Our little corner of Northeast DC is modest, down-home, even a little countrified; but the local land rush has reached us. Over the past year and a half we’ve seen dozens of houses gutted, rehabbed, sometimes built onto (including those ugly extra floors on rowhouses called “middle fingers” in the trade). There’s an eerie influx of young white people, and they don’t seem to be renters; I attended a neighborhood clean-up event some months back and was surrounded by twentysomethings talking about their land values and renovations.
The prices are going up too. Last year a house up in Trinidad, an area long known to realtors as “Trinibad,” went for $900,000.
But this being, as I said, a modest place, there are still plenty of people here who have no intention of moving — or, if the idea is put into their heads by financial disaster or ambitious relatives, have no idea how to exploit the land rush. Their dealings and those of their friends with the big-money world are rare and usually unpleasant.
That’s what signs like this one are about. They appeal to people who aren’t accustomed to brokers or real estate negotiations. In exchange for a crappy deal on which they will profit handsomely, the house-buyers offer speed and a minimum of fuss, like a pawn shop for property. It’ll be over quick and then you can put something in the bank when you move in with your kids, or to an assisted living facility.
The thing about capitalism that its boosters don’t get is, not everyone is Warren Buffett. No, I take that back — they get it alright.