I hear about a lot of hand-wringing over the high median price of homes in Bethesda – somewhere up over $900,000. Remember, this is a median, meaning half of homes are higher in price, half are lower. Don’t get scared away before you’ve started looking. A scared buyer was the inspiration behind my recent blog entitled ”Close to DC for under $500k.” But since she was focused on Bethesda, let’s just take a look.
Yes, Bethesda is way more expensive than Silver Spring or Takoma Park. But what exactly do you get for, say under $800,000, when you’re inside the Beltway? Actually, you can get quite a lot depending on where you live. In many of the areas around the National Institutes of Health and Suburban Hospital, for example, there is usually a supply of houses in the $650-$800,000 range. These can be standard 3-bedroom colonials, ranchers, cape cod and a few townhouses. Some may even include some renovation. Many have great locations close to the Metro, downtown Bethesda, special schools (like the French school), or the YMCA. Further below are a few such homes that have recently reduced in price. I like the Alta Vista one in particular.
If these prices are pushing out of your range, or if the houses just seem too small compared to the McMansions popping up around them, try this: list all the reasons you want to live in Bethesda and then measure these reasons honestly in terms of the quality of life they will bring to you compared to other comparable areas (try Silver Spring or certain parts of Virginia). Then, think about the pros and cons of living in a smaller home versus a larger one. Trust me, there are plenty of pros to a smaller house if you are willing to forgo the initial ego boost of a large one.
If you still want Bethesda, then get to know the neighborhoods first. Then take heart that we seem to be seeing more price reductions in the (relatively) lower ranges:
Selected Recent Reductions under $800,000
5203 ELSMERE Ave - $699,000, 3 bed/2.5 bath Arts & Crafts-style house. The photos show it to be beautifully decorated and the listing says it is in “pristine condition.” Built in 1941. Price is down from $749,500.
8314 NORTH BROOK Ln – $525,000, 3 bed/2.5 bath townhouse. Was $545,000 and trying to sell since December.
4500 JONES BRIDGE Rd - $669,000, 4 bed/2 bath Colonial that is close enough to walk to B-CC High School. Corner lot, new kitchen. Was priced at $699,000. Open Sunday the 11th, 1-4.
8811 LOWELL St - $775,000, 3-4 bed/2 bath Cape Cod. Nice family room addition (award-winning, apparently), nice kitchen and ground-level deck. Built in 1951. Was priced at $799,000. Open Sunday May 20th but I don’t know what time. Check the listing closer to the date.