October 22, 2015 // as featured in Washingtonian
Just because I'm not in the market for a home doesn't mean I don't show up to open houses like I have hundreds of thousands to drop. The more open houses I go to, the more trends appear: everything is shiny, new and well placed in an open floor layout; there's a half bath squeezed under the stairs; the bathroom has modern sink no one can wash their face in. Many of these homes have been flipped, a common sight on the hot DC real estate market. House flipping is when a house is bought as a real estate investment, remodeled, and put back on the market at a substantially higher price.
On a larger scale, flipped homes can alter a real estate market, creating a scarcity of fixer-uppers and an abundance of all-cash deals. It can also be a sign of a changing community. Curious about how home flipping looked from a bird's eye view, I mapped flipped homes as a proportion of single family home sales in neighborhoods across the District.
Flipped Homes, as Percent of Single Family Homes on Market (October 2013-September 2015)
Darker green indicates greater proportion of flipped homes. Click on a neighborhood for more detail.
Note: There is no data for dark gray areas, which are typically green space or commercial areas.
Source: MRIS, provided by Kevin Wood to PoPville
The geography of flipped housing skews east in the District. This makes sense as the city's most expensive properties have in recent history been located in the most northern and western corners. Many of DC's recent neighborhoods, Shaw, Logan Circle, Columbia Heights and H St, have lower rates of home flipping but are surrounded by flipping booms to the north and east. Hotspots can be seen east of H St, north of Petworth and east of Shaw. So what are the most house-flipped neighborhoods?
For the most flipped neighborhoods in the District, the proportion of flipped homes on the market is staggering. In the last two years there were 11 neighborhoods where more than one in every five homes on the market was flipped. In more than 40 neighborhoods one in ten homes on the market was flipped. Higher percentages of flipped homes in 2013 to 2015, compared with 2011 to 2015, suggests momentum for flipping.
Largely in the east of the city, while these neighborhoods don't cluster in a specific area they all have in common increasing home prices and gentrifying communities with newer residents generally younger, wealthier and whiter.
Technical notes: Graphics and rankings are based MRIS data reported monthly by Kevin Wood to PoPville. Select zip codes do not have data before October 2013 and were not included in the 2011-2015 graphics. Flips were defined as the following: (1) a single family home that was bought twice within a two year period, or (2) a single family home that was converted into condos with at least one condo sold within two years. Neighborhood map boundaries were supplied by Code for DC. You can find complete code for this post on my github page.