What $30K Buys You: The Cheapest Unit in the City

by Mark Wellborn

20 Chesapeake Street SE

In this week’s installment of What X Buys You, we did some research to find the least expensive, move-in ready home on the market in DC. Eliminating foreclosures, short sales and abandoned homes in need of a complete renovation, we found a one-bedroom on the market in Congress Heights for $29,900.

The 540 square-foot unit at 20 Chesapeake Street SE is in need of some updating, but at $55 a square foot, the eventual buyer will probably have some money left over for renovations. The building itself was renovated in 1990.

While there are no maximum income limits to buy this property, the unit must be owner-occupied and cannot be rented out, the listing agent told UrbanTurf. The management for the building is “going for co-op lending approval” and must keep the building 100% renter-free.

The other downside to the unit are the fees: $336/month or about three times your monthly mortgage payment if you are financing. No word on why the fee is so high, but UrbanTurf is inquiring.

Aside from those things, consider that if you bought this unit, you are getting it for less than most people pay to buy a parking space in this city.

Update: Unit is a co-op. Fees include electricity, gas, and property taxes.

See other articles related to: what x buys you, dclofts, congress heights

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/what_30k_buys_you_the_cheapest_unit_in_the_city/2037


  1. JellyBean said at 3:57 pm on Tuesday May 4, 2010:

    I can afford this one!

  1. anon said at 4:28 pm on Tuesday May 4, 2010:

    Does a flak jacket convey

  1. Mary said at 4:56 pm on Tuesday May 4, 2010:

    “no word yet on why the fee is so high”

    It sounds like it’s a coop and they usually include property taxes and various other things, so they tend to look higher than condo fees. Similarly, that’s probably all that’s going on with the owner-occupancy thing.

  1. swester said at 5:25 pm on Tuesday May 4, 2010:

    I realize it’s not part of this list, but there are some INCREDIBLY cheap foreclosures on the market (and probably tons more on the way). I’m talking 2 and 3 BR houses for $20k.  For the land alone, that’s a steal, any way you cut it.  Dealing with the neighborhood or the possible outstanding liens is another host of issues…

    It really puts things in perspective when you get so accustomed to 1 BR apartments costing $300,000.  Is a nicer neighborhood and better construction really worth the 1,000% premium in price?

  1. swester said at 5:30 pm on Tuesday May 4, 2010:

    Also - the listing says taxes are $12,000.  How can that be right?

  1. J.D. Hammond said at 1:11 am on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    I’d like to add that this is actually in Washington Highlands, two miles from the nearest Metro station, and by extension the nearest grocery store. I’d imagine it’s a rather desperate walk.

    That said, I agree with everything swester said.

  1. Emil Ali said at 11:09 am on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    There are a lot of condos in congress heights and anacostia closer to the metro in that same price range. They need some cosmetic work and probably will require capital improvements for the common areas, but are great long term investments.

  1. Nick said at 11:14 am on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    “Anon” - that “flak jacket” inference is blatantly racist - no wonder you didn’t sign it.

    The posting should be taken down immediately.

  1. Owen said at 11:22 am on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    You may very well need a “flak jacket” when the murder rate is 126% above the national average.
    Racism I think not it is a sad reality.


  1. Jamie said at 1:09 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    Where exactly are these “incredibly cheap foreclosures?” The last time I did an MLS search the cheapest single family home was $60K. It had also changed hands for $100K only a few months before which makes the listing suspect.  I doubt there’s any single-family homes in DC proper that are in livable condition for under $150K, if not much more.

  1. Jamie said at 1:18 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    @Owen, thanks for the link - but you’ve entirely misunderstood the statistics you site.

    126% doesn’t mean “126% above the national average.” It means 26% above the national average. 100% IS the national average. 50% is half, and 200% is twice.

    That said, the safety of a neighborhood is a lot more complicated than a murder rate. The stats also show a 21% vacancy rate and <25% owner occupied rate.

    Crime rates are also a factor of opportunity. Despite this being a poor neighborhood, 64% of residents drive to work, probably because of the bad metro access. This means, it’s probably a lot less safe to walk around than it is in other much more pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods. Finally, crimes are always underreported in poorer communities.

    The statistics will not reflect any of this because they are based on reported crimes vs. population. Robbery stats do not take into account how much people walk around (e.g. crimes per mile spent outside) or unreported crimes.

  1. SWester said at 2:45 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    Jamie - I’m not sure what MLS service you’ve used, but I have a list right in front of me with 17 properties for under $100,000 in Zip codes 20002 and 20019 - which aren’t even the poorest areas in the District.

    Yeah, there’s nothing in Dupont circle for under $200k, but expand your horizons a bit and there’s a world of investment opportunity.

  1. Very interested said at 2:58 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    @SWester - please share exactly where you found that list. I’m sure other readers are as interested as I.

    From what I can tell, Redfin doesn’t list the price for foreclosed homes.

  1. SWester said at 5:53 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    I can’t really share the subscription service I use to get listings, but here’s an example of one from the list.  Technically these are bank-owned, so it’s post-foreclosure.  But cheap, nonetheless.


  1. lauren said at 6:21 pm on Wednesday May 5, 2010:

    Here are listings in zip code 20019 for under $125k:


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