Mar 17, 2023 - Real Estate

House Hunt: Empty-nesting in D.C.'s Columbia Heights

Elizabeth Allen with her dog.

Elizabeth Allen with her dog Bridget. Photo: Elizabeth Allen

D.C.’s real estate market has seen some big shifts during the pandemic.

The market is more balanced now with buyers having increased control, but not too long ago bidding wars and no contingency offers prevailed. That was right when new D.C. resident Elizabeth Allen started her home search.

  • In this installment of our House Hunt series, we’ll follow her journey buying in the District for the first time.

👋 Who: A social worker and therapist, Allen sold her house in Connecticut in November 2021 after becoming an empty nester. She wanted enough house for when her two kids visit, and a comfortable space for her Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier.

“I was dying to get into the city,” she says of the District. Her move was prompted by a desire to get into policy work, and the fact that her budget would stretch farther here than in a bigger metro like New York.

💰 Budget: $750,000 - $850,000

📍Goal: Walkable D.C. neighborhood

🔎 Started looking: Fall 2021

❤️ Wish list: Three bedrooms, basement, parking, storage space, yard

Option 1: Spacious rowhouse, $849,9000 — Columbia Heights
A row of row homes.
It's the blue house in the middle. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
  • 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms | 1,602 square feet
  • Pros: Basement, large deck, small yard
  • Cons: Not super walkable, small bedrooms
Option 2: Renovated rowhouse, $789,000 — Columbia Heights
A row of colorful row homes.
It's got a yellow door -- how cute! Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
  • 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms | 1,400 square feet
  • Pros: Parking, patio, move-in ready
  • Cons: No basement, not great walkability
Option 3: Condo, $750,000 — Columbia Heights
A Columbia Heights condo living room.
Photo: Elizabeth Allen
  • 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms | 1,136 square feet
  • Pros: Lower end of budget, parking, small porch, walkable
  • Cons: No third bedroom, no yard

Which one did she pick?

A modern bathroom.
Look at that renovated bathroom. Photo: Elizabeth Allen

🎉 Winner: Option 3!

After experiencing multiple heartbreaks over rejected offers for options one and two, Allen landed this cozy condo with room in the budget for updates.

  • Since moving in she’s done a couple of projects, including modernizing the kitchen and primary bathroom.

Plus, she’s loving her walkable new neighborhood and movie nights with neighbors when it’s nice out.


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