On Dec. 31, 2014, a colleague purchased a fully redeveloped home in Brookland. The property, a stunning, newly renovated single-family home on Newton Street, N.E., was staged and showed beautifully. After several months on the market and under contract for improvements from a home inspection, my colleague and his husband closed on the property for nearly $800,000. When they arrived to their walkthrough, the buyers found that the aesthetically pleasing light hardwood floor had been severely worn after all the staging material was removed.
In addition, the material used in producing the cabinets was easily damaged, and the house had frozen pipes just days after move-in. In short, the aesthetic charm had reduced the quality of the finishes; moreover, the lack of quality in the renovation had already become apparent. Flipping property, often times a misnomer also used to describe illegal practices in building a real estate bubble, is often the term used for housing redevelopment.
In D.C., neighborhoods such as Petworth, Columbia Heights and Shaw have seen large-scale development over the past decade. These residential projects, often associated with a particular town home or multi-unit redevelopment, rely on a developer who purchases the distressed property at low cost, renovates, and finally sells it for a significant markup. This type of purchase is popular among buyers who are looking for a move-in ready home with historic charm. However, as with the case of my colleague, what should buyers (as well as flipping sellers) be on the lookout for with these types of renovations?
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