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Imagine enjoying a sunny Saturday of sidewalk brunch followed by a visit to a farm-fresh produce stand and a show-stopping evening at the Fillmore. That’s life in Silver Spring, Maryland, where miles of hiking and biking trails meet museums and shopping only 6.2 miles from the heart of Washington, D.C.
This city of approximately 80,000 people offers easy access to restaurants, shopping, parks (including the Brookside Botanical Garden), world-class entertainment venues, excellent schools, and a diverse population.
Silver Spring is the first stop in Maryland on the Metro Red Line and considered one of Washington, D.C.’s, oldest suburbs. Named for a mica-flecked spring in 1840, Silver Spring offers a wealth of home options from sophisticated condos to 1930s bungalows and everything in between to suit young professionals, families, and empty nesters.
In this complete guide to buy a house in Silver Spring, we interviewed one of the top real estate agents in Silver Spring and a home staging expert to discover their insights on choosing the best home for your budget and lifestyle.
We also learned about the competitiveness of the Silver Spring market. As of May 2021, most listings sell within days or weeks with multiple bids, so if you want to buy a house in Silver Spring, you’ll want to prepare yourself.
Plan your home budget in Silver Spring
High on amenities like restaurants, grocery stores, parks, good schools, and walkable neighborhoods, Silver Spring reflects these in its price tag. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median home price of $497,000 puts it above the national average of $309,800, as of May 2021.
As a result, the cost of living in Silver Spring is 44% higher than the national average. The average cost of home insurance in Maryland is $1,247 per year, lower than the national average of $1,445. Property taxes here are 1% of the home’s assessed value. With that in mind, taxes on a $300,000 home would be approximately $3,000 as of May 2021.
Since many of the homes in Silver Spring are from the 1940s and ’50s, some reflect their age in terms of potential mold, roof damage, and lead-based paint. However, those aren’t deterrents in today’s hot housing market.
Navigating the Silver Spring housing market
Top real estate agent Nathan Dart, of Dart Homes in Rockville, Maryland, says Silver Spring is appealing because of its proximity to Washington, D.C. The short commute combined with a walkable downtown makes it attractive to professionals.
He says many buyers come from within Silver Spring itself. That, or they’re leaving Washington D.C., and coming just over the state line where they can still be close to the office but also enjoy the amenities of suburban living.
Silver Spring is the fourth-largest city in Maryland and has a variety of neighborhoods, each with its own personality and characteristics. As of May 2021, Dart says the best time to buy a house in Silver Spring is now — if you’re ready. “The sooner, the better. There’s a limited supply, and you could pay 10% to 20% more if you wait another year.”
As of May 2021, the typical home sale here is 30 to 45 days from contract to closing. Dart says the current market is so competitive that buyers are skipping inspections and not requesting concessions. “Ideally, buyers get a radon inspection, mold, lead-based paint inspection. But it’s too competitive of a market right now.”
In a typical market, homebuyers get a home inspection to assess the general condition and integrity of the home. Some — but not all — home inspectors check for mold, lead-based paint, and radon as part of their inspection, but it depends on the home and the inspector, so you’ll want to make sure you’re clear about what your inspection includes.
Dart does suggest doing a pre-inspection before making an offer, if possible. Moving forward without an inspection and with no contingencies can be costly because you could lose your deposit if something turns up after your bid is accepted and you opt out of the sale. If you’ve assessed the risks and choose to make an offer, you can set a cap with your real estate agent. For example, you can say you’re not willing to pay more than $5,000 over the cap.
He also notes buyers who offer flexible timing are attractive to sellers. “Offer them time to stay in the property for up to 60 days,” he says.
When it comes to making an offer, Dart says one way potential buyers can see pricing benchmarks is to look at the houses sold in the neighborhood in the last 30, 60, and 90 days to get a better understanding of the market.
He also shares one of his bidding strategies — choose uncommon numbers. “A lot of times agents pick even numbers like $500,000. But I like to use uncommon numbers like $555,000.” He says that can make your bid stand out from the others.
What types of homes are available?
If you want to buy a house in Silver Spring you’ll find a range of homes to suit different lifestyles and budgets. Downtown Silver Spring offers condos and high-rise buildings. While just a few minutes away, there are leafy neighborhoods with mid-century colonials on 2-acre lots.
Due to the age of Silver Spring, the housing stock includes some homes dating back to the 18th century. As a result, electrical wiring and plumbing may need updating if it’s an older home. Jennifer Westbrook, a home stager and owner of Main Stage Home, says such homebuyers would likely want to talk with a licensed contractor about what to look for when it comes to these fundamentals.
Silver Spring schools
Silver Spring gets high marks when it comes to education. Great Schools.org ranks 25 of the city’s schools above average. Public School Review puts Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, Takoma Park Middle School, and Westover Elementary School at the top of their rankings for public schools in Silver Spring. In addition to the public schools, the city also has 14 private schools.
There are also more than a dozen universities in and near Silver Spring. These include the nearby University of Maryland and an easy commute to Washington, D.C., for schools like Howard University and Georgetown University. Prince George’s Community College has six locations, with the Hyattsville and Laurel campuses within 15 miles.
Silver Spring neighborhoods
“Parts of Silver Spring are like different worlds,” Westbrook says. “Downtown Silver Spring is closest to Washington, D.C., and has an urban feel with high-rises and lots of restaurants. But drive a few minutes, and you can be on a farm buying produce close to your suburban home.” Let’s take a look at some of the areas.
Downtown Silver Spring
Ranked as the No. 2 top place to live in Maryland for young professionals, downtown Silver Spring has the most urban feel. Closest to the Metro and Washington, D.C., this area is for those who want to enjoy an evening stroll to enjoy a night at the Fillmore, followed by a saunter to Kaldi’s Social House for brunch. Besides its walkability, it’s also the most affordable part of Silver Spring, with homes averaging $354,500.
This family-friendly neighborhood is full of Cape Cods and Tudor-style homes where children can learn to ride bikes in the summer air, and you can play fetch with your pup in the backyard.
Competitively priced for the area, the median home price is $523,533.
The neighborhood is also home to the Brookside Garden and Conservatory, which offers hiking trails, formal gardens, rotating exhibits, and a nature center. Free and open to the public, it’s the perfect place to while away a weekend afternoon or enjoy a stroll through the flowers after work.
As one of the oldest suburbs in the D.C. area, Woodside Park lives up to its name with park-like surroundings and gracious homes. With large lots, 40-foot setbacks, and winding roads, Woodside Park is primarily home to families and empty nesters.
Dating from the 1920s, it even has a neighborhood historian and association. The Woodside Park Civic Association publishes a monthly newsletter and holds annual neighborhood celebrations, including a Halloween pumpkin carving contest. As you might expect, this neighborhood is the most expensive in Silver Spring, with homes averaging $849,000.
Named after a 19th-century crossroads by Irish railroad workers, the Sligo Creek neighborhood features a 500-plus-acre park. Nature enthusiasts appreciate The Friends of Sligo Creek, which offers various nature programs and cleanups in the park. Or, you could enjoy a bike ride on the 10.2-mile hiking/biking trail, or a round of golf at the Sligo Creek Golf Course. Stop by La Malinche for tapas afterward.
Home styles are an eclectic mix of late-20th-century split-level homes, ramblers, colonial-style homes, and brick condos. The Sligo Creek Elementary school has a Federal-style entrance for its young students.
Considered a more rural part of Silver Spring, Cloverly residents can choose from newer homes and wooded lots. The neighborhood is close to farm stands and parks for softball games and playgrounds, and the median home price is $487,800.
Cloverly is roughly 15 minutes from the Shady Grove Metro Red Line for an easy commute into Washington, D.C. There’s a Safeway and other shopping less than a mile away at the Cloverly Shopping Center.
Find a top buyer’s agent in Silver Spring
If you want to buy a house in Silver Spring, it helps to work with a buyer’s agent who can help you navigate this competitive market.
The top buyer’s agents in Silver Spring save their clients 87.4% more money and complete 75% more transactions than average agents. Find your agent today to help you secure the home of your dreams.
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