DC Buyer: Soon-to-Graduate Law Student Looking for First Home

by Martin Smith

DC Buyer is a series on UrbanTurf where we look at buyers from various demographics and provide available housing options for them in the current DC market. If you are a prospective buyer and would like to be featured in DC Buyer, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). See all of our past DC Buyer articles here.

This week, we’re working with Jimmy, a 27 year-old law student who is about to graduate and join a corporate DC firm with a starting salary of $160,000. Jimmy has excellent credit with a FICO score of 781, and has $140,000 in the bank for a down payment. He is in the fortunate position of graduating without any student loan debt. Given these factors, a loan for his target price of $450,000 to $550,000 (less his down payment) should not be a problem.

Jimmy is looking for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit and would prefer something in the Dupont/Logan area but is willing to consider other neighborhoods with Metro access. He doesn’t want to have to do any renovations other than minor decorating updates, and he also wants something with plenty of windows and natural light. He doesn’t need parking, but would welcome it if it is available in in his price range. Similarly, he would love a unit that has a 24/7 concierge, given the long hours he will soon be working.

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1806 Riggs Place NW, #2

Jimmy’s biggest concern, however, is what he might do with the unit if he leaves DC and the market is not ripe to sell. He would like the option to rent it out, but is also looking for something that will eventually have strong resale value. So, we’ll be paying special attention to those issues with the properties we recommend.

Our first option for Jimmy is 1806 Riggs Place NW, #2. This is a two-unit building on a relatively quiet one-way street, and what it lacks (a front desk) it more than makes up for with size and light. The 1,300 square-foot two-bedroom unit features a number of fireplaces and skylights, central air conditioning, and a long, spacious living and dining area. The $275/month condo fee includes heat, electricity, water, and gas, and if Jimmy wants to rent in the future, the fact that this is a pet-friendly condo will open up his pool of available renters. The space and Dupont location comes at a price, though—1806 Riggs is on the market for $599,000, which Jimmy can afford, but is more than he wants to pay.

The second choice is 2020 12th Street NW, Unit 311. This two-bedroom, two-bath condo is further north than Jimmy had originally intended, located just off the U Street Corridor. It is, however, less than 500 feet from the Yellow and Green Lines of the U Street/Cardozo Metro station. The 1,013 square-foot loft space was built just five years ago, and the living area has a large set of windows that lead out to a balcony. The listing price includes a parking space, and there is a doorman for the building, though not a concierge like Jimmy prefers. Unit 311 is listed for $535,000, but carries a steep $549 monthly condo fee.

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2020 12th Street NW, Unit 311

Our final option for Jimmy is 1618 11th Street NW, Unit 103. This affordable 1,050 square-foot two bedroom in Logan Circle was built in 2008. It is the lowest priced option we feature, but it has top-of-the-line finishes and a chef’s kitchen with a Viking appliance package. Parking is available (for an additional fee), the building is pet friendly, but there is no concierge or doorman. This unit is a first-floor condo, so it would not have as much natural light as the top floor option on Riggs or the loft on U Street. The $489,850 asking price tag, though, may be enticing for Jimmy.

Given these three choices, where should Jimmy put in his offer?

See other articles related to: u street corridor, logan circle, dupont circle, dclofts, dc buyer

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_buyer_soon-to-graduate_law_student_looking_for_first_home/2061

22 Comments

  1. Leslie said at 8:34 am on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    1806 Riggs Place, despite the higher price, seems like the best long-term investment. The U St. unit looks nice as well, but the condo fee is pretty high.

  1. benji said at 9:19 am on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    Given the fact that Jimmy is probably going to be averaging about 80-hour work weeks, the U Street unit with a doorman and parking space is what I would choose.

  1. mildred said at 10:14 am on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    These are not great options for Jimmy.  Keep looking. There are more options out there.  Having a concierge is very important when you work long hours.  I couldn’t view pics of the Logan condo and didn’t like the Riggs street unit.  Whoever converted this unit didn’t utilize the space properly (i.e. kitchen & master bedroom).

  1. SL said at 10:43 am on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    I also vote that he keep looking. There are plenty of buildings in DC that have doormen/concierge, although I imagine some of the higher-end ones would come at a steep price. What about a high-end 1BR? I think I’d go for the amenities (doorman, gym, roofdeck or balcony) and a convenient location.

    I would totally skip the Riggs Place one - miserable parking and with a 2-unit building he will have to be intimately involved in any building repairs and financial decisions.

  1. Curious said at 11:44 am on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    @ mildred—plenty of options in logan and dupont in this range? please, show me. i have been looking for something similar to Jimmy for months and these are some of the better options I have seen.

  1. former Georgetowner said at 12:08 pm on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    I like the Riggs place.

  1. carefultreading said at 3:36 pm on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    Yes, quite fortunate at 27 to have $140k in the bank AFTER law school. Not to mention actually having a paying job in law.

    But regardless of where he chooses, he won’t be spending much time there anyway.  Might as well go for the most expensive.

  1. SWed said at 4:20 pm on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    Why so many entries for silver-spooned buyers? At least he’ll have plenty of money to spend pounding babes in his three hours off each week.

  1. fugaboudit11 said at 7:15 pm on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    You mean to tell me a corporate lawyer can’t decide between a couple of half-million dollar condos? Phew, what a tough decision to make.

    Should we be billing him at $600/hr for our advice?

  1. Jen said at 8:45 pm on Wednesday May 12, 2010:

    Jimmy, congrats on graduating. Don’t listen to the snark of the last few comments.

    I like the Riggs Place unit. I live around the corner from the property and it is on a very quiet street, and 1,300 square feet is a lot of space for Dupont.

  1. mildred said at 10:07 am on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    @Curious.  He’s open to other neighborhoods, not just Dupont & Logan.  So there are other options, i.e. Velocity, CityVista, etc.  I did notice 2 listings for a 2 bdrm @ Velocity ($520K & $600K). There’s also a 2bdrm @ Cityvista for $447K and a listing @ Yale Lofts for $579K. So, yes there are more options out there for Jimmy.

  1. PleasantPlainer said at 10:54 am on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    Re: “Jimmy’s biggest concern…”. Jimmy has concerns?

  1. London Terrace said at 11:01 am on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    Riggs looks best to me, although this unit just came on the market on Rhode Island that might meet his criteria. May need some paint to liven it up, though.

    http://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/1437-Rhode-Island-Ave-NW-20005/home/10173745

  1. jimmy said at 11:27 am on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    thank you for all the helpful comments!

  1. walker said at 12:24 pm on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    The only issue with the Riggs place (which is a great block.. i lived close to there awhile back), is that it isn’t that close to metro. It’s not miles.. but given the soon-to-be-long hours you might go with U St. so you don’t spend half an hour walking home after work at midnight.

  1. Silver Spring JD said at 1:38 pm on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    How about you do an entry for the federal attorney making $75K with $95K in student loans, $5K in credit card debt, and no money down?

    Yeah…that’s what I thought.

  1. CBMendez said at 4:41 pm on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    Jimmy -
    Congratulations. Your financial life of low/no debt; spending less than you earn and saving with intensity will serve you well. Keep it up.
    I could be wrong, but I think the doorman/concierge requirement may be a toughie. Think you’ll find them in older buildings with older residents and higher HOAs. That said, check out Southwest for exactly those amenities.

    In the Meantime, How About…
    1300 N ST NW #222, Washington, DC 20005
    MLS #:  DC7328770
    List Price: $514,999
    HOA Dues: 498
    2-level, 2br/2.5ba, balcony

    2500 VIRGINIA AVE NW #1110-S, Washington, DC 20037
    MLS #:  DC7320315
    List Price: $550,000
    HOA Dues:  1223
    2 bedroom (currently 1 br & den) at the watergate

    5112 3RD ST NW, Washington, DC 20011
    MLS #:  DC7311050
    List Price: $459,500
    Extra large mstr suite w/ own bthrm & walk in closet. Fnshd bsmnt w/ rec rm, full bthrm & bdrm

    238 G ST SW, Washington, DC 20024
    MLS #:  DC7299821
    List Price: $529,900
    In the heart of the new waterfront & marina, nats stadium & arena stage

    449 R ST NW #202, Washington, DC 20001
    MLS #:  DC7260640
    List Price: $469,000
    HOA Dues: 254
    Two bed, two bath condo in the monique


    2902 PORTER ST NW #B-1A, Washington, DC 20008
    MLS #:  DC7193908
    List Price: $475,000
    HOA Dues:  387
    Nice, large, 2bed 2 bath in “the monterey”.
    The owner is very motivated to sell

  1. carefultreading said at 4:53 pm on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    Nice work with the praise, @CBMendez.  I’m willing to bet that graduating from LS with no debt and $140k available for a down payment on a half-million dollar condo is not evidence of a life of frugality or careful financial management.

    Two words: trust fund.

    Why not utilize this column for helping people find places to live with actual financial considerations?

  1. Anne Lam said at 7:07 pm on Thursday May 13, 2010:

    @carefultreading—read past installments. a lot of different types of buyers have been covered. plus it is based on who writes in requesting to be profiled.

  1. aj said at 2:00 pm on Friday May 14, 2010:

    I don’t make as much money as jimmy and I do have student debt to pay off but I don’t seem to feel as hateful as many of you.  regardless of Jimmy’s frugality, trust fund or other scenario, why don’t we all just go back to being snarky about the listings and not about the people looking to buy? eh?

  1. Big Boy said at 4:22 pm on Friday May 14, 2010:

    Jimmy should seriously consider the unit at 2020 12th Street.  This is a great building, but the location is what sets this building apart.  It is 1 block to Metro and a short walk to the 14th & U restaurats and clubs, but very quiet.  Plus it has underground parking that he can rent out at $200+/mo.  Not to mention the workout room, front desk attendant, rooftop deck, state-of-the-art security, etc.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Jimmy.

  1. Two cents said at 11:19 pm on Tuesday May 18, 2010:

    Jimmy, Congratulations! Two pieces of advice from someone in your position (but a couple years ahead).  Don’t worry about walking home at night, you should (and will) take a cab home when you work late at night. The firm will pay for it.  Besides, the metro closes around midnight on the weekdays.  Second, unless you’ve spent more time in DC than a few months during your 2L summer or some internship, I’d hold off on buying a condo until you’ve lived here a few months at least.  Besides, there are plenty of places to rent until you settle on a neighborhood - and the neighborhood is everything.  Lots of people love Dupont, Login Circle, and U street and can deal with the hassle and crime, but you don’t want to drop half a million dollars and realize within months that you are not one of them.  Just my two cents.

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