Cover story: What’s available for $350,000?

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The District and its nearby suburbs are well-known for having survived the recent housing meltdown with more stability than other parts of the country. At the same time, homes in this region are among the most expensive in the nation.

According to the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS), the median price for a home sold in the District in March was $379,950. In Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the median price was $225,000, while the median price in Northern Virginia was $330,500.

Buyers in the Washington area who are looking for a home priced at $350,000 will find a variety of options, depending on the location. Within the city limits, the choice in many neighborhoods is limited to a condominium. Suburban areas, again depending on the location, offer the choice of a condominium, town home or single-family home for that price.

To afford a $350,000 home, potential homebuyers should evaluate their income and monthly budget. In general, monthly housing costs, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, plus homeowner association dues or condominium fees should require no more than 31 percent of monthly gross income. Borrowers who choose an FHA loan will need to make a down payment of $12,250, while those who choose a conventional loan must make a down payment of 5 percent to 20 percent, or $17,500 to $70,000. Closing costs require additional cash or may be negotiated with the seller.

In the District, a two-bedroom, one-bath condominium at 406 Cedar St. NW in Brightwood recently sold for $350,000.

Realtor Rhonda Mortensen, with Long & Foster Realtors in the District, says, “The condominiums in this building, which is directly across the street from the Takoma Park Metro station, typically sell very quickly because of the location. This unit, [No. 6], has close to 1,200 square feet, a fireplace, hardwood floors and a balcony. The rooms are large and have beautiful wood trim because it is a historic older building.”

Ms. Mortensen says the condominium fees, which include all utilities, are about $600 per month. She says similar condominiums closer to downtown would be much more costly.

In Dupont Circle, a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium with 711 square feet is priced at $349,750. This home, No. 209 at 1545 18th St. NW, is priced slightly lower than a home in the building with a similar floor plan. Priced at $369,000, that home has an updated kitchen and bath.

“This building is a high-rise with security, a 24-hour front desk and a roof deck, but most of all it is in a great location less than two blocks from the Dupont Circle Metro station,” says Christopher Suranna, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in the District. “It is easy to get cabs or walk to stores and restaurants in Dupont, or 17th Street or 14th Street. A one-bedroom condo in Dupont typically costs from $335,000 to $380,000, depending on the size and whether it has been updated,” he says.

The condominium fee for No. 209 is $580 per month, which includes all utilities. Mr. Suranna says the one downside to this building is that laundry facilities are in the basement, and it isn’t possible to add a washer and dryer in individual units.

In Alexandria, a three-bedroom, two-bath single-family home priced at $350,000 was under contract within 15 days of going on the market recently. Located at 8016 Frye Road, this home sits on a quarter-acre and has a one-car garage.

“This home has a nice family-room extension off the bath with a lot of windows, an updated, but not high-end, kitchen and new carpet and paint,” says Realtor Jason Stone with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Alexandria. “This is a pretty typical price for a single-family home in the Route 1 corridor, but if you go a short distance from here, the prices go up by $50,000 to $75,000. The homes in this section are usually a split-level, a rambler or a Cape Cod-style home with about 2,000 square feet.”

In Reston, $350,000 will buy a town home or a condominium, but very few single-family homes are available in that price range. An end-unit town home at 2301 Emerald Heights Court in Reston, priced at $349,900, has four bedrooms, three full baths and a powder room. This home has cedar siding and a cedar-shake roof and a contemporary interior with hardwood flooring.

“There are other town homes in the neighborhood priced a little lower, but this home has been renovated from top to bottom, with a new roof, new bathrooms, new kitchen and hardwood flooring,” says Realtor Ellen Moyer with Re/Max Allegiance in Reston. “A lot of town homes in Reston are priced above $400,000, but single-family homes in most of Northern Virginia are priced at $450,000 or more. There are a lot of town homes in Sterling and Ashburn that are priced around $350,000.”

In Rockville, a single-family home at 604 Harrington Road in the Hungerford neighborhood is on the market for $349,900. This four-bedroom home has 1½ baths, a deck and a fenced yard.

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