Thursday, April 01, 2010

Death, taxes and a building that's gonna fall


Decay
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
This is the alley side of 1607 New Jersey Avenue, NW. I've been told by one citizen living on this block that he's fearful when walking by this building because it looks like it is going to topple over at any moment. It's got missing bricks at the base on the alley. It bows out. Its got some pretty wicked looking cracks and I think that upper window is broken.
Well I took a look on the property tax database and 1607 is owned by Arvid W Broadus who is receiving the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction. Mr. Broadus is dead. According to the Social Security Death Index he died last year 16 Jan 2009 (born 30 Sep 1919) and unfortunately he didn't make it to his 90 birthday. Unfortunately for us, and anyone walking by this structure, it hasn't turned over to the living.

ADDITION- Apparently people still read this blog, even journalists. It appears Channel 7 did a story on this house.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Going down and taking everyone with it

A neighbor on my block must really love this neighborhood. Mainly because his (and his wife's) house is under construction for the 2nd... 3rd time? I lost count, but they've must have put in more money than the house is worth. The previous fixes have been mainly minor and one major thing. There was something dealing with poor drainage that plagued them for the longest. Well the current venture has them gutting the house. They didn't intend to gut the house, but when you start to pull up floors and knock away old plaster you discover fresh heart sinking, bank busting horrors, like I did when I had my house renovated.
One of the horrors discovered was a combo pack of a poor electrical, mixed with bad brick, which under the right conditions could take out 1/3 of the block in a house fire collapse situation. Okay maybe 1/8th of the block trusting that at least one connecting house was renovated well enough to block disaster. Yes. There are supposed to be fire blocks between these old row houses, but 'supposed to be' and 'actually is' aren't the same thing. Pulling away the drywall and plaster revealed failing brick load bearing walls, party and exterior walls with failed (questionable if brick was there in the 1st place) portions. Add these failed portions to an electrical system that came in contact with a leak and lint filled jerry rigged dryer vent, and we have the higher risk for fire. If the fire didn't come then the failing brick wall, if it fell, would definitely have taken the neighboring house with it.
A former TC resident once told me that you never really know what you have until you get down to the brick and the joists.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Quick Sale

This weekend a house near me got under contract, despite the price. Honestly, I thought $599K was too much, considering a house on the same block with a similar layout, but with a basement and a somewhat functional gas fireplace sold for about $150K less. Others who'd seen the interior of the higher priced home had said it was in move in condition and done very nicely. I saw the inside and admittedly couldn't play the IKEA/Home Depot game, but I swear one of the interior paint colors was the same as my dining room's. Ralph Lauren, Stony Mountain, NA15.
Well I gather the Real Estate market in the circle of Truxton, is healthy. That or someone really wants to live on our street. Maybe I'll go with the second theory as Sunday was nice out, which meant the cute 5 and under set were out riding their bikes and razors. "Hey look, if you had kids they'd be playing with these kids by now." And the people with dogs chatting with the neighbors doing things in their yards. For a while it was the best advertisement. A living brochure. A clean block (cleaned earlier that day by a neighbor) with happy children, a diverse (age & race) set of friendly looking adults being all frigging neighborly, smiling, laughing. That's worth about $150K right there.
So putting your house on the market anytime soon? Somehow pick the nicest day for an open house and during the open house, convince your neighbors to make your block look like it's fricking Sesame Street. Guaranteed sale.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So far, so good

After chatting with neighbors on the phone and passing by with the old snow shovel (but we're running out of places to shovel it) I found out I'm okay comparatively.
1- I haven't torn anything in my leg and thusly I'm not crippled like one poor soul.
2- My roof, so far is holding. The folks down the block suffered a partial roof collapse.
3- And the furnace still works. Last I spoke with another set of neighbor's whose heat went out. Hopefully they can get it back up and running again.
4- Luckily no one expects me to be at work as the Federal gov'mit is closed. Unfortunately, a good friend of mine who is a contractor, (lowly paid, not the big money type), can't work when we're closed and will have to find a way to eat the week of non-work he's not getting paid for.

I cleaned off the roof of my first floor kitchen and knocked off some of the ice icicles from the safety of a window. There is a big hunk of ice weighing down one section of the gutter that I couldn't reach safely. Sigh. I'll try to deal with that tomorrow. I've been checking some of the old cracks in the kitchen ceiling and so far no change. My next door neighbor is very worried about his roof and shoveled it. I'm just trusting that the equally spread out weight and some fixes after the gut job renovation helped.
Here's to praying for sun and above freezing temps.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Truxtun, townhouses, and misc


osaycanusee.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
How was your weekend? Mine was supposed to be spent finishing up the Ten Days of Truxtun, which I didn't do, so no Tom Truxtun today.
Somewhere among the row of townhouses on 4th Street, one has popped up for sale recently, making 3 houses on 4th Street on the market. I've been inside 2 of the 3. Going from highest to lowest is 1714 4th St NW on the market for $519K. It's got an apartment downstairs and I haven't been inside. It is next to a green space neighbors carved out of an abandoned lot, and parking that according to records is another lot, but looks like part of the road. On a smaller lot with no off street parking and no alley is 1547 4th St NW at $479,900. I've been in it. From what I can remember the basement is not a separate unit. It is also on the same block as the mosque. But residents of that block tell me they sometimes mentally block out the calls to prayer. Lastly is 1619 4th St NW on the market for $439K. The backyard is deep and has a wide alley. An alley wide enough for dump truck to go through, so trash is collected alley side. One could park in this backyard or if you have a compact car, carve out some parking and have a decent back patio. The fireplace in this house is a gas fireplace, and not the old fashioned find wood and throw it in kinds. That fireplace does warm up the house pretty nicely. A few things I dislike about the listing is that the neighborhood listed is "Convention Center/Shaw". Well at least the Shaw part is right.
If you have questions about the neighborhood surroundings of these houses feel free to email me at mari at inshaw punt com.
Miscellany? Friends don't let friends get Obama chias. I would take a picture of the current state of the Obama Chia, but it looks so wrong. The chia is so uneven and spotty, it is sad.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yellow house


Yellow house
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Yellow, very yellow. On Q St.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fun With Redfin- Affordable Housing

Okay, I want a house 2 blocks from the metro, with more than 1,500 square feet, a nice sized southern facing backyard, decent front yard, quiet, near a good restaurant/coffee shop, with parking, in northwest, in move in condition for about $200,000.

You can stop laughing now.

I'm about 4-4.5 blocks from the metro, small yards, no parking, quiet??? depends, under 1,500 even counting the cellar, in NW, and close enough to Big Bear. However, I would have to be either mentally insane or desperate for a quick sale to even consider selling my lovely home for anything in the $200K range.

So with that in mind let's head over to Redfin to see what's selling around the hood for less than $200K and $300K. In the general Shaw area, you can get a parking space for something in the $30K range, a foreclosed condo for $165K, and a short sale condo for $159K in the same building. Over in Mt. Vernon Square there is still 481 Ridge Street NW on the market for $199,900. Yes, it will require a lot of work, but come on, it's two blocks from the metro, a couple of blocks from the Safeway. What's not to love?
There are two actual 'affordable housing' co-op units available up near U Street. The listing reads as, "PURCHASER MUST BE APPROVED BY COOP AND MAKE LESS THAN $48,800.00 For Single Buyer and $51,200.00 for two buyers." However the monthly co-op fee, and explains why co-ops are so cheap, is $1,045.
When you bump up the search to include places $300K or less there are more choices than the odd foreclosure and short sale. More foreclosures and short sales. There is a short sale in the Rhapsody, a foreclosure on 6th St, on and 5th St in that weird funky looking townhouse with the thing in front. There are some regular places that either need lotsa work, or some work, or are 1 bedroom condos (see here, here and here). I dunno what category to put 36 Q NW, a 4 bedroom condo @ $295K that's been on the market for 585 days. What's wrong with it?

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So what's wrong with 481 Ridge St?

Okay it's over in MVSQ-land but I've seen it listed and it is affordable, so what's wrong with 481 Ridge St NW? I mean it's listed for $199,900. Two blocks from the metro. Walking distance to Gallery Place-Chinablock, the Safeway, a bunch of stuff I like.
What is it riddled with termites? Dead bodies under the floorboards? What?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to the drawing board


1721 4 St NW
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I've told a friend that if you want to get active in this neighborhood there are lots of fights to get involved with. There is the billboard fight, the dog park, the Cook school, and closer to me zoning issues. The poorly painted house is on next weeks's ANC 5C's agenda. The owner wants to add a fourth floor. At the last ANC meeting, where he, the owner, wasn't listed on the agenda, he apparently agreed to keeping the mansard roof. However when appearing before the BZA (Board of Zoning Adjustment) the owner's drawings had a gabled (think suburban house roof) roof. It will be interesting to see if the owner took the BZA's recommendations to heart.
Also the Cook School is on the meeting's agenda as well.

ANC 5C Meeting
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
7:00pm -9:00pm
All Nations Church
Rhode Island at North Capitol Street, NE

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Housing Under $250K

I was noticing a photo, more like a screen shot, from Scenic Artisan of the Redfin graphic showing housing under $250K. They are pretty much all east of the Park. Rock Creek Park, the one of several big dividing lines. The other things that divide are 16th Street NW and the Anacostia River.
And there is a big ole cluster of under $250K 2 bedroom, 1 bath houses east of the River, over near Capitol Heights. There are a few in what looks to be Petworth, parts of Columbia Heights and Brightwood. There are a couple in Truxton Circle proper. One is on the corner of 3rd and P as an as is. There is another on Florida Ave. But the problem with Florida Avenue, well a problem for me, is that there is almost no space between your front door and the sidewalk of a very busy street. In the NE, non-Shaw part of Truxton (see I love confusing y'all) on Florida is another house for $170K. Also no room between the front door and the crappy sidewalk.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Housing Dirt

Yesterday I was looking at my rear kitchen wall which has some fairly new and widening cracks (ah the joys of home ownership). Because of some funky fencing, part of my wall is on my neighbor's side of the fence. So I went over to his place and took a look at the part of the wall I couldn't see from my side of the fence. While I was over on his side chatting with him I did mention some of the dirt some of the other neighbors were saying about the construction quality of his place. From what I can remember the guys said that the contractor didn't make the foundation for the addition deep enough and the addition violated the 60-40 rule.
I'm glad I mentioned it as I felt bad about warning/ telling him early on as a buyer. But really how do you which people are actually going to buy the house?
And yesterday I got an email asking about a house, that is up for sale. The email wanted to know about the neighborhood and the street and so on, but the description of the house was close enough to a house I know that more than likely has some serious structural issues. So let me say if you're thinking of buying a house on the 100-200 block of Q Street, check the roof structure. If you or your home inspector can't see the roof joists, don't buy unless you are prepared to replace the whole roof.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Prevent a Pop-up

Well we can make this a test case. Can you kill a pop up without one of those pesky historic district doohickies?
Here's the situation, there is to be a BZA hearing for 1721 4th Street, N.W. It's the blue house that's being worked on that's across the alley from the Fourth Street Cleaners. Anyway, the owner, a nice guy I'm told, has an application #17934, for a variance from the nonconforming structure provisions under subsection 2001.3, to allow a third story addition to an existing flat (two-family dwelling) in the R-4 District. Third story addition, read Pop-up.
Now pop-ups can be cool, or they can be complete pieces of crap. It could be the house near the corner of R & 5th (cool) or the monstrosity on the unit block of P St NE, or the 1/2 done thing on the 300 block of P NW.

TRIVIA- 1721 4th St NW sits on the block that was owned by the Glorius family from the 1880s to the 1900s, which was later sold to Harry Wardman.

** Public Hearing***
Start Time : 7/28/2009 10:00 AM
AGENDA
Case Number : 17934
Case Name : Application of Behzad Hosseinkhani
Case Summary : (Area Variance) pursuant to 11 DCMR 3103.2, for a variance from the nonconforming structure provisions under subsection 2001.3, to allow a third story addition to an existing flat (two-family dwelling) in the R-4 District at premises 1721 4th Street, N.W. (Square 516, Lot 54).
ANC : 5C01
BZA notice

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cheap House on 4th Street


1604-1610 4th St
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
The yellow one is 189K, per Redfin. That is cheap, and I take it the bank finally took it over as it was sitting at $350,000 for what seemed like a year and had now dropped below $200K. This baby appears priced to sell.
Here is what I know, which isn't much. The property was owned by a guy whose name I keep messing up, starts with a 'K', who owns or owned several rental properties in the area. This was one. The house has a basement and similar homes have rented out the bottom part, but I don't know if those are legal basements. It has no real front yard, and a very shady back yard. The back yard is big enough to park a Smart Car, or maybe a classic Mini Cooper. There used to be a family in the house until Mr. K encountered his financial problems.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Small house design is a talent

Sometimes you don't realize that certain things require talent until you've seen the task carried out so badly, you wanna cry. I pitty the real estate agent trying to push 1708 4th St NW, because it is 1,326 sq ft squandered. It's supposed to be a three bedroom, more accurately, it is one bedroom and two small offices. Okay one of those offices could have a twin bed or child's bed, but it would be tight and the closet door would need to be removed. I'm trying to think if my cubicle at work has more square footage than the other bedroom.
I could design something better than that with a pencil some paper and a copy of Not So Big House. Heck, with my own house, I think I did. Though the living area is about 1000 sq ft., I don't think it feels cramped. Yes, my bedroom is the size of a nice walk in closet, but it is big enough for a bed, a small wardrobe, small dresser and a big pile of dirty clothes that I really need to wash.
There were several mistakes, in my opinion, with 1708 4th St. Let's start with the 1st floor. The stairs are not up to code, maybe because to get anything big (couch, fridge, etc) through the front door and into the house, you're taking out part of the stair railing. The fireplace is in a wierd spot. Does a gas fireplace add so much to a property that even a tiny wierdly placed one works? The kitchen is okay. I recognize it as an IKEA Akurum/Rationell style kitchen. IKEA understands small spaces. The second floor is where the tiny bedroom/offices are. The hallway is nice and big, but there is something wrong when the bathroom on that floor seems bigger than one of the bedrooms. I kid. However, I would have made the bathroom a 3/4 bath to get a few more feet for the bedroom. If a tub is needed, use the one on the 3rd floor. The thrid floor bathroom is big and the window faces the street. Plantation shutters will be required. Outside the back and front yards are paved with concrete. These can be improved with some container plants.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mural- Or more paint on houses

Multi-mural 2This mural is at the corner of 12th and W. Though interesting it does not come close to the great Watermelon mural of Q and 11th Sts NW.
I'm trying to talk one of my neighbors into slapping a mural on the side of his house. He's an artist and has done murals before, so if the desire is there it can be done. However, his wife, who've I haven't spoken to about a mural, might not be too keen on the idea.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A good Pop-up


I don't believe all pop-ups are ugly. Unfortunately there are tons of bad pop-ups that we can point to so one can get the impression that there is no such thing as a good pop-up. There is one example I like to point to of a good rooftop addition.
Over on the 1600 block of 5th Street, NW between R and Warner there is a house with a cute rustic addition. I've been inside once and the owners did a wonderful job with creating a new space in their home. Maybe the key in this is that it was designed and done by the people who were intending to live in the home and not a know-nothing small time developer/contractor trying to stuff a few more square feet on to a small lot.
A few things makes this addition work. One is that it is on the end of a row of houses. You can get away with more on the end than you can in the middle. If the style changes up on the end of a bunch of uniform houses, it doesn't break the pattern. Second, the addition, including the railing is set back from the street. Third, there isn't a big empty space on the addition between the top of the roof and the top of the door/window. There is another pop-up on S Street, that's lovely from the back but on the front there is this empty space that makes the front of the addition, 'blah'.
I think the most important factor was that the addition was put on for the people who live in the house, and not some unknown buyer to be gouged of money.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Blue on Marion St


I showed this picture to a co-worker who also lives in the District. He said if someone painted their house that color in his part of town the neighbors would throw a huge hissy fit. They live in the Chevy Chase area.
Colorful townhomes are some of the things I like about Shaw and neighborhoods like it. There is a bit of funk, and individuality and variety in our style.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

26 P St NE- Tall piece of crap for sale.. 1.5 mil

100_0787.JPGI believe in the Invisible Hand. And I believe the Invisible Hand, in it's own time, will smite those sellers who have no respect for buyers.
26 P Street, NE, that butt ugly pop up across the street from DDOT's parking lot, is on the market, for $1,500,000.00, down from the earlier 1.7 mil price tag.
There are several pieces of crap that have languished on the market, mucked up by small time 'developers' who have been b*tch slapped by the Invisible Hand (see weird condo on Q & Marion ). This is another that I bet will sit, unsold and vacant for years.
The seller's must be on crack or something, as per the script for the property listing:
Must Sell NOW. This property will Double in price in two years please check the area by visiting www.nomabid.org. this building is a New Construction. four units configured as residential but has c-3-c zoning - many business applications. four stories, nine bedrooms/nine bath. Great view of US Capital and Monument. Fantastic future and location. very close to new york ave metro/red line. harris teeters market, Dept of Justise, major hotels, returants, retail openning soon.

Location Description:
Few block to US Capital/union station.

One- run spell check. For anything over $200K run spell check.

Will double in 2 years? Only if the additional two floors are torn down, the burnt shells next door are bought and the group of lots are razed and a good architect designs a building. Not your blind kid brother who took some design classes online and thinks he can draw a pretty building.

'New construction.' New and fugly. However I'd question the quality of the construction considering that the top floors is evidence of bad decision making.

'four units configured as residential but has c-3-c zoning - many business applications. four stories, nine bedrooms/nine bath.' The zoning I think is a clue into the height. But the whole business/residential thing is a clue the the builders had no clue.

'Few block to US Capital/union station'. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Now there are the folks who say, well, if you had historic district, this would never happen. Well, to quote another neighbor, I chose not to live in an historic district, and I take the risks that come with that decision. And if someone throws up one of those ugly additions, that's the chance I take. For myself, I believe that builders who vomit up these additions are rewarded with a building that doesn't sell. And I hope that the more I point out that ugly DC pop ups (as opposed to the few popups and additions that aren't crap) don't sell, builders won't put them up.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun with ProQuest:1825 T Street NW

Yes, this is a couple of blocks west of 16th Street, so definately not in Shaw. But I came across a Washington Post article* when looking for Northwest slum housing with no electricity. 1825 T Street was built as negro housing, replacing 5 frame houses that once sat on that spot. It was part of a plan to clear (tear down) slum housing from 16th to Conneticut Avenue. Currently they are condos, and appear to have been condos since the 80s. I thought it was interesting, so thus, I post.

*"Apartments To Replace Slum Area." by Robert P. Jordan. The Washington Post (1877-1954) [Washington, D.C.] 9 Jul 1950,R1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The Washington Post (1877 - 1992). ProQuest.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Legal notice for 418 N Street

Just a brief mention, I noticed in the legal notices 418 N Street, NW over in Mount Vernon Square is on the auction block. According to the notice Harvey West Auctioneers is auctioning off the property January 13th. In the pictures at this site, it is the white one that isn't on fire.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

DC will auction off nuisance properties

Their own properties that is.
You've complained about them. I've complained about them. DC owned properties that do nothing but harbor rats and trash. Well it looks like they are on the auction block (HT: Bloomingdale Blog)
Let me point out two Shaw properties on the auction block, 1713 New Jersey Ave. NW and 1504 6th St. NW. Most of the properties are in NE, and Columbia Heights. They all look like shells. But some of them are huge looking mansions, shells of mansions but huge. They'd probably make some well endowed non-profit a nice home.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

214 P St NW


Vacant on P 2
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Broken windows, bad paint, weedy yard, just a lot of ugly. According to the DC tax database this vacant house is a class 3 exeception, so it is paying regular taxes, and not the vacant house rate. The owner is Steward Investments in Clinton, MD and they came to possess it in 2006 for 419K.
I am not going to quibble about that value, as the house next door is up for sale for $750K.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This Could Be Yours For $199K


1624 4th St NW
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Looking on Redfin there are a few places in NW DC that can be had for less than $200K. This is one. It will more than likely need work. However, it may be one of those things you can fix up while living rough. Sort of a bachelor project or something for a super handy couple.
Yet, it is interesting to see the number "1" in front of the numbers for some abodes again. Haven't seen that number starting housing prices since 2003. Don't be fooled by the 4 bedroom 3 bath claim. Houses on that side of the street are small and are usually 2 bedroom and at the most 2 bathrooms.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1555 4th St NW 4 Sale


1555-4thSt.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
This house on a corner lot up for sale $450K. According to Redfin, there are tenants and the current rent for the two unit thing is $2600. You can keep the tenants, keep 1/2 or take the whole thing and have a big ole house.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

1700 4th NW 4 Sale


1700 Blk of 4th NW
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I believe it was the house of this gentleman that I wanted to interview. I could be wrong. Someone on Sq 507correct me if the elderly man lives in another one of the red houses.
1700 4th is the 1st red house, detached looking, up for sale. The Redfin page for the house, says
bank owned victorian townhouse w/ in-law suite to be sold strictly 'as-is'. Seller will not make improvements. Strong lender letter and/or proof of funds to close are required with all offers.

It is listed as a four bedroom going for $489,900 on what appears to the the tiniest lot evah. Seriously, it seems to hit the rear of two houses on R St. But if you don't need or want rear access, then I guess it is all good. Sorta like a condo, yard wise.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crap house, 1/2 a mill


POP-up.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
According to our friends at redfin, this lovely piece of crap is up for sale for $500,000. As you see, it is a shell.
Here is what the script about it says:
APPROVED PLANS AND PERMITS EXISTS FOR THIS ONE STOREY ADDITION AND CONDO CONVERSION TO 2 BED 2.5 BATH LUXURY CONDOS. .. .STARTED CONDO REGISTRATION, PLUMBING, FOUNDATION AND BLOCKWORK TO 3RD FLOOR, INTERIOR FRAMING AND ROOFING. ONE OF PRIVATE LENDERS DIED, THE ESTATE EXECUTORS PRESSED TO CLOSE HIS ACCOUNTS, BUILDER/OWNER COULD NOT FINISH WORK; WHAT A DISTRESS. I NEED A QUICK SALE, BRING ALL OFFERS PLEASE.

First, I am sorry for your loss.
Second, Luxury.... There is nothing luxury about this, no guarantee that it would have been luxury even if a lender lived, and was just really sick.
And, third, my mind races wondering, ok, your individual, not a bank or financial institution, lender dies, what does that have to do with anything? I could understand if a part owner, part investor died that would be a problem for the other owner/investor and builder. But if my lender/ mortgage bank was to implode, go out of business, etc, then my mortgage would get sold to another lender, as it is an asset.

So let me get this straight. You buy a property at the top of the market for $405K in 2005. You screw around with it to try to turn it into two condos, mess up the windows, and throw a pop up on top, which could be incredibly ugly. The city discovers, hey, this is vacant and in 2008 starts charging you at the vacant rate and now you owe $13K in taxes, some of it looking like back taxes from 2007 too. At some point somebody necessary to this scheme passes on to the great beyond. And so you place this mess on the market, during a downturn.
Best of luck with that.
My deepest condolences to the people who have to live near this.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Houses to be demolished

I'd gotten several emails about the structures to be demolished on North Capitol and Hanover Place. I haven't followed through and posted anything, but luckily, Bloomingdale (for Now) did. He's got pictures.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gonna Take More Than A Coat Of Paint For This Baby


1620 4th St NW 61.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Up on the auction block is 1620 4th St NW. This weekend B., I.T. and I took a look at this house that is listed for $250K. I'm guessing that's where the bank wants to start bidding. Last time it went to auction it was in the $300,000 range and didn't get sold.
Taking a closer look at it, the interior is a mess and it was designed by crackheads. The small bathroom has wasted space near the toilet. There is very little closet space, considering there could be more, and something that could be used as storage is closed off. Then there is the wood rot around the windows (see picture) and the water damage in the back bedroom.
There were some 'investors' sniffing around. As a short term investment this is a no. I guess it would take $60-$100K of work, and I don't think the average rent amount for the area, plus taxes would rake in the dough. Besides we kind of prefer owner occupiers 'round here. Not that renters are bad. We've had some wonderful rehabs done by owner occupiers who have up and moved due to marriage or job and are renting their places out, and those places are fine. It's the ones where the owner approached it as a rental (or a developer as a flip) and did superficial work that are undesirable.
There are more pictures just put in "1620 4th St" as a search term in flickr and the pix I took will show up.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Fire at 1530 3rd Street

Thank goodness for Truxtoncircle.org or else I wouldn't know about these things...
On Wednesday a house on 3rd Street caught on fire. Pictures of the incident are over at DCFD, who reports that the Fire Department responded to the report of there being people trapped. However, there doesn't seem to be anything else saying if there actually were people inside.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Jolly's Mommy in the Post

If you knew Jolly, he was the wheezing slow walking chicken bone finding beagle of Richardson Pl. Well his mommy (who is also the mommy of a child and another child to be) got featured in the Post magazine. I'm trying to figure out how I missed the article completely, so thanks Scott Roberts.
Though the family has just recently relocated for a great new job for Ben, Lyric is still running her house staging business Red House Staging here in DC. Lyric loves what she does, and it is wonderful to see that it is possible to create a career that brings you joy.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

NW TC houses 4Sale


100_0945.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Mrs. Gibb's house is no longer popping up on Redfin so that leaves me to gather that it is under contract. I hope that goes well. The house next to hers (yellow house in picture), 1628 3rd Street, is up for sale for the sweetheart price of $284,900, I wonder what's wrong with it? It's advertising itself as a 3 bedroom 1 bath "bayfront Victorian showing age and in need of a redo. Classic floorplan, everything painted, but orig mantels, 2 sets of pocket doors in place."
The two 4th St NW houses that were on the market, then went off the market, are back on. This time it says that the renters were given right of first refusal. Now even though the renters can't and don't want to buy the houses, it's nice (and legally required) to be asked. The prices for the rentals, still high, and I've been told about some 'issues' with one of the houses, that would need to be addressed. Knock the price down by $30- $50K as they will both eventually need work.
There is another house in the hood that I really want sold. Ok, not just sold, fixed up but owner occupied. But what can I do as a 3rd party? I'm seriously thinking of making up fliers to try to get that damned house sold, as it is becoming a nuisance.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Big Blue/Grey Off the Market


100_0767.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
If going by Redfin and ZipRealty, 1721 4th St, the big house with the 1/2 of a postage stamp back yard is off the market. Hopefully it is under contract, but we won't know if it actually sold for a while. Also on 4th St and are both off the market are 1608 & 1624 4th St NW. They are owned by the same guy and the places have renters, so I wonder if he's taken them off the market to sell later or get the renters out and fix up the places for sale. I heard he failed to present the renters with the right of first refusal. At the prices he's asking he's going to have to go in an make an effort (cleaning/ new paint/ maybe staging), or lower the price. I say lower the price, but we'll see what happens.
Over on 1st St NW, 1223 isn't popping up either, so I gather that's off the market as well. But the house next door at 1225 is still for sale for around $550K.

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Cheap TC house alert

$199,900 for 1506 3rd St NW. Sold As-Is and as a shell. From what I can remember (I need to walk by it) this house isn't in as bad of shape as the house next door was (very past tense) before it got fixed up. From the exterior it seems OK, but there could be a butt load of work needed. Pluses, big back yard. Minus, no alley access.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Mrs. Gibbs house up for sale

I blog this with a bit of sadness, because I'm not sure about the details. I met Mrs. Gibbs at the G2 bus stop. She is a small elderly slender woman and last I spoke with her she was caring for her husband in the home they've lived in since the post war period. Their house was filled with a life long and well lived. Logic tells me that time has caught up with them and so the house is up for sale.
1626 3rd St NW is being advertised as an "inherited home priced to sell." I knew the Gibbs had children who lived out in the burbs, and I gather they have no interest in moving back into the city to live in the family home. $350K is an excellent price. If they include "stuff" in the house, that is a steal. The interior is large, it faces the quiet side of the Northwest Co-op, its right on the Georgetown/Howard bus line, and it has a rear yard big enough for a minivan. Please don't let it go to an investor, but rather someone who wants to live here. The interior is well preserved and loved (well from what I could tell sitting in the living room), seriously, if you have an interest in trying to preserve interiors, buy this house, you will not regret it.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Poptops & Additions

1802 11th StWandering around Monday, I took a lot of pictures of houses, looking for 3rd story additions, some that can be called poptops and other additions that possibly could have been added some time after the structure was initially built. That being, say a house was built in 1899, in 1930 maybe an addition was thrown on. As a disclaimer for several of the buildings I've labeled poptop in flickr, I don't know for sure if they all are additions. What I am focusing on is the difference in height between their neighbors, and how well or not they blend in.
When I first saw the house at 435 S Street NW going up, I really didn't think anything nice looking would appear. Half right, half wrong. I was walking back from Thai X-ing walking down New Jersey Avenue at night, when I caught a glimpse of the rear of 435 with the lights burning through the large windows. I gasped at the beauty of it. It looked lovely. But the loveliness is limited to the back. The front, not as nice looking with the pedestrian looking vinyl siding and Home Depot door. Nothing that can't be later improved with stucco or brick tiles (or tiles) and a clear glass door.
Typically, when these additions are reported they tend to be the ugliest of ugly. I don't believe they have to be that way. Third floor additions can be quite nice. My favorite add-on is near the corner of R & 5th, and it is the only one where I've been inside to take a look. As I remember, the designer/homeowner was an engineer by trade and German. The top floor was a bedroom with a bathroom in a box, in front of a small landing that led out to the deck, that overlooks 5th St. The bathroom in the box was novel, in that it did not go all the way to the ceiling letting the outside light go over it and in it.
We have to acknowledge that people want/need more space. One way to get more space is to move out to the 'burbs. Yet, this other way, adding on to the homes we already have, can be done well, and keeps people in the city. We should encourage good design, instead of dismissing ALL 3rd floor additions because too many lack the vision to do them well.
Cabin on TopLastly, I leave you with this image spotted on the blog Desire to Inspire in their post about AJS Design in New York City. It's a little rooftop cabin. I think it is adorable.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Go Outside. Now.


Popped top on S?
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
The man on the TV said it was 70F degrees out
I took a little walk about this morning and it was just wonderful. The sky is blue and it is barely sweater weather, more like two shirts weather. I went on a picture taking trip looking for 3rd floor additions in Shaw, and found some. Also spotted families, dog walkers, doggies, hipsters, also getting out and enjoying the sunshine. If you're stuck inside an office, run out and just take15 minutes to bask in this lovely light.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

1st & Q.


100_0382.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
55 Q Street NW is up for sale but I was not entirely sure this was the same house. Why? Because the photo being shown on ZipRealty is a crappy magneta colored ugly thing from 2003. I'm encountering a lot of bad re-used photos on Ziprealty. Redfin is better. Anyway this house on the corner is going for 1/2 a milllllion dallahs, $500K.
It is a two unit building, a trend I noticed with some of the turn of the century homes that were built as investment properties. The rental units are bringing in $1340 & $1215 a month, $2555 in total. You'd need a big down payment to get the rentals to cover the price of the mortgage. People you wonder why renters get kicked out? Because their rent don't cover the mortgage and taxes.
Sorta on the other side of the street is 1537 1st St NW at the much cheaper price of $299K. And, it has parking.

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34 Q St NW 4Sale


100_0829.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I'm not sure which house is 34 Q. Actually, I've been flipping through my flickr collection and trying to match up houses for sale, and I really need to take more pictures.... and do a better job of taking the addresses.
From the description, I am guessing it is a short sale as the bank has to approve the price. But what you get for your $305,000 is a 10 bedroom 3 bath, 3500 sq ft vacant building with taxes high enough to make you cry if you keep it vacant. The price is a significant reduction from the $550K it started off as back in July of 2007. And the seller is taking a big hit as it was purchased in 2006 for $685K. *wince*

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Monday, February 11, 2008

1225 1st St NW for sale


1227First.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Okay last house for sale of the day. I will post no more till, maybe Friday or next week. Red house is for sale. Red, not vacant house, is on the market for $599,900. It is a two unit building with a paying tenant in one unit. The other unit I guess could go to the new owner or be rented out as well. But honestly, I rather have owner occupiers. Not that there is anything wrong with renters. Sometimes renters become owners.

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Nother 4th St house for sale


100_0768.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I need to find another street to hawk.
Anyway, vacant house 1721 4th St NW (the blue-gray one) is up for sale for the lovely price of $368,000. Apparently it is all historic being a two unit investment rental building, the way the developer intended it to be back in nineteen oh something. It's also an historic mess needing some structural work done on it. Other houses on the block are assessed in the $400-500K range so you can be somewhat justified in the $100-$200K you're going to have to sink into this thing to get it suitable for human habitation. Thankfully, this is not an HD so your rehab won't be too costly or lengthy. Sadly, the backyard is just big enough for a lawn chair and a tiny toy-sized dog.

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More houses on sale


1620-1626 4thSt
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
1620 (the tan house on the far left) and 1624 (the red painted with white trim) 4th St NW are up for sale.
1620 is a foreclosure and is the cheapest at $275,000. Now you might be thinking "Wow, $275,000 what an affordable bargain." Well I've been inside. Add $60-100K in repairs because that's what you'll need to make it decent. If you click on the full sized picture you might be able to see on the top right window, the bricks are doing something and look like they are about to pop out. Let's say there are issues the house has that aren't cosmetic. But neither are those things something that need to be addressed right now, but they need to be addressed in the next few years.
I've been inside 1624 too and I could have sworn it had AC, so I don't know why there is a window unit in the top window. It is going for $390K. It's not fancy. It's got renters in it, so it is in a livable condition, unlike 1620. It's okay looking and I'm not really sure what justifies that price. Of course it has only been on the market for 2 weeks.
Both 1620 and 1624 4th St have backyards big enough to fit a compact car in, and nothing else. Well maybe a Mini Cooper and a deck chair. Or enough of a rear yard to send the dog out back to do the doo when you're too cold or too busy to take him out.
Both also have a one story kitchen attached to the main part of the house. Three houses further down the block have expanded, replacing the one story part to a two story, adding more square footage and look quite nice from the alley. So that is a possibility, more so with 1620 because of its price and its need for repair.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

1631 4th ST NW for sale


1629-1633 4th St
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I had a longer post on this but accidentally closed the window and lost it all. So a summary from what I remember: Not a foreclosure but a bank short sale. House is $415K, a down payment of 20% or 83K, would possibly make it $1,990 a month. Monthly RE taxes would be $315.00. There are renters in the house now and I have no idea of what a 3 bedroom 2 bath house rents for around these here parts to know if the house is actually a decent investment.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Yes, it is ugly


100_0787.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
Prince of Pentworth has a more up to date picture and others are calling for the mighty hammer of HDs to come in and save the day. I say there is another way, but the problem is more than this one property. This is a unit block of ugly, historic ugly, plain ugly, and cheap modern fugly. Let's start with the fugly shall we?
If I have identified the house right the place is 26 P St NE, owned by Payam Mobin of Hollowerind Court, Reston, VA. Mobin bought the property 11/17/05 for $363,000 and should have known better, but some people want to make things hard on themselves. Anyway, Mobin decided to throw an ugly monster pop up on the thin property. I can imagine a nicer looking pop-up but it would have been pointless because of all the other stuff to consider.
Next door is historically ugly. The two houses to the left of 26 P is 22 & 24 P, both burned out shells. Owned by DM McCoy (24 P) and the 22 P St LLC at 137 R ST SW. Nicely, both are being taxed at the vacant property rate, and their assessment seemed to have jumped up by 2X. Next to those shells is a 'parking lot', whose assessment for 2008 is about 5x what it was for 2007. Next to the parking lot are Refuge of Hope Disciple Center's (Capitol Heights, MD) vacant lots, and those lots have not been taxed. No taxes apparently have been collected for 2007 for any of RoHDC's properties on P. Zip. Nada. And they've owned those lots for over a decade. What's up with that? How is it charitable, when there is no building to dispense the charity?
Next door to fugly is 28 P a vacant house owned by Sang Lee of Oakton, VA paying over $8K in taxes for 2007. On the end of the block, where P meets Florida, there is a gas station. Not terribly bad, not terribly pretty. There seems to be 3 households living on this unit block of P. Everything else is vacant or commercial or crap, or all three.
Going back to modern fugly, I looked at DCRA's permit list but sadly, it is only for those issued in the past couple of months (OCT07-FEB08). Might actually have to walk up to the damned thing and see if the permit is valid. Heighwise, it may be a matter of right because the area is zoned to allow that high because it is a commercial area. Across the street from this is the DDOT parking lot. Conceviably, one could knock down the shells, the lots, and the monstrosity and build a decent looking 4-5 level building that complements the Peoples Drug Building that DDOT occupies. But this thing is so skinny and so badly designed that it is ugly.
So ugly I can't imagine it being a sound investment, short of a halfway house. Then if, that, I'm sure it will go well nicely with whatever the Refuge of Hope might be planning.
Seriously, this side of the block would be better off razed, the three resident households compensated for their trouble and turned into a huge community garden. 'Cause it's just that F*ed up.

UPDATE:
Wrong about 3 households, make it 2. One household, 32 P St NE, owned by "HENRIETTA BERRIN" and taxed at the senior citizen rate of $0 for all of 2007 and $35.22 for 2005 is DEAD. Dead, dead, dead, dead. Deady-dead dead. Well according to the Social Security Death Index. Apparently she died May 20, 2005. Well, she's now the second dead person paying taxes I know of, wait, no, she hasn't paid taxes, 'cause she didn't owe any. Ain't DC Gov generous with the departed?

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Landlord calls it quits?

A landlord who owns two houses on my street has recently put his houses up for sale. He originally bought the houses for $80K and $139K and is now listing them for $390K and $450K. I think that is a tad too much. Not only because it'll make my assessment go up, but if anyone hasn't heard there is a slow down in the RE market. Knock off about $50K from both of them to be somewhat ok.
Both places still have renters in them. There has been some gossip/rumor on the street that these are Section 8 houses. One house's residents are pretty good, don't make a lot of noise, not a lot of traffic going in or out, no people hanging in front, in essence they fit in. The other house, well they are much, much better now as opposed to when the residents first arrived.
So the $840,000 question is if the houses sell, will they remain rentals?
Let me throw in a pitch to encourage you to buy one of these houses (when the price gets lowered to something reasonable) so you can live on my block. One, we have a wonderful little block, where if you do stuff in your yard, you will totally make friends with your neighbors. If your interests include cycling, motorcycles, gardening, construction, or your toddler/baby, you will find friends. It's not too hard to find a parking spot (but not super easy either). The lower priced house has some decent yard space, and a rear yard that, if you have no plans to grow anything back there, you could turn into a parking spot for a compact car.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

People over things

This comes out of some email correspondence I had this week about an inquiry about a Shaw house's history. Sometimes you can find the date of when something was built, sometimes not. The date on my lovely domicile is based on tax records, one year it's taxed as land, next year land and an improvement, no permit, and zilch about a builder. However, my interest in structures, my own particularly, is based on maintenance and bases for complaints when it comes to maintenance and the inadequacies of the building.
I have a greater interest in flesh and blood than bricks and mortar. People do things, they go to work, they have families, they have relationships, they have a story, and the place where they live is absolutely uninteresting without them.
And the people I'm most interested in are the ones who lived around here. This is to differentiate from the landlords who most likely, didn't. I'm picking up from some of you a thinking that the focus should be on the property owner. Maybe in other parts of the country, maybe the place where you came from, people built and bought homes to live in. Maybe they made their little plot, a family home, where at least one generation would remember it fondly as the place they grew up and a place to return. Not the case here. The owners were landlords, their family homes were elsewhere. In the case of the woman who once owned my house, it was just another investment, something that could be bought and sold and rented out for income.
From the 1880 to 1930 census stuff I've seen, there were a lot of renters in the neighborhood. And I've noticed these people moved around. I was trying to find out who was the earliest family to live at a certain TC house on the 1500 blk of 1st Street. I found the family living there a few years after the date the house was built, and when I went back through the city directory (arranged by name) to see if the house existed a previous year (and it would be confirmed by that family being there in those previous years), that family lived further up 1st in Eckington.
The fun question then becomes, why move around? Why stay in a place for only a few years only to move 1/4 mile somewhere else? Why can't you stay in one spot? The building just sits there, and doesn't generate a lot of questions for me. The building is the backdrop, the scenery, the stage, but the play is nothing without the performers.
I've rambled enough, but sometime later I want to return to the idea of what it means to be an area with a very restless renter population.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Townhouses of Truxton


SomethingBsidesRed.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I really don't have much to blog about today as I am still recovering from the nasty cold that had me off of work for two days, couch bound and missing church this weekend.
If you haven't noticed I've been adding to my Flickr set "Townhouses of Truxton" slowly but surely and it has been filling out quite nicely. I've got P-R Streets covered as well as Bates, 1st and 4th. I could stand to do more with Florida and New York Avenues and more of the Hanover (or any Hanover, I got no Hanover St) street area. My goal is to try to show the variety and similarity of the buildings from the late 20th Century Co-op that commands a nice chunk of upper Truxton to the early 20th Century mass produced investment housing (lest y'all start waxing romantic about Victorians), to the cramped 19th century Federals that by the Grace of G-d haven't crumbled into dust.
There are over 120 photos in the set and I'll add more as I get out early enough to take pictures when few people are milling about.
There are also pix of houses in the NE section of the TC. For most things I tend to cut Truxton off at North Cap, but for the fun of it, I'm adding the section that really isn't in Eckington and has only a handful of houses.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

403 R St NW

Broken Windows Well another vacant house for your viewing. This one is at 403 R Street NW, owned by Dorothy Farr of 57th Ave S, Seattle, WA, who got the property in 2003 and surprise there is no available data about a 'sold for' amount. But there is something interesting. This property has a Class 3 exception. Class 3 is the vacant property rate where one is charged $5 per $100 in house value. However, one can get an exemption by doing work on the property or having it up for sale. Because the government is way too smart to just take your word for it, you gotta go through the motions, and on the door of 403 R St there are building permits.
Yet, these date back to 2004, and from my observations, not much has happened since 2004, except the yard gets mowed. The windows are broken and the downstairs window is cinderblocked. The building is secure, but I don't know if that requires a permit. And according to my permits the authorized work must start within one year of the date the permit was issued, or the permit expires. And if the permit is expired then someone shouldn't be getting a Class 3 exception for construction. Maybe it's for sale.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Maybe and very vacant


100_0768.JPG
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
I have been told that the blue paint peeled house is vacant. It doesn't look vacant to me, so let's ignore it, shall we. However the lavender and white house is vacant as it has the plywood that says, "Hi, I'm vacant!"
These are 1721 and 1719 4th St NW, which sit on square 519. Square 519 has a special place in my heart as it was the land owned by German immigrant George Glorius, florist. On this land once upon a time sat his green house and his house where he lived with his wife and children. Now, off the top of my head (note I will probably update later) sometime in 190-something, Mr. & Mrs. Glorius sold most or all of this land to some horrid developer, who changed the character of the block by building a bunch of similar looking houses on it. I believe the developer was Harry Wardman.
Anyway I digress. 1719 4th St NW is owned by a Henry C Gregory of Argyle Terr. NW, WDC 20011. The Atlas Map page for DC.gov lists a transaction date of 1/1/2001 and a sales figure of $0.00. The RE Property database has no date of sale. But long story short Mr. Gregory has owned the property for a while. As of 12/27/07 the property has a "Special Assessment" of $606.00. The 2007 taxes of $4519.24 have been paid and there is no homestead deduction.
[Portion about 1721 4th removed as I'm really not sure it is vacant].
While I'm fooling around with things vacant on square 519, there is a lot to the left of 1719 that is a vacant lot. A Ms. Deborah Lara is listed as the owner of 1717 4th St NW. Ms. Lara of Avalon PL in Hyattsville, MD got possession of the property October 20, 2003 for an unknown amount and currently owes $365.51 in taxes for 2007.

UPDATE: I walked by 1721 and there is definitely a padlock on the door, so I guess it is vacant.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vacant house


Well, because all the other cool blogs are doing it, I present to you a vacant house. It is 219 P St NW, built in 1906, currently owned by a Mr. Crespo of Dunn Loring, VA, who bought the place February 2007 for $265K. All this is on the DC.Gov website, and since the current owner has had it for less than a year, I'm going to go easy and not post the other public information.
I debated about blogging about specific vacant houses in the TC. There are a number of vacant houses in the TC, like the rest of Shaw, but not all of them are obviously vacant, and I didn't want to attract any great amount of attention to those. So I'm going with the obviously vacant, and 219 P is with it's busted windows and ratty looking yard.
As far as taxes go, it's had its woes. Currently it is assessed at $270,600, but will jump to $354,020 in 2008. looking at it's past tax bills and payments, whoever owned it previously let the tax bill get up to $8K in 2005 and 2006. There is a Clean City bill for $70.00 and a 1998 trash bill of $613.87. Hopefully the old obligations were cleared up when the property changed hands.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Foreclosure, probably not that great of a deal

I live next door to a foreclosed house.
The story, from what I can piece together is that long time ago, say 15-20 years ago, some Ethiopian guy bought the house as an investment property. According to a neighbor on the block, he did rent it out but left it vacant for about 7 years. Then for about a year or two he rented to some Ethiopian sisters, one of whom got married and they all moved away. Then the Ethiopian owner sold it to another Ethiopian for way too much at the top of the market. This new Ethiopian owner rented to an Ethiopian family who stayed for a few months, and then the house sat empty. And then it went into foreclosure and the bank owns it. The bank tried to sell it for close to what the guy paid for it, and it sat. Then about every 1.5 months they would decrease the price. It remains unsold.
A friendly Vietnamese couple looked at the house and were very interested. So much so that one day they brought an inspector with them. I'd like the house to sell, but I also want any future owners to be aware that there are some busted pipes in the house, as the pipes failed last winter sending water into my basement. So the couple took in that information and went around with the inspector. They spent an awful lot of time looking at the rear kitchen portion of the house, which if anything like mine, is structurally crappy. The stucco is cracked and red brick dust seeps through. The layout of the 2nd floor is, challenging. Anyway, they didn't buy it. I'm sure the numbers just didn't work out. The amount the house was selling for, plus the amount to fix the busted piping (which would mean taking up portions of the floor and possibly finding mold) just to make it suitable for human habitation, was more than likely far above it's market value. That's not even addressing the structural and mechanical issues, nor is the price of making it 'nice' as opposed to 'not condemned'.
Let me throw in some numbers. The house at the time the couple looked at it was $310,000. This is for a townhouse of about 1,000-1,200 sf. nothing fancy, aged AC unit, blown in heat, busted pipes, electrical systems a big unknown, weedy front and back yards, and appliances over 10 years old. Plumbers cost money. So say there isn't any mold under the house and you just need to fix/ replace the pipes, and it can be done from a crawlspace hatch, so there is no replacing the floor? Well that's over $3K, based on how much I've paid to have a 'simple' plumbing job done in an easy to access area. But there could be mold, and the floor might need to be taken up. And while you're doing that you might as well gut the whole thing. When I asked how much someone, doing it all themselves spent to gut and fix their own house, which is similar in size to mine, the amount was about $60K. I paid well over that, let's just say my contract had a $80K limit, we hit the limit and there was still stuff (like installing heat and AC) that needed to be done when I ran out of money. That amount doesn't include the paint, the tub, and other materials I bought myself.
The houses on the block, sans basements, are assessed for around $350K. I'm somewhat doubting that whoever buys the house is willing to put into it more than its market worth. The bank may have to knock the price down to the high to mid $200K range before anyone bites.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Insulation

One of the things I did, and felt was really important with the renovation was put in some insulation. The house had no insulation. Zip. Nada. None.
What does it mean to have a house with no insulation? Well from my 6 years of living in it, I'll tell you. For one, you can hear everything that is going on in the streets. Of course, you can blame crappy windows for that too. Second, heat and air escape. I had a tough time getting the house up to 75F during the winter if I wasn't cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Because I had to balance my desire to walk around the house in flip flops with wanting to conserve energy and not spend too much on heating fuel, I kept most of the house in the high 60s when at home (low 60s when not) and limited my heated paradise to my bedroom. Or, stayed in the kitchen, particularly after the installation of the heated floor.
Now, now I have insulation and it is a beautiful, beautiful thing. The thermostat is timed to go to 71 in the morning, 60 when I leave, and 66 when I return. There were times when I came home and it was 70. The heat stayed in, all due to our friend, insulation.
I have a friend who has an older house too. Not as old as mine a 1930s(?) bungalow. He suspects it has no insulation in the bottom portion. He thinks the attic level bedroom might be insulated as it keeps in heat. But then again, it could be just the heat rising.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rowhouse lines

Looking out my back window I noticed something odd about one of the houses. And it is a weird little thing that I wondered about regarding my house, and other houses around. As these are townhouses, all connected and everything, is there like an easement or something that allows part of your house to be attached to your neighbors.
To better illustrate here's the deal: Houses A has a closed in rear porch thing that leans (possibly due to age) into what looks to be House B's side of the property line. What's on House B's side from House A are the gutters, roof overhang, and flashing. There is no adjoining structure like a porch on B's side. Another example, my house, from the front it would appear that the fence and the paint line show where one house ends and the other begins. Nope. Discovered this when making a vent for the basement, the hole wound up on the other side of the fence in the neighbor's yard. Similar problem in the back. Where the kitchen chimneys meet is a little less than a foot on the other side of the fence and the neighbor's AC/heat pump thing sits right on the fence.
Now back in 1870-whatever when the landlord who owned my side of the block had these houses built, the exact line of where one house began and the other ended probably didn't matter much. He owned the whole row of near cookie-cutter houses. But in time they got sold off bits and pieces to other landlords and until the late 20th century these units were almost always rental housing, so those with the responsibility to maintain and repair, didn't have to live with the results.
The not-exactly cut and dry line of this side mine this side yours can create problems when it comes to fences, additions, weed trees, repairs, etc when the relationship you have with the owner of the neighboring house is not the best.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

House history in the most unlikely places

Okay the disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1- There are people out there who do house history for a living, I'm not one of them. If you're doing research on your house, I'm not the best resource, so please don't expect much if you ask a question.

Disclaimer #2- There are some reflections I make regarding archival theory that I just have zero interest in explaining to the layperson. In the end this is a personal blog, so if you find some things disturbing, express it elsewhere.

/end disclaimers

Doing random search for my house and my neighbors' houses, just to get a sense of the neighborhood, see if anyone else is blogging or what have you, I came across something quite interesting. It seems that a notable person, not exactly in your middle school history book notable, but notable enough to have a place accept her papers, owned my house. Quickly, I need to state that Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the 1st Black woman to receive a Phd in Mathematics never ever lived in my house. Never. Ever. She might have looked at it from time to time. My house, as well as several other Shaw, Bloomingdale, and general DC houses were in her investment portfolio, which are included in her personal papers, which wound up at Catholic University, which decided at some point to put up the finding aid on the web, which made it possible for me to stumble upon.
Now as someone who has processed personal papers for a university, I wondered if this would be the kind of stuff I'd keep. Because the items that I was looking at fall outside of the topic that makes Dr. Lofton-Haynes's papers valuable to the institution holding them, makes the accessioning archivist in me wonder. However, areas of income, income production and other aspects that allow the subject to engage in activities because of the freedom that extra money can bring, thus making these off topic files valuable. Yet, this would be the last place I'd even think of looking to find out about my house and neighborhood.
Just glancing over her real estate holdings, and almost all the files about particular houses have sales contracts showing the price she bought and later sold the property for, she did pretty well. Some files have correspondence and bills/invoices about repairs and improvement, which may not reflect all the money she poured into a place, but if those were the big major repairs, she made a decent buck on the sale. She bought a cluster of four houses Truxton Circle for $22,000 in 1945, and sold three of them individually for $8,000 in 1949; $9,500 and $12,000 in 1950. The sales contract also mention how much the houses are to be or were renting for, and the 1940s rents hovered between $40 and $45 dollars a month.
Besides sales contracts, there are title insurance papers, bills, loan receipts, correspondence about repairs, and very mundane things. Of course one property did have a notice from the DC Board of Condemnation of Insanitary Buildings informing Dr. Haynes-Lofton that her property had saggy floors, defective plumbing and electrical, broken door parts and ill fitting windows. Was the good Professor a slum lord? Don't know, some of the houses she sold the buyers had intended to live in them, so she couldn't have been that bad. She did upgrade some of the houses, installing gas in the kitchens, replacing roofs, and making repairs.
What I found most interesting was a non-Shaw property that involved her in a legal case with the federal government. One file labeled "Rental property, 1523 M st., lawsuit, speak easy, legal document, 1931" has letters and legal docs about a place she leased/rented that the Feds busted as a speak easy. She, through her lawyer, stated that she knew nothing about the activities of what was going on there. Considering the number of holdings she had all over the city and her professional activities in DC education, it is completely possible she did not know that she had a gin joint in her investment portfolio.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not with the Historic Districting of Columbia

I have faith that the Invisible Hand will ball up into a fist and smite the creators of the ugly.
Yes, I saw the Washington Post article about ugly tops. Pop up roofs are ugly in suburbia when they plopped on top of bungelows, and they are ugly in the city. It's just ugly all around.
However, I don't believe, that the hammer of historic districting is the solution. Maybe the screwdriver of zoning, is a better tool. And then there is the chisle of legistlation to allow just banning, if not regulating, the use of the hated vinyl siding, like single beers and go cups?
Really, what inch of the District isn't historic? Okay, maybe bits of Ward 8 which were developed in the middle of the 20th century, but what isn't over 50 years old with some sort of from the bottom up people's history?
Instead, I believe the truly ugly will come at a price to the developer and the seller. For one tack off points for curb appeal. Yes, they get to say that they've added a bedroom, more space, what have you, but then they are also competing with other say 3 bedroom, 2,000 sq ft houses that were designed to be those kinds of houses. Secondly, even when the market was hot, I've seen ugly houses just sit. But that's only in my area, maybe ugly sells like hotcakes in Columbia Heights. There are also other things that developers, or others getting a house ready to sell do that are useless, like large decks off bedrooms.
Also, I believe what has been done can, with the will and money, can be undone. True window sizes can be restored, proper turrets returned (unless there is something in the DC building code against them), bricks replaced, siding removed, and better design implemented. We renovate kitchens, transform yards, add things, remove things over the years, as occupants change things. You truly lose something when the thing is completly demolished.
So lets start the petition to ban vinyl siding and regulate extra floor additions to pre-exisiting housing since the goal isn't to preserve some vague history but rather to prevent that which is an abomination in your eyes.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Home and Garden

Home- Well I have invited a few of you over to take a look at the house. Some of you have made it over, some, not. For whatever reason you haven't stopped by to visit here is the short picture tour.

Garden
- Purslane. You'd think something labeled as a weed would be flourishing. But nooooo. A few weeks after taking purslane found on the streets and sidewalks of Shaw and transplanting them into happy little pots, they just, I don't know. The leaves looked like something attacked them. I was thinking the flies, maybe something to do with water on the leaves and the scorching heat. But maybe, they hate pots. So I'm transplanting them to the front yard where they have to take whatever nature can give 'e because the handle on the spigot is broken.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Better living through Real Estate

Y'all west of NJ Ave won't be interested in this, but my TC brethren, particularly those of you who showed up at the last BACA meeting ( the notes are up at the super secret site user-thismeeting/ psw- neverhappened).

I remember the houses or vacant apartment building on the unit block of Q St mentioned during the public safety section of the BACA meeting. It seems that there have been some squatters who invaded the buildings and caused concern for some of the neighborhing residents. There were some fire marshall signs up but someone mentioned that those signs went missing. Anyway, it appears that those problem houses are up for sale. So if you have a couple of mil laying about the house you could buy 1/2 a block.
The phrase 'better living through real estate' came up in a conversation with a Realtor and TC resident, who believes purposeful RE transactions can aid in the betterment of the neighborhood. Well a row of tall townhouses with 2,000 sq ft per lot, are 30, 32, and 34 Q St (MLS DC6490583, DC6490599 & DC6490587) offered at $440K each. According to the listing you can try for a whole package deal. I wonder if you get a discount?

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Friday, July 13, 2007

U.G.L.Y. you ain't got no alibi


Uglyhouse
Originally uploaded by In Shaw
This picture was taken some 3 years back of a house on the 1500 block of 3rd Street, NW. Since this picture was taken and I ranted about it's ugliness in 2004, I have yet to see anybody living in it. Three years and nothing, all that ugly for naught. Of course the house might have other problems.
Confusing windowAnother house that has seemingly sat vacant for years is at the corner of Marion and Q Sts NW. It is not so much ugly as it is confusing. There are two windows, one sitting on top of the other, allowing light into a space, well I'm not sure how that space is to be used. It would make a lovely spot for a spiral staircase, but I'm not sure where one would be going and the reasons for traffic flow in and out are not obvious. Now, it looks like there might have been a door there long time ago, and maybe the house was renovated to look like this but it just don't make no sense.
Check 'n' GoLastly, not a house but a business, is the Check 'n' Go or the rob people of their paycheck with usury fees. Note the top portions where windows have been busted in and out and the masonry (you may need to click on the photo to get to a bigger image). Yes, I know Historic Districts would prevent the remuddling, and make my whites whiter, my brights brighter and reduce crime by 98%. But some of you know how I hate history being prostituted out for reasons other than strong history. Besides, ugly remuddling would be true to the historic slum look because the 'Shaw' identity seems to be more 1960s urban renewal than 1890s Victorian. And what's more true to the story than a check cashing place in a messed up building?
I believe in the invisible hand of the market coming down and smiting those who would make the ugly. They have been punished by their wickedness with properties that bear little fruit. May those who screwed up residential properties wail and nash their teeth and pay the vacant property tax. As for the ugly commercial property, maybe location, location, location may override the ugly when a business is looking for a place to be (and I don't see a long life for the check cashing place), or maybe not.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Your house is crap

Today's theme negativity. I must be in a mood.
Anyway, I hope my host has been able to find, or will be able to find, a MICCO survey done in the late 1960s of Shaw houses. I saw parts of the survey and hopefully the complete survey is located somewhere in the George Washington Univ archives.
From the portion I saw, here's the deal. Each square was surveyed for the condition of the all the houses on that square. Unfortunately, what little I saw, a majority of houses where in poor condition, deteriorating or needing extensive repair. A small percentage were solid. Now, taking that to the next conclusion, if those houses weren't satisfactorily repaired or renovated, or if the renovations were as crappy as the one done on my house (renovated in the 80s), then y'all should be a little bit concerned about your house.
Have a pleasant weekend.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Friday wrap up

Instead of going to work I went to Ocean City, MD (for a professional meeting) and grabbed some seaweed and small shells for the compost bin. I'll wash off the salt and throw what I have in compost bin tonight. Seaweed (once you wash off the salt) is very good for compost and the shells I guess provide calcium.

If you spend more than 10 minutes on Google and can't find what you're looking for it may be time to consult a librarian.-- Lesson learned at conference.

Has anyone noticed that a bunch of houses on Bates are up for sale? Has anyone also noticed that it seems to be the same realtor? Or is it just me?

Lastly, I've been thinking of the whole, well now our Truxton/Shaw houses are worth 2x or 3x as much so such and such should happen. The fault I find in this is that houses in more established DC neighborhoods are also worth 2x to 4x as much. It is not that anything has happened. There have been improvements in transitional neighborhoods such as ours that make the price raises just more than inflation. However, my $300K (formerly $100K) fee simple house with yard is worth as much as a studio sized condo in Dupont with no parking or balcony. On the plus side I could trade it in for a small detached house with a lawnmower worthy yard in the uncool section of College Park, MD (PG County). I guess my rambling point is although we know how much our own and our neighbors' houses are worth, we should also know the comparables across town.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Big Weekend House Tour

Ah, you know Spring is here when there are more open houses in the hood than you can shake a stick at.
1536 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Price: 429,000
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 1
Fireplace: ?
Basement: Yes, unfinished
Parking: Carriage house
Well I sort of already covered this in yesterday's post but to repeat, this is a purchase for investors. No wide eyed young dreamers, this house requires some serious work. There is a big hole on the first level where a bathroom was. The basement, was the very definition of unfinished, it was anti-finished. The carriage house, serviceable but in need of saving. The only thing that resemebled looking liveable was the upper apartment level (see picture). If I had to guess at what happened I'd have to say someone started trying to live on the 2nd floor and renovate the rest of the property but clearly was way over their head.
If one had the time and money, one could carve out 3 or 4 apartments. The basement and the 1st and second levels have separate entrances and are completely separate from each other. They all access the carriage house. The carriage house is 2 levels and would make an excellent loft, suped up garage space, mom-in law apartment, guest house, whatever. But all you need is time and money. Oh, and tolerance, as it is next door to a storefront church that can get a bit rowdy.
I was alerted to this house by a postcard the RE agent sent out and by neighbors B. and IT. IT took most of the pictures as I didn't have my Palm on me. B. was useful as structural lab rat. He climbed the dodgy looking stairs to the second floor of the carriage house, and walked across the bridge. A lot on the property looked dodgy and will require a lot of work and money to fix up.
Offers taken March 23rd. Sold As-Is.

1642 4th St NW

Price: 270,000
Bedrooms: 1 (was 2)
Bathrooms: 1
Fireplace: no
Basement:no
Parking: Rear
B. had to admire the agent's honesty when describing 1642 as a shell. 'Cause that is what it was, a shell, a condemnable living space. You could live in this squalor, but for $270K, why? The nice thing about the first floor was the exposed brick (link to picture). In the right light it looked quaint against the faux paint plaster. Yet the house will need about $150K-$200K worth of work to make it livable and nice.
What's wrong
The nice exposed brick cannot make up for all that is wrong and all that makes it a total gut job. Let's start with the floors. Very dodgy. There were patches of linoelum and other odd bits and the floor was uneven. The upper level's floors were worse. It seemed as if you could fall through. Some folks who had followed us took one look at the floor upstairs and turned around. I was with B., the fearless, he rides his bike through traffic without a helmet and walks across floors of question. The floors will need to be ripped up as there is nothing and no part of the floor that can be saved.
Another problem are the ceilings. The first floor's main rooms had no ceilings, just the bottom of the semi-not there floor of the 2nd level. See the picture to the right and notice where the wall meets the ceiling sort of? Well it doesn't. The wall stops where it stops. The ceiling is dodgy too(see picture).
Stairs. The stairs in the carriage house at 1536 New Jersey seemed more secure than the ones here. I was afraid to walk on them if another person was on them as well.
Last in the grand list of why the house needs to be totally gutted, is the layout. The only bathroom is on the first floor, behind the kitchen. There used to be 2 bedrooms, and one could carve 2 small bedrooms out in it's current layout, but the best thing would be to knock out the back wall and build up from it's current footprint up to the second level. From there a bathroom on the second floor could be put in, as well as a two decent sized bedrooms (or 1 bedroom 1 office), and if keeping the same footprint, one could still have parking in the back, replacing the huge 1960-1970s behemouth sitting out there now.
At $270K, if this thing goes under contract today (today they take bids) and sells for the going price, I will not question my tax assessment.

1614 New Jersey Ave
Price: 669,900
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Fireplace: 1 or more
Basement: no
Parking: back
On this block there was this and another house. The other house was a FSBO (for sale by owner) and not an open house. I only go to open houses as I don't want to waste anyone's time. Nothing I can really say about the house's structure, the things that make me want to comment is how the current owners have furnished and use the space. Any way I have pictures.Pix no. 1 and pix no. 2. It is in move in condition (once the owners move out) and doesn't have any glaring issues with paint or moulding. It is a very contemporary looking house.


425 Q St, NW
Price: 549,000
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Fireplace: ?
Basement: no
Parking: off street
Curvy, is a way to describe this house. Well done and ready to move into. It has a nice feel. I particularly liked the stairwell and hallway to the kitchen as they had windows and touches that were nice. Anyway, pictures below:
425_Qa.jpg
425_Qb.jpg
425_Qd.jpg
425_Qc.jpg

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