UrbanTurf Puts Money Where Mouth Is

by Mark Wellborn

My new front door.

In case you hadn’t noticed, we do a fair amount of recommending for-sale homes here at UrbanTurf. So, who would we be if one of us at the office didn’t put our money where our mouth is, and actually buy one of the properties we’ve recommended?

On August 2nd, I closed on my first home purchase. It is a two-bedroom, two-bath condo in Logan Circle that may look familiar to readers because we featured it as a Deal of the Week about a month or so ago.

The living area from the stairs.

Given that the process is fairly fresh in my mind, I thought this would be a good opportunity to chronicle my buying experience, and answer questions that readers might have about the process. This will be a two-part series: this post will cover the specifics of the unit like layout, location and price; the second post will discuss the buying process, from finding the unit to closing.

There were three main reasons behind my decision to buy.

The first was the need for more space. I have been living with my girlfriend in a 500 square-foot one-bedroom apartment in Dupont Circle for the past year and a half, and it was getting cramped. The new place is 1,100 square feet, plenty of room so she doesn’t have to be in the room when ESPN is on and I can leave when Oprah shows up.

The second was the price. I have looked at hundreds (maybe thousands) of real estate listings in the DC area over the last year, and the stars all seemed to align with this unit in terms of price, space and location. More on that below.

Lastly, interest rates. Granted, they have been dropping for weeks now and may continue to do so, but a sub-4.7 percent long-term rate was just too good to pass up.

Here is a quick snapshot of the unit:

Specs: The condo is on the top floor of a four-unit converted row house in Logan Circle. The main selling point was the living room that is quite large and has high ceilings, hardwood floors, two large windows and a wood-burning fireplace. The living room is definitely what sold me, as the bedrooms are not the largest you’ll find in the neighborhood. The total interior square footage is just north of 1,100. Both the kitchen and bathrooms are in good shape, but will need to be renovated at some point in the coming years. The condo came with a parking space in the back of the house.

Living area from different perspective.

Location: The unit is on R Street between 13th and 14th, three blocks north of Whole Foods and three blocks south of the U Street Metro on the Green/Yellow Line.

Price: The list price for the unit was $549,900, or about $496 a square foot. I will go into greater detail about the price negotiations in the next post, but the final price was $541,500. Condo fees are about $200 a month.

In an effort to keep aspects of the transaction private, there are certain topics that will be off limits, e.g. who my agent was, who the seller was, and maybe a few other things that don’t immediately come to mind. Otherwise, fire away with questions in the comment section, and I will respond. Here are more photos of the unit:

The living area windows
One of the bedrooms

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_puts_money_where_mouth_is/2347


  1. Brett said at 4:13 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:


  1. Lena said at 4:24 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:

    Awesome! Congratulations! I looked at this place with my husband. The living area definitely makes the unit. When do you plan to renovate?

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 4:52 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:

    @ Brett—Thank you!

    @ Lena—Thank you, too. As for renovations, there is no set timetable, but probably in the next few years. Right now, the focus is on mortgage payments…

  1. Juan said at 5:33 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:

    Congrats, I live closer to Rhode Island Avenue NW and love the Neighborhood! Welcome! Now if I could find a nice 3 bedroom row house…. LOL!

  1. jenna said at 7:01 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:


    What interest rate were you able to get?

  1. Steven said at 11:17 pm on Thursday August 5, 2010:

    Congratulations!  It looks like a great space.  Even if you don’t do renovations right away, there’s lots of potential there that can be realized through good interior design.

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 8:25 am on Friday August 6, 2010:

    @ Jenna - 4.625%

  1. iEatDC said at 9:19 am on Friday August 6, 2010:

    Gorgeous place, congratulations!

  1. Buying said at 9:20 am on Friday August 6, 2010:

    How many other properties did you look at?

  1. dan said at 9:50 am on Friday August 6, 2010:

    How much did you investigate noise levels in the building (neighbors, dogs, outside noise), its always a concern in condos, especially converted homes.  What kind of things did you look at and what factored into your decision with respect to this.  THanks

  1. Rock said at 10:46 am on Friday August 6, 2010:

    Always been a bit dubious of these very small condo buildings.  You’ll have just three other co-owners.  Was this a concern? did you meet your neighbors prior to buying to make sure you were comfortable with them?

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 2:06 pm on Friday August 6, 2010:

    Sorry for the delay.

    @ Buying—I didn’t look at many other properties. This one caught my eye for the Deal of the Week feature and then I went and looked at it three times before submitting an offer. Not love at first sight, but close.

    @ dan—We spoke at length to the head of the condo association about a number of things related to the building, particularly indoor and outdoor noise. He said neither was an issue, and was frank with us about other aspects of the building, so we trusted him. Having lived there now for just under a week, noise hasn’t been a problem, except we can here the front door of the building open every once in a while.

    @ Rock—Yes, the size of the building was a concern, but we scrutinized the condo docs to see how finances and major repairs had been handled in recent years and were happy with what we saw. We have met two of the three other owners who have owned their unit for about ten years and seem to care a lot about the health of the building.

  1. Christina said at 8:25 am on Saturday August 7, 2010:

    With such a small building, do you have a condo management company or is everything handled “in house?” I live in a larger (36 unit) building and we’ve found that getting good management is almost impossible.

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 10:16 am on Saturday August 7, 2010:

    @ Christina—It is a self-managed building, which explains why the condo fee is fairly low.

  1. Laura Rubinchuk said at 10:49 am on Monday August 9, 2010:

    Congratulations Mark!

  1. Jennifer Myers said at 10:54 am on Monday August 9, 2010:

    Congrats!  Looks like a good buy with lots of space and a great location!

  1. James Andrew Sands said at 10:57 am on Monday August 9, 2010:

    CONGRATS MARK! Welcome to the hood neighbor! smile

  1. Fritz Hubig said at 4:44 pm on Monday August 9, 2010:


    Congratulations to you!! Fantastic place and much cheaper than our own listing was (a few dozen yards away). I wish you much joy and happiness with the new space!

  1. Nikki said at 9:24 am on Thursday August 12, 2010:

    Congrats! Good to hear you were willing to take UrbanTurf’s advice! When should we expect the second post?

  1. Mark Wellborn said at 1:51 pm on Thursday August 12, 2010:

    @ Nikki—I aim to have the second post ready to go next Friday.


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