Real Estate’s Unicorn: The Three-bedroom Condo

by Joe Marhamati

The three-bedroom condo is a property type that is not very easy to find and one that only a minority of home buyers are looking for. Many buyers are of the mindset that if they are going to invest in a three-bedroom property, why not a single-family home or a row house instead of a condo?

Three-bedroom in Kalorama

According to Long and Foster’s Pamela Wye, there are just 79 three-bedroom units currently listed in DC, compared to 550 two-bedroom condos/co-ops and 512 one-bedroom units. A number of new condo developments around town offer three-bedroom units, but like the statistics above, there are a disproportionately smaller number when compared to one and two-bedroom units.

Wye says that often the buyer that is in the market for a three-bedroom condo is looking to downsize from a much larger home, as their children have all left the nest and they no longer need as much living space. She also noted that this property type can be popular with retired couples who want the freedom to go on vacation and not have to worry about closing up everything, but still want the space when guests come into town.

Yet not all buyers shopping for three-bedroom condos are retirees or empty-nesters. Yanev, a 29 year-old home buyer, says he’s in the market for a three-bedroom condo for the extra space it allows for dinner parties and entertaining guests.

“Buying a house is better from an investment perspective – no collective decision-making, your own asset, no fees. But it is also really for family people rather than a single guy,” Yanev said to UrbanTurf. Yanev is currently looking for a high-end unit in the Dupont Circle, West End, Adam’s Morgan or Logan Circle neighborhoods but has had little luck. He has seen about 20 units, most of which had modern designs that he liked, but in a number there was no open space and the common living area was quite small.

While some don’t care for the layouts, others balk at the hefty fees for three-bedroom units.

“Because condo fees are based on, among other things, the square footage of a unit, three-bedroom condos typically have higher monthly fees than one and two-bedroom units,” Wye said. She noted that monthly condo fees for three-bedroom units can run upwards of $800 in Georgetown and Palisades, and this can deter many buyers. Wye had a client interested in a three-bedroom condo in Kalorama, but decided against the purchase when she saw that the condo fees approached $1,000 a month.

The smaller pool of potential buyers looking for three-bedroom condos often means they sit on the market longer. Wye says that this doesn’t necessarily translate into lower resale values, but simply more time and energy to sell.

Have you been looking for a three-bedroom condo? Tell us where you’ve seen them and what factors you’d consider before buying.

See other articles related to: unicorn, dclofts, dc condos

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/real_estates_unicorn_the_three-bedroom_condo/1880


  1. Chesapeake said at 7:38 pm on Tuesday March 16, 2010:

    My wife and I have been looking for a 3-bedroom for about 2-3 months and like the article notes, have found that the condo fees are pretty high for these units. Regardless, we want to be closer to downtown so are continuing to look.

  1. Pazzysmom said at 11:42 am on Wednesday March 17, 2010:

    I think it was fairly recently in Dwell magazine that a DC family was showcased moving from a rowhouse into an expansive, gorgeous, modern, multi-BR condo in Georgetown.  They negotiated with the condo developer to combine what would normally have been 2-3 (or more?) units to make into one for them - which I would guess is double/triple the maintenance fee. Anyway, they chose to “upgrade” from rowhouse to condo because DC rowhouses most of the time just don’t offer the same big rooms as new condos would. They haven’t looked back since, and I don’t blame them!

  1. sarah said at 1:23 pm on Wednesday March 17, 2010:

    There is a really spacious 3 bedroom 2 bath unit in Logan with an outside space and low condo fees $263/month .  Check it out on Redfin - 1107 O Street NW Apt 3.

  1. tom murphy said at 5:45 pm on Wednesday March 17, 2010:

    The three bedroom is hard to find.  Few bldgs
    have any. It gets confusing because there are
    many apartments that have the space of a three bedroom but need to be renovated into a 3 BR. This is especially true in Foggy Bottom where the easist way to get three BR is to merge adjacent apartments.  However, the space is unlikely to flow smoothly and you need to decide what to do with the second kitchen. But
    the prices can be very inviting and some people prefer to handle their own renovation.

  1. Juliet said at 5:47 pm on Wednesday March 17, 2010:

    Buyers might also look/search for 2 Bedroom + Den condo and coop units. Dens can be bedroom size, but are not legal bedrooms because they usually lack a window (a second means of egress).  Unfortunately, our local MRIS/multiple listing service doesn’t include “den” as a search criteria, so you do have to review the property description results of a search for 2 Bedrm units to see if any are 2 bedrm + den.

  1. Kalorama Triangle Mom said at 11:17 pm on Wednesday March 17, 2010:

    I know a lot of young parents who believe in apartment living, are eager to stay in their neighborhoods, but are not quite well-paid enough to afford the larger row houses (and maybe wouldn’t know what to do with the space beyond that third bedroom anyway).  We’d all be thrilled to find ourselves three-bedroom condos or co-ops.  Its a shame there are so few in DC.

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