The Pursuit: Gift from a Grandmother

by Shilpi Paul

24 Logan Circle NW

For three years, Julia Moss, a California native and recent George Washington University grad, had been stretching to pay the $1,275/month rent on her one-bedroom in Columbia Heights. Her monthly expenses were piling up, and the rent ultimately became unsustainable when she started having to pay for health insurance out of her own pocket.

However, the 25 year-old, who works at a DC non-profit, was admittedly much more fortunate than other young adults struggling to make housing payments each month. Her grandmother, a real estate agent, had decades ago began setting aside money that her eventual grandchildren were to use to purchase a home.

“She was a Holocaust survivor who came to this country, and real estate is how she made her life work,” Moss said of her grandmother. As the youngest by almost a decade, Moss was the only grandchild who hadn’t used the gift by the time her grandmother passed away earlier this year. Due to some sound real estate investments, her grandmother’s gift had ballooned to $100,000 over time, giving her well above the average down payment on a first home.

Aside from the fact that the money had to be used toward a real estate purchase, there were other considerations that Moss was taking into account. Like, was she ready for the sense of permanence that comes with a home purchase?

Moss started taking tentative steps forward. Jennifer Myers, a DC-based real estate agent, was recommended to her, and they started looking at condos in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Myers took Moss and her boyfriend on an outing to Logan Circle to get a taste for the neighborhood. They made a stop at a terrace level one-bedroom at 24 Logan Circle, on the market for $360,000.

Living Room

The unit, which UrbanTurf just happened to feature as a Deal of the Week in early September, had been extensively renovated by the owner, who had lived there for over 20 years. Moss was overwhelmed by the fineries: steam shower, 60-inch Smart TV, and a restaurant quality kitchen with a Sub-Zero fridge, copper sink, and double ovens. “It was not outside of my price range, it was outside my mind range,” she felt. “I walked away thinking that I’d feel uncomfortable inviting people over.’”

Moss saw the unit on a Saturday, and despite her hesitation, she couldn’t stop thinking about it. On Sunday, she called Myers to discuss making an offer, knowing that the unit was probably going to get several. Her boyfriend’s encouragement helped her go through with offer. “He said, ‘You can put in an offer, but you probably are not going to get it,’” remembered Moss. “That calmed me down a lot.”

Julia Moss in her new kitchen.

The offer was submitted on Monday, and on Tuesday, Moss got the good news: her offer of $10,000 above the asking price had been accepted. She was excited, but also scared at the realization that she was not only a homeowner, but also living in an unequivocally adult apartment that had been painstakingly designed by someone else.

“My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to make it my own, that I would feel like I was living in the former owner’s space,” said Moss. “He spent so much time and energy making it incredible, and I worry that all the changes I make will devalue it somehow.”

Moss closed on October 28th and moved in the next day. She is planning on painting the walls and re-carpeting, but for the time being, she is just getting used to her new digs. “I have friends who have said that they can’t wait to cook in the kitchen. Now I’m going to have cooking parties.”

Throughout the process, Moss’ grandmother stayed on her mind.

“When I was little, I would always play office with her paperwork,” she remembers. “She had these forms that I would check things off on. When I was writing my offer, I realized that I was filling out those same forms. It really brought it home for me that all this is possible because of my grandmother. Nothing would make her happier, and nothing makes me sadder than knowing she will never see it.”

See other articles related to: the pursuit, logan circle

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_pursuit_gift_from_a_grandmother/4610


  1. Diane said at 8:24 pm on Friday November 18, 2011:

    Lovely story and lovely home.  One thing I don’t understand, though, is how this helped her financial situation (article says she was struggling to pay rent).

  1. jj said at 11:15 pm on Saturday November 19, 2011:

    Not the wisest investment in my opinion, but glad she is happy.  Don’t buy a basement level apartment that has been over-renovated (Viking Range in a basement apt!); buy an affordable above ground place with less bling.  If she wanted to continue to invest what was invested well for her, she should have bought a small studio in Logan at around 200,000.  With 100,000 down she would have had a really small monthly mortgage.  Then later when she is ready for something bigger and better she could have sold, or kept it and rented it out.

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