1. Look Beyond the Photos
This might sound counterintuitive but occasionally homes with terrible photos and lots of clutter are in good condition underneath. Most buyers will likely pass over these homes without scheduling a showing so the competition might be lower
2. Buy a Fixer Upper
Houses that need work often sell for less than their market value although it is important to get an accurate estimate for repair costs. Homes that are in good condition but only need cosmetic work could be updated up over time rather than prior to moving in. Renovation loans can also be a good financing option for homes that need work.
3. Buy a Smaller Home with the Potential to Expand
Many older homes in the DC area are notoriously small but if the size fits your needs now looking to expand as needed in the future can be a good option. Check out other homes in the neighborhood to see what other homeowners have done. Raising the attic in a cape cod or adding an addition on the back of a colonial can be a cost effective option.
4. Look for Distressed Property Sales
Bank owned, short sales, and estate sales all come with a little extra red tape, but it can be worth it if the price is right. Bank Owned and Estate sales follow a similar process as a regular sale however the home is usually sold as is and may have been sitting vacant for a while. Short sales can take a few months for the sellers lender to approve but typically the owner is still maintaining the home during that time.
5. Find a Home With Rental Income Potential
If permitted in the homes jurisdiction, having the option to rent out a basement or lower level in law suite can help to subsidize the monthly mortgage payment. Chances are if this is an attractive option to you as a buyer now, it will also add value for a future buyer when it is time to sell. In parts of DC where parking is limited, renting out an extra off street parking space can help to bring in upwards of $100/month.