Welcome to Ask an Insider,, where Curbed D.C. gets up close and nosy with local pros in real estate, neighborhood development and city planning. We ask the questions, so you don't have to. Think you have knowledge to share? Shoot an email to the tip line at email@example.com and we'll consider handing over the megaphone. First up, we chatted with Realtors Julie Christenberry and Elani Lawrence of District Dwell, a year-old firm that specializes in linking clients with older properties.
Curbed: What city neighborhoods still have decent prices?
Julie: I would look in Woodridge, Brightwood, Brookland or Trinidad. Trinidad is close to all that H Street NE development and the new trolley, but it still has affordable renting and buying. And Brookland is near the Red Line, and has great single-family homes with character.
Curbed: You see the insides of a lot of houses — what's the weirdest thing you've come across?
Elani: I walked into a property the other day and there was a big, fat, dead mouse in it.
Julie: I recently showed a client a vacant condo where someone had left high-end shopping bags — Coach, Prada, Chanel — on display in every room and in all of the closets. It was strange!
Curbed: D.C. houses and condos tend to sell quickly. What's with the ones that don't?
Julie: Price is what makes homes move in a flash or sit. An overpriced house sits on the market, and then people often think something is wrong with it.
Curbed: What can wannabe buyers take away from open houses? Any tips on navigating them?
Eleni: If you go to an open house, you can see a property through other people's eyes. You'll hear them talking about doing different things to the bathroom or to the backyard. But still, you should remember that the agents working at open houses aren't your Realtors, so you shouldn't give away too much information. It might hurt you in the buying process.
Curbed: What's an amenity many of your clients want?
Julie: Historic character. With developers coming in and gutting many houses and removing historic details, it's harder and harder to find original moldings, floors or light fixtures. Original unpainted trim, fireplace mantels and clawfoot tubs can add $50K or more to a listing.
Curbed: Pop-ups — yay or nay?
Julie: Double nay. I'd rather see a fantastic roof deck. -Jenn Barger
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