo conversions rather than multi-unit rentals because of the high cost to acquire and rehab. Baltimore is actually a market-of-choice for many DC-area investors because acquisition prices are significantly lower. Anywhere along the Metro Red Line is a good place to live (west side and east side) and the east side (from H Street/Union Station - Rhode Island Ave - Catholic University - Takoma Park - Silver Spring - Wheaton) you'll find investment opportunities as well. Also - the DC Wharf (SW, Green Line), which has a lot of commercial development going on and around Washington Nationals Park and the Navy Yard. There are good investment opportunities in SE DC, too. Look near Metro stations and big commercial development area. Good luck!

If you find yourself priced out of the DC market then I suggest you come check out Baltimore.  There is only 40 miles between the two Downtowns and multiple ways to commute (MARC Train, I-95, BW Parkway, Rt 1).  Plus Baltimore is a great city in its own right.

@Olivia Umoren welcome to BiggerPockets.  As Russell said, its all about quality of life and picking a location where you feel comfortable living.  There are plenty of pockets in DC where you can find good valued properties that will also drive healthy rents in the multifamily space.

Another way to "house hack" in the district if the multifamily space is to expensive for you is to purchase a single family house or condo with multiple bedrooms and rent out the rooms to friends/like minded individuals that you wouldn't mind living with. 

You could purchase a 4 bedroom home in Columbia Heights/Petworth and rent the rooms out for $1,200/each putting your monthly potential income at $3,600 and you still have a place to live.   This works for some!  Just a suggestion.

Good luck!

@Cassidy Burns Thank you! That's definitely a great suggestion but for me personally I'm definitely looking to live completely by myself. I've had my fair share of roommates and I just couldn't bring myself to share a space with other people again. Do you know if there are a good amount of single families that have a basement? I would be interested in looking at those while living in the home itself and renting out the basement.

Hi @Olivia Umoren welcome to BP. I don't think I see where you mention a budget. How much house do you think you can afford?

@Shadonna N. My absolute max would be $300k. I know that may not be enough for DC proper but I’m open to other places

You may be able to find a nice co-op for that price.

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