DC Buyer: Two Hill Staffers Looking for a One-Bedroom Unit

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. After presenting some choices, we will ask readers to help them make their choice.

115 E Street SE

This week, we’re searching for properties for Allison and Brad, a couple, both 33 years old, who work for different Senators on the Hill. When they’re not busy duking it out over health care, education spending, and the federal deficit, they’re trying to find a new condo that they can call home.

Allison and Brad both make about the same annual salary (around $58,000) and both have strong FICO scores at 745 and 771, respectively. Combined, the two of them have just over $1,000 in monthly debt between Brad’s student loans, Allison’s car payment, and a couple credit cards each with low balances. Allison has a condo with about $100,000 in equity that she could sell to extend their reach of available properties, but she’d rather hold on to it and rent it, if she can. This decision limits their price range as they do not have very much money for a down payment. Like many DC politicos, their lives are based on the Hill, so they’d like to stay there if possible.

The first property that we found is a one-bedroom, one-bath unit at 115 E Street SE. At $299,000, it is pretty much exactly what they are willing to spend. There’s a nice bay window in the bedroom and a little nook they could turn into a home office in the main room, in addition to a walk-in closet that is almost large enough to hold Allison’s shoe collection. The kitchen is somewhat dated, and was basic to begin with, but could be easily updated later on. The condo fee is high at $428, but that includes utilities, and the building is pet friendly, and if their lives ever calm down they had been thinking about adopting a dog.

The Car Barn

Property number two is another one bedroom unit directly across the street from the Supreme Court at 11 2nd Street NE on the market for $299,999. The bedroom in this apartment is unforgivably small, and the kitchen here is also somewhat tiny for two people, but the location is absolutely phenomenal. They’re so close to the Capitol they could walk home for lunch, and the views alone are worth the asking price. In addition, this property offers central A/C and beautiful hardwood floors. The condo fee is a reasonable $322, and the seller is offering help with closing costs.

The final choice is a one-bedroom, one-bath condo at DC’s famous Car Barn located at 35 14th Street NE. This property is far further east than Brad and Allison wanted to go, but the amenities offered by the complex put this place on their short list. It’s the least expensive of the three (offered at $290,000) with the lowest condo fee ($170), and offers an in-ground pool and a fireplace to light while you watch the November election results come in. Also off-street parking is provided for some units.

Given these three choices, where do you think they should call home?

See other articles related to: dclofts, dc buyer, capitol hill

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_buyer_two_hill_staffers_looking_for_a_one-bedroom_unit/1764


  1. Bill said at 10:58 am on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    The first property looks like the best option to me, although people on the Hill love the Car Barn, so that would be my second choice.

  1. Eo said at 12:52 pm on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    The bedroom on the second one is a joke. It looks like it could only fit a twin bed? I would go with the 3rd choice. It isn’t that far east.

  1. wdc said at 1:20 pm on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    save a little more money, look a little farther east and or north of the capitol and buy a house in several months.  they’ll be much happier with more space and really don’t need to buy that closely to the capitol, especially if they both work in the same place.

  1. uriel said at 1:20 pm on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    They already have a one bedroom.  Why buy another one?  A second one bedroom does not sound like a good idea, especially if they are planning to have a family at some point.  That debt will only limit their buying power in the future.  I would recommend selling their current unit and buying a two bedroom condo or a house east of the Car Barn.

  1. Bill said at 1:47 pm on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    I like what they are doing. Keep an investment property if you can and build equity in another place if you don’t have a hankering to upgrade to a larger unit.

  1. SL said at 5:27 pm on Wednesday February 10, 2010:

    I like the Car Barn property the best - sure the location isn’t as good as the first one, but the lower condo fee makes it win out. I can’t believe there is no photo of the kitchen in the listing, however. The first property does have a kitchen photo, but it looks very outdated and in need of remodeling.

  1. Sandy said at 6:08 pm on Thursday February 11, 2010:

    The Car Barn property is the best option for them if they desire to keep their current property as a rental unit. (I am making the assumption there would be a positive cash flow if it is kept as a rental property.) When they decide to have a family, they will be in a far better position to sell one or both properties to invest in a larger family home.

  1. Freeman said at 5:10 am on Friday February 12, 2010:

    The first property doesn’t look like a good deal at all. At $554/sq ft, you’re paying at least as much as you would in some of the better places in NW. High condo fees, too.

  1. alie said at 1:19 pm on Friday February 12, 2010:

    The bedroom in the second option is ridiculous.  The International Building Code requires that the minimum dimension for a legal bedroom be 7’-6” in any direction, definitely not the case with this room!

  1. CBMendez said at 4:46 pm on Monday February 15, 2010:

    THESE are not options.
    #1 was unavailable at this writing.
    #2 is called a Jr 1-Bd for a reason.
    #3 is Car Barn - i’ve seen a few units at CB and the kitchens are as useless as the bedroom in #2.

    I hate to continue to beat the debt free drum, but…sell the condo, pay off the debt and then buy. Your personal risk is increased when you carry a mortgage on both your primary residence and your investment property.

    In this case, the desire for the hill is better served with a higher approval amount. Look for atleast 2bd, parking & outdoor space. With the cash left over, renovations on kitchens and baths are easy.

    With good scores, $120,000 salary and no debt, this couple should easily qualify for $360,000.
    Perhaps the numbers will work in their favor, and after paying off the debt, they will have 36,000, 54,000 or 72,000 as a downpayment.

    Even $360,000 is a stretch in zip code 20003. The best price per square foot I could find in that range is 1813 EAST CAPITOL ST SE #1, Washington, DC 20003 /  DC7234149   /  $354,000   /  $248/sqft /  3bd/2ba /  1425 sqft /  168 HOA / assigned parking

    But, if they must buy today this unit gets my vote: 1000 NEW JERSEY AVE SE #717, Washington, DC 20003 /  DC7201597 /  $267,400 /  You finance only $148,936 /  HOA: 1066 /  HOA Includes:  EXTERIOR BUILDING MAINTENANCE, MANAGEMENT, MASTER INSURANCE POLICY, POOL(S), RECREATION FACILITY, SEWER, TAXES, TRASH REMOVAL, UNDERLYNG MORTGAGE PAYMENT, WATER

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