Everyone approaches their search for a new home with a list of must haves and secret desires. Sometimes, reality intrudes and you find your list changing from must haves like four bedrooms to a studio apartment! After the studio apartment there is no way to pare your list further and then what do you do?
If you’ve been looking for a new home and found that many were out of your price range, you may have to broaden your search. You might be able to find a property at a much better price in an up-and-coming neighborhood close to the neighborhoods you had targetted originally.
I am a big believer in focusing on those neighborhoods where development has begun and people are beginning to move in. I think this is a less risky approach than targetting a neighborhood that hasn't started to change - and hoping that the gods of real estate evolution smile on your choice and increase its value.
Those up and coming areas aren’t always easy to spot, but there are some clues that may be able to help you identify them.
Look for Coffee Shops, Small Restaurants and Artists and Young People
If you hear about a new art gallery or a restaurant or coffee shop frequented by local artists and musicians, those could indicate that the neighborhood has started on the path to revitalization. Artists and musicians often move into a struggling neighborhood because of the cheap rents and then revitalize it through their creativity. They open galleries and put on performances that draw other people to the area, sometimes first as customers and later as residents or business owners.
Young people are another demographic who tend to breathe new life into troubled neighborhoods. They often move into those areas for the same reasons that artists do–because of low rents–and lead their neighborhoods down the road to a renaissance. Businesses open to cater to young crowds, and the entire area benefits.
I consider businesses like coffee shops and art galleries to be grace notes of commerce. You don't really need them - but they make life nice. A community that is sustaining coffee shops, stationery stores and ice cream shops have disposible income. That is a good sign!
Find the New Dog Parks and Community Gardens
Lots of people love their dogs but the neighborhoods with dog parks are the ones you want to target. A neighborhood that is getting a new dog park is one that is improving. Community gardens are another improvement to monitor. Lots of people grow the odd pot of patio tomatoes in the back yard, but communities that have land to give to a garden are ones with stable populations that plan to stay and improve.
Find Areas Where Money Is Being Invested
City governments that spend large sums of money to construct a tall building or park or to fund a cleanup project do so because they’re committed to revitalizing rundown neighborhoods. Homeowners’ property values will likely rise as a result. Buying a house in that area early in its resurgence could be a good long-term investment.
Look at Trends
If a neighborhood on an upswing is bordered by one that has been neglected, the rundown neighborhood may be next in line for a revitalization. As home values rise in the thriving neighborhood, people will look for homes with lower rents and the resurgence will spread outward.
The improving reputation of a neighborhood will be reflected in prices at local businesses. When you visit an area, ask merchants and restaurant workers if prices have been going up. If they have, that points to a neighborhood that’s changing for the better.
Think About the Pros and Cons
Buying a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood can be a good investment and very exciting to get in on the ground floor of an emerging neighborhood. On the other hand, you have to be prepared for the neighborhood to take several years, or even more than a decade, to become that go to hot neighborhod that you are hoping it will be. It can take a long time for a neighborhood’s character and reputation to change significantly, and there are no guarantees. Changes in laws, demographics or economic conditions could prevent a neighborhood that seems promising now from realizing its full potential.
Even as the neighborhood improves, you should plan on dealimg with the remnants of a few rundown buildings, litter and other problems along side the new gelatto cafe and Thai noodle stores. Think carefully about the risks, especially if you have or plan to have children. Schools track neighborhoods and can take a little more time to improve.
Discuss with your real estate agent the current conditions in a neighborhood and how things have changed and might change in the future so you can make an informed decision.
Up and Coming Neighborhoods in DC
As a Washington almost native, I love how the city is growing and expanding. Neighborhoods like Shaw and Logan Circle were not where you found million dollar condos when I was growing up, but you certainly do now - along with Trader Joes, Whole Foods, crafted ice cream shops and designer clothing. Shaw, Logan Circle, and Dupont Circle are too pricey now for many people - so where do you go to get a good deal?
I love showing buyers vintage bungalows in Woodridge, because it is right next to Brookland - but not as expensive. Eckington is finally up and running after years of almost ran! Eckington is close to Bloomingdale - but again, not nearly as expensive! Head out Branch Avenue and there are wonderful homes to be found in Hill Crest - and with large lots, gracious facades and lower price tags. There are lots of great opportunities in DC and surrounding areas that are still close in - like some of Prince Georges County, which deserve a closer look!
If you want to start your home search in the DC metro area just give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at email@example.com.