Harriet Tregoning is not your average house hunter. A city planner for the District of Columbia, Tregoning said her job requires her to be "a futurist." So when she's assessing a neighborhood, she's pretty good at predicting what it will look like years down the road.
Harriet and Geoff Anderson are downsizing from their town house in Adams Morgan and buying a condo in Columbia Heights. The development there makes it "an exciting community," she said.
The couple began searching in April, weighing several Washington neighborhoods including Cleveland Park, Capitol Hill, Mount Pleasant and Shaw.
"All those neighborhoods had the common element of being accessible," said Anderson, who said the couple do not own, and do not plan to own, a car. So they ignored areas with good public transportation where car ownership would be necessary. They also wanted an area where they could take their two dogs walking or go running or biking.
They found a lot of competition within their price range of $650,000 to $800,000 but also a "fair amount [of homes] to look at," Anderson said.
Rob Low, a Long & Foster Realtor who worked on the couple's condo purchase, said there are a lot of double-income buyers in Washington, which makes it a "very hot market right now." He added that within the $650,000-to-$800,000 price range there are a number of micromarkets, with some of the strongest in Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, and the more western and southern parts of Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant.
"A properly prepared and priced product there, condo or individual home, will sell very quickly," he said.
The couple chose their new neighborhood in part because of its potential.
"The 14th Street corridor is still reinventing itself," Tregoning said. "The Columbia Heights [development] plan is exciting, and in many ways it exemplifies the characteristics of Washington."
The multiyear Neighborhood Investment Fund Plan for Columbia Heights was approved by the city in 2008. It spells out retail and housing goals, as well as opportunities for recreation and employment.
The neighborhood was the first to have "big box retail" in the Washington -- development that is not only helping revitalize the area, but keeps money in the city that had been going to other jurisdictions, Tregoning said.
"This is the first place that we put an actual offer on," Tregoning said. "As a planner, I know what makes for a great neighborhood for a homeowner. I'm very excited to be moving to a neighborhood that has a really great plan."