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December 9, 2010

Jenna Bush's Baltimore rowhouse up for sale (for more than '08 purchase price)

Jenna Bush, daughter of the former president, is trying to sell her Baltimore rowhouse, as colleague Laura Vozzella notes.

What might interest you folks more than the gee-whiz celebrity factor: The asking price is about $35,000 more than what she and her husband paid in early 2008 for the property, in Riverside on the south side of Baltimore. (Average sale prices have fallen 25 percent over that period in her ZIP code, though obviously individual mileage has varied.)

The 2,000-square-foot rowhouse, on the market for $474,900, looks nicely renovated and appointed in the listing photos. But of the five homes that changed hands in or around the area in the last few months for $400,000 or more, none broke the $450,000 mark, according to real estate search site Trulia -- including three properties with substantially more space.

On the other hand, some smaller places have sold for more per square foot than Bush is hoping to get. One home in Riverside, for instance, went for $360,000 in August -- the equivalent of $319 a square foot, which makes Bush's $222-per-square-foot price look positively cheap.

Have you seen homes bought in or after 2005 sell for a higher price this year without the aid of substantial improvements? I'd be interested in examples. The reverse trend is, as we all know, a heck of a lot easier to find. (That $319-a-foot home in Riverside? Its August sale price was about $20,000 below what it last sold for in 2005.)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: For sale, Housing market experiences


She may get the number based on it being a "celebrity" home, but no appraiser with a moral compass would allow it to appraise for that much.

They refinanced at $344k in October, so at least it may not end up as a short sale!

I used to live in that neighborhood, across the park from Casa Bush. I can tell you that what matters in Riverside is not really square footage, but the quality of the renovations and the parkling. Jenna has a garage, no? That's pretty rare. My house was about the same size as hers, a bit smaller, but it sold for substantially less in 2006 because, while nicely renovated, it didn't have granite countertops and jacuzzi tubs and the other amenities that people in the neighborhood are seeking. A parking pad probably adds 15k to a home. A garage? As I said, almost no one I knew had one.

Aha -- good point, Rona. But do you think that makes it worth more now than it was in 2008? (As John K. notes, perhaps the celebrity factor will play a role ...)

Did you really expect her to really live there in the hood for any length of time. With her money she chooses the City of Baltimo' ...PuuuuLeeeeze.

Um, she's not exactly George Clooney. Unless one of the Repubs who frequents Ropewalk is the buyer, chances are the shoppers will be more liberal types who won't really care that Jenna Bush slept there. My guess is they priced it that way for one of two reasons: they did some work that they are figuring into the price - new fixtures, a paint job, whatever - or, like most of us, they want to get as much as they can for it. And one more - they can afford for it to sit a bit, as they've already moved. Frankly, it would probably sit a bit if they asked $440,000. My guess is that they will be lucky to get 440k. The thing about Riverside, and Federal Hill, is that there is no shortage of homes for sale, and they are not that much different from each other. If someone has 400k to spend, they have their absolute pick.

Thanks for sharing your neighborhood intel, Rona!

In my opinion (which doesn't count for much since I won't be putting an offer on it!) - $475K is way too much... The house doesn't even look that nice... There's one a few blocks north for the same price and it looks much nicer (although I think it's a tad smaller and doesn't have a half bath). I think they'll be lucky to get $350K. (Although, maybe they'll be extra lucky and some fool will buy it for $400K.) Eitherway - it's all over priced!

Why would someone ever pay $400,000 to live in a rowhome in the city? Years ago they were giving them away for $1. Now they are taxing naive buyers $15,000 a year all b/c the buyer thinks they are living in the lap of luxury next to the trains, thieves breaking into their cars, gangs mugging them, etc

they may have bought it for 440 but they did alot of renovations, it is a beautiful townhouse however the secret service could not even keep them safe here in this baltimore town :(
p.s. her mom's oatmeal-choc./cherry chip cookies are the best :) we love the bushes they are awesome

Hi, Kathy -- I did check to see if any building permits had been issued for that address, and none came up on the city's search site, which goes back to 2005. Clearly work was done at the property at some point -- that's an updated rowhouse -- but it would make sense that a lot of it happened before they bought, based on the $440,000 price. Was the renovation more along the lines of painting and decorating? (That wouldn't have required a permit.)

I'm sorry to hear they didn't feel safe.

Not all of Baltimore is the same. Federal Hill is nice! I do think they are asking a bit much, but you can't compare things "a few blocks away" unless you KNOW the area--in Baltimore City 1 or 2 blocks can make A HUGE difference!

Mindy, Baltimore is definitely a block-by-block sort of place, but Riverside and Federal Hill are pretty upscale overall, don't you think? (After all, there are $400,000-plus homes selling in the area.)

Look gang - I have lived in Federal Hill and I have lived in some other areas of the city. One would be OUT OF THEIR MIND to buy the Bush house for sale for whatever list price they are asking above. Buy yourself one of the newly built places on the water they were trying to auction off awhile back. That is maybe worth $450,000 or whatever. Close to half a million for a rowhouse? Come on. Did anyone watch what happened to the marker just 4 years ago?

Wow, seems awfully pricey to me - even with the "celebrity" premium. I didn't realize that she lived in town. Thanks for the story. WH

I don't know why someone would pay $400,000 to live in the county. Based on my past life the experience consists of spending two hours a week cutting a lawn you don't use, hours a day behind the wheel wishing the soccer mom in the green mini van would get off the phone and drive faster, and eating at such high quality eating establishments as Applebees and the Olive Garden. No thanks. I'd rather spend half a mil in Baltimore or the millions in other NE cities than have that life again.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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