When Brian and Becky Clifford decided to sell their condominium in DC's Cathedral Heights area and look for something with more space, they began their search in familiar areas such as Capitol Hill. But after Brian received an e-mail about Silo Point, a new condo building in Baltimore, they decided to give Charm City a look. “When we saw the size of the homes, we couldn’t believe how low the prices were,” says Brian, who has lived in the Washington area for 14 years. Brian, a Senate staffer, and Becky, who works for a nonprofit in DC, settled on a 2,200-square-foot two-bedroom with den at Silo Point in Baltimore’s Locust Point neighborhood. “We love the area, and we have a water view on three sides,” says Brian. And they couldn't beat the price: They paid $150,000 less for their new condo than they did in 2006 for their Cathedral Heights one-bedroom.
During the week, the Cliffords plan to drive to the BWI MARC station and take the train to DC's Union Station. “Door to door, it will take about 50 minutes,” he says. “And that's 50 minutes where I'm not behind the wheel. I can relax, I can read.” For many couples like the Cliffords, Baltimore offers easy access to the Washington area at a lower cost. According to RBI, a real-estate research firm, the median sales price in Baltimore in February 2011 was $205,350—compared with $360,000 in the District.
Prices are highest in Baltimore neighborhoods such as Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor, where water views and a lively restaurant and bar scene have drawn lots of young professionals. But plenty of bargains are to be had in nearby Mount Vernon and Charles Village, where many students live. Home buyers can also find good deals in Canton, where a large housing inventory has kept prices low, and in Hampden, an area that's seen a lot of recent development.